After a busy day of parenting, which includes but is not limited to convincing our kids to get dressed (including shoes on both feet!), cooking three different meals for three different picky-eaters, and attempting to potty train, we’re admittedly in need of a few quiet moments. How does one get some peace? Screen time, of course.
While this topic has always been up for debate, new research shows that more than 30 percent of kids in the U.S. play with mobile devices while still in diapers — and that it’s OK if it’s generating brain activity. In fact, pediatricians are looking to change their long-standing recommendation that older children and teens get no more than two hours of recreational screen time a day.
Dr. Ari Brown, chairman of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ group investigating media use and children, said:
“Look at our world. It has changed … and so we have to approach the world as it is and figure out ways to make it work. … [That two-hour daily screen time recommendation] is just not the reality of what’s happening and so we really need to kind of address our world as these kids are growing up as digital natives.”
The group is working on an update to their “outdated” policies and plans on releasing them later this year. This is a breath of fresh air for parents of toddlers who are constantly demanding to play with our phones and tablets.
But the one thing Brown did want to make clear? The quality of content is crucial.
“There’s a creative space that they can utilize in the digital world, and that’s fantastic, but there’s also a big time suck, too, of content that is not so useful, so I think it’s important for parents to really keep an eye on content, which I don’t think has been emphasized so much.”
That’s where we have you covered. We rounded up our favorite apps for toddlers that include everything from helping your tyke learn the alphabet and numbers, to aiding your child in learning to read — with a book they star in.
1. Endless Alphabet
Kickstart your little one’s reading habits with this playful alphabet app. Endless Alphabet helps kids learn their ABC’s with interactive puzzles alongside adorable monsters. The app also includes animations that explain the definition of the word to your tykes. We’d also recommend trying out Endless Reader and Endless Numbers!
2. Monkey Preschool Lunchbox
From learning letters and matching games to practicing counting and recognizing colors, this little monkey named Milo is about to become your child’s favorite teacher! The overall premise of this game is to help the monkey pack his lunch — maybe your tyke will be motivated to even pack his or her own snacks for the day!
3. Toca Band
Get the full rock band experience without actually having to listen to your kids bang wildly on a drum set with this amazing app! With over 16 characters to choose from, your little one can create and play with their own band. They’ll love the variety of sounds each character introduces into the game.
Available now for iPhone, $2.99
4. Intro to Letters by Montessorium
This inventive app allows parents to help their children work on their ABC’s without stealing all of their free time. Parents simply record their own voice for each letter. Then, the kids can select a letter and repeat after Mom or Dad! We were sold on their slogan from the start, “You learn best from the ones you love.”
Available now for iPhone, $4.99
5. Radio Disney Junior
Your kids can listen to their favorite radio station and watch their fave music videos whenever they want with the Radio Disney Junior App. Downloading this is a win-win for everyone — as long as you don’t mind having a Doc McStuffins sing-a-long 24/7.
6. PBS Kids Video
Looking for a way to kill some time in the waiting room or while you take a quick shower? The PBS Kids Video app is the answer. Using this app, your kids can watch videos from their favorite PBS KIDS shows. They’ll love feeling like they’re in control of the remote for once (who doesn’t?). Did we mention it’s free?
7. Disney Junior
Looking for even more videos to entertain your wild tykes? Fear not, Disney Junior is here to save the day. This free app will keep your kids busy for hours (or as long as their attention spans will allow). Not only can they watch their favorite Disney Junior shows, but they can play fun interactive games featuring their favorite characters. Sign us up!
8. Story Bots
The app you’re most likely going to find yourself playing around with? Story Bots. We’ve all seen those silly Jib Jab sing-a-longs, we may have even sent them around the office (who doesn’t love to see their co-workers dancing the can-can on a Monday morning?). Jib Jab Media Inc. has used their technology to let your child star in their own books, videos, and games. This is definitely a must-have free app.
Available now for iPhone