Games and Apps for Kids

November 1, 2018
Games and Apps for Kids

Most kids nowadays have access to at least a phone, tablet, or computer. And with thousands of games and apps marketed as “educational” for children, how can you tell which are truly worthwhile? This week’s tip, courtesy of the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, details four ways to tell if an app will actually help your child learn.

1. Minds-On, not Mindless

Avoid games and apps involving passive learning, where children simply watch or follow instructions without any critical thinking.  Apps that require kids to actively think, process, and figure out have a better lasting impact than simply seeing information play out on a screen.

2. Engaging, not Distracting

Many apps are filled with extra elements like sound effects, flashing lights and other “bells and whistles” that distract children, without actually engaging them. Look for games that focus on a task, rather than constant distraction.

3. Apps that Go Beyond

Lots of apps teach the ABCs or display shapes on a screen, but it’s important that kids understand how they are used. Relating shapes to things they see in nature or forming letters into words that are spoken or sung helps to see the information in use.

4. Involve Others

The best learning tool isn’t an app or a television show, but rather other humans. Kids can learn a lot from peers and siblings, in addition to parents and teachers. Apps and games that involve participation from other people can help children feel connected, and increase their engagement with the learning material.


  • Jennifer M. Zosh is Assistant Professor, Human Development & Family Studies at Pennsylvania State University.
  • Kathy Hirsh-Pasek is Stanley and Debra Lefkowitz Faculty Fellow, Department of Psychology at Temple University.
  • Roberta Golinkoff is H. Rodney Sharp Professor and Director, UD Infant Language Project at University of Delaware.


This article was based off a piece in The Conversation.

For more tips on kids and the internet, click here.

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