I’m a bit of a techy guy. I love my gadgets, my phone and my tablet. So inevitably my kids have followed suit. My 4 year old son loves his Amazon Kindle Fire and for her second birthday we bought daughter one too. So I’m not here to lecture you on your kids screen time habits.
Now you might think we’re crazy for doing this (I sure do), but there is logic to it. She is forever trying to get on his Kindle and more fights break out than a drunk hen night in Newcastle. She is also really good at using tech already, whether it’s scrolling through pics on our phones of navigating Netlfix on my tablet.
We do what we do to limit their time on these devices (mostly), but we aren’t against it. They can have negative impacts on the kids but they can also be really positive for their learning and development. They can also give you peace whilst on a long drive, you try and cook the dinner or do the dishes.
So with this in mind I thought I’d share my top 5 apps that my kids use and what makes them good, from a dads perspective.
1. iPlayer Kids
This is the number one app my kids use. Bing, Ocotonauts, Go Jetters, Andy’s Dinosaur Adventures… if it’s on the website its on the app. Find all the kids’ favourite CBBC and CBeebies shows in a safe and easy to use app. It’s so easy to use my 2 year old gets around it fine. No sign up, but you do need to create a profile which my kids enjoyed doing. I find that it’s best function though is the ability to download episodes to watch when offline. This is great for car journeys but be careful as they do take up storage space.
Get it on: Android – IOS – Free
This is a paid subscription app that I have only recently been put onto. I know that in this day and age it’s rare for people to pay for apps but this is worth the money. For £3.99 a month you get TV shows, games, books, creativity, music and more. There is a free version with limited access to the content which is worth downloading if you just want to give it a go. The app responds well and is easy to use. It gets bonus points as the first free book on it is ‘Why I Love My Daddy’ by Daniel Howarth. There is a read it yourself version of each book as well as a ‘read to me’ option with fun narration. The ‘shows’ section of the app has things not on the BBC app and not on the Netflix app that appeals to a wide age range. All round a great app that’s fast becoming a firm favourite with both my kids.
3. YouTube Kids
So you have the standard YouTube app and then you have this one. This is the app you need for YouTube and it is much, much safer. I do not for the life of me understand why my son likes to watch other people play play games that he could be playing himself but that’s exactly what he does. It takes a little setting up from an adult before it can be used which is good as it lets you know what to expect. There is a different filter for the videos that are view-able to the kids but it also monitors their viewing habits and suggests suitable videos. If you see something you think shouldn’t be accessible you can flag it to YouTube to be removed and you can choose whether your kids can search or not. I guess that depends on their reading and writing age. I’ve seen some of the stuff my son accessed via the normal YouTube app and I can say for sure this app make me feel a lot more comfortable.
Not really sure what I can say about Netflix that you don’t already know. I would say this though, if you don’t already have a separate profile set up for your kids and are still getting recommendations for Peppa Pig or Paw Patrol, you need to set one up. You can set their profile to kids which will only show the appropriate content and the menu is pretty simple. The pause and play button is stuck down at the left hand side which my kids seem to forget. Might be better with a central play/pause button.It does everything you want from Netflix and they recently added a download function which again helps on car journeys or just when you want to free up some bandwidth on the broadband.
5. ABC Kids – Tracing & Phonics (no ads)
I think the first time my son used this app was when he was 3 years old. He played it for nearly 2 hours straight. It’s pretty basic, it’s learning both how to say the alphabet and how to write it. It works on a dot-dot style of drawing the letters and it’s worked for him pretty well so far. It’s a good app to sit down and do with the kids rather than just leaving them to play with on their own. Make sure you download the ‘no ads’ version. There’s a teaching mode and straight up play mode and you can turn off the repetitive music in the options menu if you like (I would suggest so). It’s made by parents who just want kids to have the resources to learn and that’s why it’s completely free.
Well, that’s my top 5 apps for the kids. What are yours? Do you already have these apps? Are there apps I totally overlooked.
Leave a comment below and share with other parents what apps you find helpful for younger kids. Thanks for reading.