The Very Best App For Young Children…

…is one that supports the development of a relationship with another human being.

While there is a lot of talk about book apps and apps that allow children to create their own content and apps to be used in storytime, I like to point out apps with built-in advice and support that can provide librarians, caretakers and parents alike with ways to use mobile media to support the development of relationships with young children.

Here is a selection of apps that specifically support the development of relationships.

Together Time with Song and Rhyme for Parent and Preschooler Play

Kathy Reid-Naiman is a well-loved children’s singer & songwriter whose music has inspired many children’s librarians, parents and early childhood educators. Within her Together Time App (produced by Mulberry Media Interactive Inc) are suggestions for how parents can share songs and rhymes with their children, and one of my favourite quotes from Dr Sears: “Relationships, not things, make brighter babies”

Traditional Storyteller

This series of apps was developed by Day Two Productions to give children access to master storytellers & storytelling in the oral tradition. Within the apps there is background information about the origin of the stories, opportunities for children (or adults!) to narrate their own version of the story and play games based around the story.

Toca Boca Apps

Toca Boca apps are often singled out as apps that easily support “play” as an early learning practice. Their apps are open-ended, are often easy to incorporate numeracy as well as literacy skills, and their highly visual and user-friendly interface allows for child-directed play. Toca Doctor includes suggestions for how the parent might use the app before or after a doctor’s visit to discuss functions of the body or (we hope not!) injuries or illnesses.


Grow a Reader

This Every Child Ready to Read-based app was developed by the Calgary Public Library and can simultaneously serve as a professional development tool, an “appvisory” suggestion for parents with very young children, and a storytelling tool. Easy navigation allows parents to learn songs & rhymes that support the development of the early learning practices.

Felt-Board Mother Goose on the Loose

This app was also envisioned by librarians (Dr. Betsy Diamant-Cohen and Cen Campbell) and is designed to foster a sense of play, joint media engagement and the development of all the early learning practices. There is a section for parents as well as librarians, with tips for each group on how to use the app to support parent-child engagement and encourage relationship-building activities.        ***********************************

Today’s post was written by Cen Campbell. Cen is the editor of the blog and a member of the Children and Technology Committee.

One comment

  1. KathyK

    The idea that any of these apps “support the development of a relationship with another human being” is an unsupported claim. In fact, there’s research indicating that the opposite is true. And we don’t know that telling parents to be interactive with their child while using apps is effective. It very well may not be.

    Toca Boca apps are NOT open-ended. They provide highly proscribed content that focuses activity to choosing from menus and reacting to the device. Imaginative, pretend, physical play and human interaction are displaced by menu selections and device-centered attention. I think there has to be research showing the value of these apps and their comparative value to know if they are worth recommending to children and families.

    The MGOL ‘s parent advisory also makes vague or grand claims about technology use and children that are also unsubstantiated. Admirably, It does make the essential point that tech use is not necessary to early childhood development. There is no evidence saying this or any app (except for Skype) is of any benefit to children. There is research that says it may be harmful. Parent education will be helpful and clear when we draw carefully from research, include all relevant information, avoid assumptions and distinguish opinion from fact.

    Finally, the Grow a Reader app is adult directed, a parent education app. We don’t know how effective this one is either but it does not involve promoting screen time for young children and I don’t think there is anything misleading about it.

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