Our children were born into a connected world. 22% of 7-12-year-olds own a smartphone, and 36% of them use a tablet (IPSOS Connect Junior survey 2019). However, the mobile applications dedicated to the youngest are not always adapted to their needs on closer inspection.
Learn to tell the time, discover the alphabet, or learn English: mobile applications for children are riding the wave of digital education. Their positioning in online education is supposed to convince us of their usefulness for the development of our children but beware of decoys.
On the one hand, toddlers need to use all their senses to learn and discover the world. Does your child know how to drag and drop a puzzle piece to the right place on the screen? Very well! But will he be able to do the same with a real cardboard puzzle? Will he know where to start (the angles, the edges) without a virtual guide, without “help” from the app? It is where mobile applications find their limit!
In addition, learning is based on an exchange between the child and the adult. Alone in the face of the digital interface, the child cannot interact with a reference adult who shows him, explains his mistakes, and corrects his misinterpretations.
As you will have understood, mobile applications are much more entertaining than really educational. It is not a question of banning them but using them only to complement “traditional” learning.
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Beyond the fact that they are not essential for the child’s development, mobile applications involve risks that should not ignored.
- Advertising is sometimes displayed inadvertently and exposes the child to inappropriate content for his age. Vigilance must therefore be required!
- In-app purchases: Free apps sometimes offer purchases to access additional features. A situation in which your child can be a victim without even being aware of it!
For Responsible Use
Before the age of 3, your child should not be exposed to screens. Beyond this age, and if he is a requester, you can authorize him to use a mobile application. Under certain conditions:
- Be present when your child plays with the screen to check what content they have access to.
- Observe the indications relating to age. Each platform has its signage in this area, which you can find here.
- Configure your tablet or smartphone not to purchase an application without your consent. You will thus avoid many surprises!
- Educational mobile applications are not essential for a child’s development.
- Watch out for pop-up advertising and in-app purchases!
- Your child should not be left alone in front of the screens.
To Know :
- Created by a young mother, the Applicakids website lists mobile applications for children.
- To help parents make their choice better, the PetitsGeeks website rates and ranks mobile applications for children.
- The gray mouse also offers application reviews according to 8 criteria: security, text or learning contribution, playfulness, animation, sound system, graphics, and ergonomics.
- The app-enfant.fr website also offers a selection of applications for 3-6-year-olds and reminds you that “play with the child, per session of 20 minutes maximum, then discuss the game achieved”.