Zoodles Blog Learn and Play Every Day

July 21, 2010

How to make your iPhone kid friendly

Contributed By Ginny Haynies Zoodles Marketing Team

Contributed By Ginny Haynies Zoodles Marketing Team

According to reports, there are an estimated 40 million plus iPhones in circulation and 4.8 million Android devices activated per quarter. In addition, more than 3 million iPads were sold before July 1st. The sales only continue to grow and as the numbers increase so do the number of children with easy access to the Internet. With these devices comes the introduction of mobile applications for our children. As of September 2009, iPhone and Android users were downloading an average of 10 apps per month and iPod Touch owners at 18 apps per month. (http://blog.7touchgroup.com/tag/how-many-apps-sold-per-user/) A quick count of my own iPhone reveals 50+ applications with a large percentage of them being games, both fun and educational for my children.

According to Education.com there are currently over 3,400 education apps available for download at the iTunes store, with a large number of them targeted for children between the ages of two and five. They note that the top selling iPhone education app continues to be Wheels on the Bus and that “13 of the 20 top paid apps in this area are clearly child-directed.” (http://www.education.com/magazine/article/smartphones-kids) A quick search of the Android marketplace reveals the same trend occurring there. The preschool and young child market is clearly a hot topic and a market that is being heavily targeted.

Two great parent resources for finding great Smart Phone applications for your children are theiphonemom.com and momswithapps.com. While the iphonemom focuses more on iPhone/iPad applications, momswithapps also features Android applications. Their reviews and suggestions often lead you to some fantastic applications. While using discretion in selecting which mobile applications you choose to install on your device, you might also implement the 3 C’s approach to evaluating media for children as suggested by Lisa Guernsey, Director at the Early Education Initiative:

* Content – What is the basic premise of the app? How is it designed? Is it research based? Is it age appropriate? Does it come from a trusted source such as Sesame Workshop? There are a few great resources to help parents evaluate content, such as Common Sense Media and Children’s Technology Review.

* Context – Who is interacting with the child? How do parents talk about what’s on the screen? Is the child learning through a game, then applying that in another activity? Is the child telling stories about what he or she has experienced?

* Child – How much stimulation can this child take? What types of media trigger the most curious questions, playful reenactments, engagement and joy? What is she missing out on by spending time on the device – is she still exercising, socializing, and doing her schoolwork?

Apple reports that more than 1.7 million iPhone 4 phones were sold in the first week and that more than 75% of the devices sold were upgrades for existing customers. Which leads one to wonder: what is being done with the old phones? While many may be donated or resold, another use is to modify a few settings on your older model iPhone and let them function as an iPod Touch. Many of the current application offerings rival those of other popular hand held gaming systems and are quickly becoming more popular among elementary age children.

These same settings and suggestions are also easily applied to your own iPhone, iTouch, or iPad and will allow for some added security and protection if you choose to allow your child to play with your phone or device. These are all located under Settings -> General -> Restrictions.

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The first step is to apply a passcode that you will remember, but your child does not know so that you can keep the restrictions in place.

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Then you will see a list of choices of things you can either disable or set limitations to restrict. If you choose to use an alternate web browser application such as Mobicip or SafeEyes on your mobile device you will want to disable Safari so that you children will not get an unfiltered web browser. I also suggest you turn off YouTube. This will take away the button for YouTube, however, you would still be able to watch videos you have direct links to and through child safe video filters. This will keep little hands from navigating into Lady Gaga’s most recent music video accidentally. I also highly suggest you turn off In-App purchases. This will prevent your child from accidentally upgrading an application or purchasing something from within an application that they did not understand. Also located under settings are options for Music, Movie, App, and Podcast age ratings. Obviously the level that you choose to put these settings at would depend on if the device is being used by you primarily or if you are turning it into a dedicated child safe device.

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As always the best advice is to closely watch your little one, but these precautions and settings can help to make your iProduct a bit more child-safe.

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