A new study analyzed some of the most downloaded educational apps for kids, using a set of four criteria designed to evaluate whether an app provides a high-quality educational experience for children.
The findings show that most of the apps scored low, with free apps scoring even lower than their paid counterparts on some criteria.
The results suggest apps shouldn’t replace human interaction nor do they guarantee learning, says Jennifer Zosh, associate professor of human development and family studies at Penn State Brandywine.
“Parents shouldn’t automatically trust that something marked ‘educational’ in an app store is actually educational,” Zosh says. “By co-playing apps with their children, talking to them about what is happening as they play, pointing out what is happening in the real world that relates to something shown in an app, and selecting apps that minimize distraction, they are able to leverage the pillars of learning and can successfully navigate this new digital childhood.”
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