We understand. We get it. Screen time is frequently over-used these days and often gets a bad rap. But digital access for children is not pure evil, infact, like most things in life when used proportionately, digital access can be beneficial and educational for your child. But there is a lot of ahem, garbage, on the market and if you’ve caught your child playing around on some questionable apps before, you wouldn’t be the first. So what does it take to make sure children are accessing high-quality, educational content that is worthy of their time? Let’s take a closer look.
Life really is all about balance. With a well-balanced combination of activities in your child’s life, there’s definitely a place for quality screen time. We’re talking about indoor and outdoor time, physical activity mixed with quiet time, social opportunities and imaginative play, books, music and organised activities and plenty of loving family time. If your child has all of this - and more - in their life, adding some digital access is just a part of their journey. Not the journey itself.
We’ll keep this brief as we know you already know this. Parental guidance is key. It’s the task of parents, guardians and carers to ensure children are accessing appropriate material. Responsibility lies with parents, guardians and carers to set guidelines and time limits for children. We don’t need to tell you that endless hours of screen time for young children is not good for them or recommended by professionals. If your child is old enough, discuss appropriate limits with them (if not, set limits on their behalf). This may equate to a set amount of time per day, or a flat no-screen-time rule during weekdays. Then stick to it. Set a timer or alarm if you need reminding. If you put firm boundaries in place and manage your child’s expectations (for example, “you can play this game for thirty minutes and then we’ll be going for a walk to the park”), they’ll be able to cope better when their time is up. See our “help for parents” section towards the end if you need further guidance on achieving this.
Age appropriate access
Most developers offer an age-range for the app they’ve created, which is relevant for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, if you have a four-year-old, you don’t want them accessing an app designed for a ten-year-old. Developers have designed content for a specific audience and families need to ensure this advice is followed.
The second point is something that becomes more relevant as your child grows older. As peer pressure seeps into the equation. It’s not uncommon for younger children to beg to access an app their friends are playing, only to discover the suggested age for the app is considerably older than the child making the request. Usually for good reason too - two fairly well-known examples of this include Among Us and Fortnite, but there’ll be plenty of examples on the market and new ones appearing regularly.
We suggest you make yourself aware of the recommended age when selecting an app and be guided by what the developers suggest. Stand firm with older children on your decision.
It’s not so difficult to create an app. Anyone with a little tech know-how can design one, which unfortunately means the market is flooded with options. This can be completely overwhelming when trying to download something appropriate for your child to use and can result in much time wasted scrolling through the Apple App Store or Google Play for Android devices.
What’s really needed, is time invested in researching technology on the market, to separate quality options from the not-so-quality options. Whether this is reading app or web reviews; checking the rating that customers have assigned to the app; going onto local family forums and requesting feedback; or chatting to trusted friends who’ve had experience using the app or web program in question and providing the thumbs up. Use the many resources at your fingertips - especially your community. Others will likely have already walked this path and are probably happy to share their findings.
Research can often be the biggest factor in children accessing undesirable content, because let’s face it, these days we’re a time-poor society. Life is busy, it’s fairly common for both parents to work and even with the best intentions we don’t always have the time to sort the good from the bad. We understand this.So we’ve spent some time researching on your behalf. Below is a list of options we think are worthy of your child’s time. Check them out and choose to use the ones that suit your family best.
Bugs and Numbers (Little Bit Studio)
Offering a parade of creepy crawlies demonstrating basic time, numbers, fractions and money that will rally your littles!
Age - 4+