We’ve all been there – standing in a long checkout line with a cranky toddler, trying to fend off a four-alarm tantrum. Of course it’s better to choose a time when your little one is well-rested, well-fed and happy to run errands, but in the real world that’s not always possible. Our families are busy, and we live life on the go. When we’re trying to buy food for dinner, keep a toddler busy during an older sibling’s swim class, or eat a meal out in peace, many of us turn to our phones and tablets as a way of entertaining kids and keeping everyone happy and calm. Buy how do you choose kid-friendly apps? We have tips.
Safe Apps for Entertaining Kids
Many sites and apps say that they’re kid-friendly, but when you’re entertaining kids you might want to look for an independent recommendation. Your mom friends are a great place to start – they’ve been there, too, and they’ve likely found some apps that work for them. There are also independent third parties that review and certify websites and games. One example is the kidSAFE® Seal Program. They review and certify websites, social networks, mobile apps, tablet devices and similar online and interactive technology aimed at kids. You’ll still want to make sure that the apps and sites your kids are using are a good fit for your family, but it’s a great starting point when you’re looking for a few minutes’ peace.
Pitfalls to Watch Out For
There are a few pitfalls to watch out for when you’re entertaining kids on the go. The first is the free app. These seem good, as you can keep your little ones occupied without forking over any cash. The downside, however, is that many of these tools rely on in-app purchases and advertising as a source of funding. One free download can result in a child watching an ad for a game or movie you don’t want them seeing in order to earn free “coins” or “tokens”. You may also hear a lot of requests for new toys or game upgrades, making the app a source of conflict rather than a source of peace. And if you link your credit card to those apps that offer in-app purchases, you might find yourself on the hook for a purchase your little one makes, so make sure you’ve locked upgrades and purchases down.
Many apps and games also include little videos – one example is Angry Birds Toons. These videos are typically preceded by sponsor messages (that is, ads), which you may or may not want your child seeing. They may also link to other videos for other apps and games. Sometimes apps also offer children the ability to view and share videos from other users, often on YouTube. These video links are lots of fun for older children who understand Internet safety. They are not intended for younger children, though, so be aware of all the features your new app contains, as well as what it links to. And if you’re in doubt, refer back to those pre-vetted, certified apps, and consider paying for a service that offers you parental controls and peace of mind for entertaining kids on the go.
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