Children are able to use and understand technology at an early age. They know how to operate smartphones and tablets correctly and get into their favorite apps before they can speak. There are a sea of apps available for every platform, but not all of them are appropriate for children. We have compiled a list of apps for kids, some silly games while others are educational, but all of them are completely child-safe and fun.
Many of these apps come with in-app purchases. If your children don’t understand that they are paying with real money every time they tap one of these, it can cause real problems. Before handing a phone or tablet over to a kid, make sure they don’t know the password for your account or have an understanding of what in-app purchases are and that they need to ask before they click. You can also turn off the in-app purchases altogether for iOS. Also look into our guides on best iPhone apps and Android apps.
The Super Why! app utilizes characters from the popular PBS show by the same name to help kids with reading and writing skills. It features three games that are led by different characters. Kids can help Alpha Pig follow the alphabet path to create words, Princess Presto lays out words kids can trace with their fingers to learn how to write, and Wonder Red teachers children how to find words that rhyme. The app also includes interactive storybooks in which kids are instructed to plug in the correct words to complete sentences. The downside of this app is its fairly expensive price and gameplay that can grow repetitive, so only purchase if your child is younger or needs a little extra help with literacy. It has also been known to freeze and experience audio malfunctions. The newest update claims it has fixed these problems, but it’s something to be wary of.
Monkey Preschool Lunchbox ($2 for iOS/Android)
Theme: Preschool Studies
One of several Monkey games, Monkey Preschool Lunchbox teaches preschoolers about shapes, counting, puzzles, and colors. Whenever he opens his lunchbox a new lesson comes out. The monkey asks for help in finding all the green fruit, grabbing only eight strawberries, or finding the fruit that starts with the right letter. You can’t lose points for messing up, so wrong guesses become part of the learning process instead of something scary. There are a number of different challenges, but it gets boring for older kids with a solid comprehension of letters, colors, and counting. The bright colors and monkey mascot make it engaging for young kids, and the controls are easy for anyone to learn quickly.
Polar Bowler follows a Hawaiian shirt wearing polar bear named PB as he careens through obstacles on an inner tube to knock over pins. PB is assisted by his penguin butler, J. The game is an update of a computer game from 2007, featuring new levels to clear and new ways to win. That doesn’t mean this is expansion of the original — the app features fewer characters and levels, despite a handful of new levels. The game includes a multiplayer function so kids can play with their friends and learn to be more interactive. This is a good game for all ages. The controls are easy to learn and the amount of increasingly difficult levels make it easy to stay engaged, even for older kids. And to curb frustration among younger kids, Polar Bowler includes an option to put up bumpers. There are two versions of this game, Polar Bowler: 1st Frame, which is free but only has a conventional bowling lanes, and the full featured version for $1 with different courses and levels. If you are unsure about how your kid will respond to this game download the free demo on iOS/Android, and see how they do with the controls. If they like the game you can shell out the dollar to get the full version. The paid version offers over 70 levels and no ads, but there are in-app purchases.
Theme: Logic Puzzles
An alien named Om Nom has come to earth and all he wants to do is eat candy. It is up to your kids to figure out what ropes to cut and what bubbles to pop to get the candy to the creature with the least amount of moves. Cut the Rope is geared toward older kids because it is a puzzle game but it does force the player to problem solve and think critically. Two skills that are useful at any age. Each level is a little harder than the last and it is easy to become frustrated. Only invest the $3 if your kid is someone who loves getting through problems and will stick with something. There are a few different versions of this game including Cut the Rope: Experiments (iOS/Android) and Cut the Rope: Time Travel (iOS/Android), so the fun can keep going even after you’ve completed all the levels on the original. The rope cutting never has to end.
If you haven’t heard of Angry Birds, you have successfully avoided popular culture long enough and it is time to come into the light. The object of the game is to slingshot birds at pigs sitting in small structures in order to kill all the pigs. No one knows what the pigs did, or even if they are evil, but for some reason the birds are not happy with their presence. Levels are like puzzles and each one is harder than the last, but along the way you unlock different birds with new abilities. If your kid is tired of the original Angry Birds, you can branch out to one of many sequels including but not limited to Angry Birds Star Wars and Angry Birds Friends.