When you combine a grandmother who is picky about what the little one accesses electronically with a 3-year old who is technology savvy and knows her own mind, you quickly find that some method is needed for finding just the right apps to put on the family iOS devices. Ones that satisfy everyone’s criteria. Here’s how we do it in my household:
1. Bouncer at the Door - Just like any hip & happening urban night club, you’ve got to line up and pass the basic questions. For us, I am the bouncer and here are my make it or beat it questions. A ‘yes’ to each is required to proceed.
> Is it a positive experience?
> Is it fun, engaging and/or educational?
> Is it interactive?
> Is it ‘low fail’ or ‘no fail’?
> Can it be used by non-readers?
2. Initial Awe Factor - I like to test out initial reaction to apps under the worst possible conditions, so I save the introduction of a new app for times like:
> the waiting room at the car dealership
> the after work/daycare grocery shopping run, or
> the moment the child crosses over into cranky at a restaurant
If the app captures her attention and quiet, rapt attention ensues, it definitely gets a positive score! I also take note of the length of time it keeps the little one engaged - the longer the time, the more likely it is to be a keeper. Anything over 10 minutes moves onto the next round.
3. Autonomous Choice - This one is all about the child’s choice. With a little one whose skills allow her to wield her iPhone 3Gs without any adult guidance (or as she feels - interference), it’s all about what she uses most and what she selects only occasionally or ignores all together.
Since we commute together morning and night, this generally means whatever theme songs I hum at my desk or whichever apps I know the words to because the repetition of the apps she chooses actually embed (or dare I say burn?!) certain audio tracks of itself into my brain subliminally.
AND THERE YOU HAVE IT. A recipe for picking the best of the best for you and your little one. As with any good recipe, please feel free to modify to taste!