As kids grow into tweens and teens, many parents worry about the apps their kids are using with their electronics. Are they safe? What are they sharing with whom? Are their apps useful or educational?
At school, kids may have already been introduced to organizational and collaborative apps such as Dropbox and Evernote. But what about the apps they are choosing to use in their free time? With all the concern about overuse of unhealthy and inappropriate sites and social media among tweens and teens, it is refreshing to know that there are some electronic apps available that are actually healthy, educational, constructive, and fun for your kids. Here are a few mom-approved apps to consider allowing your tweens or teens to download.
Duolingo is an easy-to-use free language app—with English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish versions. Duolingo tracks your language progress with a variety of levels, topics, and review sessions. One lesson can take about five minutes and includes new vocabulary and grammar, listening, translating, and writing. The associated website is free and provides even more options (as well as more interaction with others) for language learners.
With this app, any iPhone, iPad, or iPod becomes a recording studio! A variety of touch instruments allow your tween or teen to create music wherever they go. They can tap out beats, record their voice, and even have a jam session with up to 3 friends with their devices. Then they can arrange and mix songs with up to 8 tracks. Songs can be shared on social media.
If your teen is a voracious reader, look into this app. Goodreads is a free social media site for readers ages 13 and up, with a free app to go along. Your teen can keep track of books, read, review, and rate them, and find new books to read and new authors to try. The app can scan barcodes to add books to their "to-read" list. Heavily used by teens and adults alike, the site also features open and closed groups that anyone can create.
Night Sky 2
Just hold up your device to the sky, and Night Sky will show you constellations, planets, stars, and satellites in your field of view (even if you're under cloud cover or in heavy light pollution). The recent update includes a new search feature to help you find a particular object, weather info, moon phases, sunrise and sunset times, and information on the items it identifies.
There are a lot of Sudoku apps out there—some are free, some are not, some offer a new game every day, some have many, many levels. Finger Arts' free version, Sudoku 2, offers different levels (harder levels must be unlocked) with no in-app purchases or ads.
Weird but True (National Geographic)
National Geographic has been putting out their best-selling Weird but True books for years. With this app, users can get their trivia fix while on the go. Features include a "random fact" feature, rating the weirdest facts, sharing facts by email or social media, and fact bookmarking. Subjects include animals, science, space, weather, and more.