iPad Apps For Kids For Dummies

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When I bought my iPad in 2011, I was an app downloading fiend. If I saw a free app, I downloaded it. I felt like it was free so I should. At the beginning I was pretty unsavvy as to what made a good app and what didn’t.

Now that I’ve had it for a couple of years, I realize that there are ‘meh’ apps, ‘good’ apps, and (gasp) ‘really good’ apps « and those are the ones that are worth paying for.

iPad Apps For Kids For Dummies

A week or so ago, another For Dummies book arrived in my mailbox. It was with great delight that I opened it to read its contents. Designed for adults to hash through the thousands of apps available in the iTunes store, it lets you know about the ‘really good’ apps that are worth doling out the bucks for to download for your kids.

The iPad is a great tool for children as young as 2 years old to learn and play with their parents on. But downloading apps can be hit or miss, and your kids may not be engaged with some of the apps you find, and equally you can be unimpressed with the app’s design, its performance, and/or the ads or in-app purchases that it has. iPad Apps For Kids For Dummies written by Jinny Gudmundsen who is the Kid-Tech columnist for USA TODAY, has done all the leg work for you and gives you the skinny on over 200 apps for your children. The apps range in suitability for toddlers up to 12 years old (some of them would be enjoyed by teens and adults too, but the essence of the book is downloading apps for that age range). It will change the way you look at an app and how you evaluate what a ‘really good’ app is.

The book can be picked apart in any order really. The chapters are themed by age or by subject matter (art, books, games, science, etc.), but it’s really worth reading the Introduction before you skip through to the chapters. The reason why is Gudmundsen explains how the book is organized and the criteria she set out to choose the apps curated in the book. Likewise Chapter 1 gives valuable information on how to use an iPad with kids including how to set up a password lock, using the guided access feature available in iOS 6, and creating folders on the iPad.

You’ll notice nearly all of the apps she recommends you have to pay for. Actually there’s a reason for that. Most free apps have ad support and/or in-app purchases which can not be toggled off. For curious fingers this can take them out of the app, to inappropriate websites, or leave them frustrated if you have in-app purchases turned off or a password to proceed, because they are touching, touching and nothing is happening.

You’ll find some recognizable apps among the pages, including Angry Birds, Cut the Rope and Where’s My Water?. But you’ll find many, many, many more apps that will intrigue you to download. Even though we don’t have any kids in our home in the age ranges the book was compiled for….I already have a list of apps I want to download, both games and learning apps.

I think my favorite thing about the book is the way it is organized. Because parents often download an app for a specific purpose, it’s nice to be able to quickly page to a chapter and see what was recommended for that topic. Say you want a math app to help your child with their multiplication tables, well you can just head to the “Learning Apps: Math” chapter and see the apps that Gudmundsen lets you know are worth the money to download. Or you want something the whole family can play together, then page over to Co-Op and Multiplayer chapter. At the very least, this book will also give you ideas on how to search for other apps in the iTunes app store, to help you find what you’re looking for, although there is plenty in this book to keep you going for a long time.

In my going through the book, I recognized that being a chronic ‘free’ app downloader is not a bad thing for it lets you try out an app and see what it can offer you, but dishing out money for a ‘really good’ app can be worth the cost on a number of levels and this book makes it easier to not just see that, but to find apps that are worth the cost. Gudmundsen also makes a valid point to make sure that when you’re searching for an app to download to pay close attention to the reviews, an app worth paying for is likely going to have a lot of good reviews, read them so you get a better idea of what other parents think of the app and its appropriateness for your child.

The downside of a book like this (as is anything that deals with technology) is that apps are being developed every day, and a lot of them. That means by the time this book went to printing there were probably hundreds of new “really good” apps in the iTunes store that could have but didn’t make the cut in this book. But Gudmundsen, has helped you two-fold in that regard. First off she reviews apps that aren’t just new, but have stood the test of time, have been supported by developers and are just as compelling today as they were when they were released. Secondly, she gives you the tools to evaluate what makes a good app on a number of different levels. The interface, the interaction, the interference level (links to the internet and social media sites, in-app purchases, ads, etc.). Because of this you’ll soon have a treasure trove of new apps on your iPad for your children.

About Purchasing

iPad Apps For Kids For Dummies is available at book retailers nationwide as well as on Wiley.com. It retails for $19.99, but I think that if you download just a fraction of the number of apps in it, it will have been worth the cost of purchasing.

One thing I want to note about the actual book is that it is a more compact version of the For Dummies you may be used to. I really, really like that. It measures just 9×6, and is much easier to hold without a lot of heft then many of the other For Dummies books. It also is in full color, which really enhances the reviews Gudmundsen gives as each review includes the app icon and a screenshot.

I received a copy of iPad Apps For Kids for Dummies from John Wiley & Sons, Inc. for review. All opinions are my own. Published by Tammy Litke.

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