We understand why some parents are not too keen on letting their children tinker with gadgets. There’s always that fear of ruining their kids’ attention span, creativity, and so on. Long term gadget use has also been pinpointed as a culprit in the promotion of a sedentary lifestyle, which is said to increase the risk of childhood obesity. Unfortunately, there is no escaping the fact that "gadgets such as smartphones and tablets are becoming more and more embedded in kids’ lives." And as such, the best parents and guardians can do is to place limits on the amount of time their children can spend in front of the screen every day. Based on the recommendation of experts, screen time should be no more than two hours a day and that includes the TV, smartphones, computers, tablets, game consoles, and so on. For kids under five, the American Academy of Pediatrics suggests keeping technology away as much as possible, as young children "develop better if they spend more time playing, being with adults and other children, and having books read to them."
Of course, that’s easier said than done as some kids and we’re talking preschoolers here actually beg for iPads, hand-held video games, and other gadgets that are no doubt too advanced for their tender years. Luckily, there’s a compromise that you can explore. Say you already own a tablet or a smartphone; you can just install it with apps rated EC (early childhood) so you are assured that your kids are only playing with age-appropriate apps. And to get you started, we’ve gathered a list of some of the best apps for your little ones that are guaranteed to be entertaining and visually pleasing yet still educational.
#1 Disney Princess: Story Theater
What’s better than a bedtime story? Well, nothing; but interactive story books come a close second experience-wise, especially since parents can also join in on the fun. Disney Princess: Story Theater, for example, "allows children to select princess characters, scenes, and various props to create the perfect story for later viewing." Featuring all-time favorite characters such as Cinderella, Belle, and Ariel, this app gives your little princesses a chance to create their own twist on classic favorites by recording their own versions of scenes from famous Disney movies. (Content rating: 4+)
#2 Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat Color & Create
You know how cute it is when your little one draws stuff on the wall, your trousers, and maybe the sheets when you’re not looking? Well, we imagine that it gets less cute when your child progresses to doodling on curtains, your work documents, the kitchen table, and so on. Still, if you don’t want to curb his or her creativity, it may be best to just give your young’un a digital coloring book like Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in the Hat Color & Create app. With 16 Seuss-themed pages, 32 colors of crayons and paintbrushes, digital stickers, and virtual-glitter cannon, your kid can make all the virtual mess that he or she wants without turning your house into a giant doodlefest. (Content rating: 4+)
#3 Motion Math: Hungry Guppy
Well, it’s never too early to train your kid to love math. We’re quite sure it’s going to come in handy when you’re grooming a successor to your let’s say, business phone service company or whatever line of business you’re into. Aimed at preschoolers, Motion Math: Hungry Guppy is an app that "helps children develop three key skills crucial for subsequent math achievement–understanding numbers, the quantities those numbers represent, and basic addition." Aside from fun gameplay, graphics and lively music, Motion Math: Hungry Guppy also features 15 levels that turn screen time into learning time, "from levels with groups of dots to levels with numbers 1 to 5."