A question I get a ton when we travel is what apps we allow Joshua to use. I’d like to first preface this by saying that I am a big believer in electronics. I don’t know if it’s the nerd in me, the coder, or the fact that I was 8 watching my 10 year old brother build his first computer- I am pro technology for many many many reasons. With that being said I am a conscious proactive technology user and I want to teach Joshua to be one too. We don’t really do mindless cartoons but we also don’t do limits on the right ones. I believe in not putting electronics as a reward or on a pedestal (i.e. if you eat your broccoli we can watch Paw Patrol) because I want him to have a healthy non-dependent relatinship with it. He knows if he wants to watch tv or use the iPad he can and in turn he only asks and uses it for about 1 hour a week.
When it comes to the actual apps we do use- they are all for the purpose of learning and heightening gross motor skills. We actively do these WITH Joshua because I don’t yet feel comfortable just giving him the phone or iPad and leaving to do something else. I want him to understand this is an activity, just like learning to draw shapes, not something he gets to do if mom is busy or doesn’t feel like being present.
With that being said here our my favorite apps at the moment that I’ve been loving for Joshua and suggest to toddlers 1.5-3 years old. (You can also visit my Instagram and check out my parenting story highlights to see these apps in action for a better idea of what they do)
- Bubble Popping:
This one is for younger toddlers or children unfamiliar with using a phone or iPad. In summary- it’s as easy as it sounds. You make bubbles by dragging your finger and you pop them by poking it. Joshua has loved this one for almost a year and he gets so excited because- bubbles.
- Peek-A-Boo Barn :
This one is very easy too! The game is essentially what animal is in the barn. It starts with a big red barn with the doors closed. You press the doors and it opens. An animal (such as a cow) is there and the sound says “Cow, moo.” Then the doors close and your child repeats the process with a different animal. I love this because it shows Joshua cause and effect of opening the doors and also I love that he repeats the animal name and sound. There are a couple different versions by this company, such as peek-a-boo fridge with food products, forest with harder animals, etc.
- Smart Baby Sorter :
This is great for an older toddler, Joshua started excelling in this when he was around 18m. The whole point of this game is to sort. You start by sorting colors. The screen is split, for example in red and blue. A new object pops up, like a blue bird, and your child has to learn to move it in the blue pile. As the levels are complete they get harder, adding new colors, sorting different categories of animals (land animals vs water animals like fish), shapes, etc. Joshua is still in the color sorting phase but I love watching him think, before sorting, sometimes failing and realizing what he did wrong and then doing it right or asking for help. This is a great educational game for traveling since it mimics real sorting games that would present difficult to bring on board.
- Flash Cards:
This one is exactly as it sounds- digital flash cards. There are many different categories and after choosing one you have a set of cards on the screen with animals on it. I love this specific set of flash cards because they are real photographs not toddlers. Once you click on the image it says the word and makes the sound (for example “Cow, Moo”). This is great to reiterate words to your toddler and has motor skill needs to make it a little more fun and challenging.
- First Words by Tiny Hands :
Tiny Hands, the app company, has a bunch of great apps for toddlers that I adore and this is the first one Joshua loved. It is a matching game with different categories. You have a set of flash cards, such as shapes, and a new one appears on the deck that you have to drag and match. When you do match them, you hear the word and applause. This is another one that has really helped reiterate words to Joshua and I’ve seen him learn quite a bit from this one. I definitely recommend you look at Tiny Hands and choose some apps that your child would be interest in!
- *BONUS TIP*: how to lock you iPhone or iPad screen on one app.
This keeps your child from changing apps, the sound button, and turning your phone on and off. The second you turn on this feature you can lock your phone for them, add an activity time limit, etc.
On an iPhone : Settings – General – Accessibility – Guided Access (at the bottom) – Turn it on + add a pass word and turn on the button shortcut
Now all you have to do is press your home button 3 times when your in the app of your choosing and it will not let you toddler change anything until you repress the home button 3 times and enter your password. This has been a game changer so I highly recommend you do it!
I really hope all of this info can help you in the future if you currently use or one day decide to use electronics for you kids! If there’s a channel or app you love please share and leave it in the comments down below!