Apps for the win!
By Kimberly Blaker, September 2020 Issue.
Whether you need a solution to help monitor your baby, track and reward your kiddos for chores, or keep your teen from texting while driving, there’s a phone app that does it for you. The following useful apps are designed specifically for parents and families. Better yet, most of these parent-tested apps are free for both Android and iPhone.
Screen Time Parental Control. Android & iPhone. Free trial. This useful app gives parents a variety of controls to limit their kids› screen time. It also allows parents to block apps and games from their kids at bedtime or during school hours. Parents can even push a button on their own phone to time-out their kids phones when they ignore requests to get off their phones.
MMGuardian. Android & iPhone. Free. This pre-teen and teen monitoring app allows parents to monitor and block text messages, apps, calls, and URLs. It also has configurations to limit screen time.
Cozi Family Organizer. Android & iPhone. Free or paid upgrade. Manage and share your family calendar between all your devices with this app to keep everyone in the loop. In addition to keeping track of schedules, it manages reminders, to-do lists, shopping lists, and recipes.
Netspark Parental Control Light. Android. Paid subscription. Get powerful filtering with this app to protect your kids from harmful images, text, and video content. It also allows parents to set time limits for daily or weekly screen time.
ToddlyTic. Android & iPhone. Free 30-day trial. This app is an excellent way to communicate with your child›s daycare or teachers. It helps you stay on top of your childs attendance, grades,and more. You can also use the app to manage and make tuition payments to your child’s school.
Life360 Family Locator – GPS Tracker. Android & iPhone. Free. With this app, you can create «circles» of family members and friends. Then you can view the location of anyone in your circle on a map. The tracker can also send you text alerts when your child or teen arrives at or leaves a destination.
KidsPlace Parental Control by Kiddoware. Android. Free or paid upgrade. Block kids from buying or downloading apps and incoming calls with this app. Premium features include a timer that locks apps after a specified period or based on a permanent schedule.
ChoreMonster. Android & iPhone. Free. This app is a great way to gain kids cooperation with chores. Kids can keep track of the points they earn for completing tasks. Then they can use the points to buy rewards such as extra time for video games, a special treat, or family outing.
DriveSafe.ly. Android. Free or paid upgrade. If you have teen drivers, this app is a must-have. It reads text messages and emails aloud and announces the name of incoming callers without having to touch the phone. The paid version allows for a hands-free response to messages as well.
Baby Monitor 3G. Android & iPhone. $3.99. Monitor your baby with both video and audio, and receive alerts when your baby awakens. Particularly helpful, you can see your baby in the dark with this app. It also tracks how often your baby wakes, and it replays audio. You can also press a button on your phone to talk to your baby.
Wheel of Chores. Android & iPhone. Free. This app adds fun and excitement to chores. Kids can spin the wheel for a task and earn points toward rewards. At the end of the week, parents can distribute the money or prizes, or kids can bank their points to save up.
Fun phone apps for kids to stimulate thinking and creativity
With a massive sea of kids’ phone apps on the market, which ones best maximize kids’ media time? The following is a selection of kid-tested and parent-approved apps to help boost kids’ critical thinking skills and creativity.
Piano Kids – Music & Songs. Free for Android. Ages 3+. This top-rated app teaches kids and parents how to play musical instruments, including the piano, xylophone, and drums. It exercises children’s memory, concentration, creativity, listening skills, and motor skills.
Flow Free. Free for all platforms. Ages 8+. This color-based game offers various levels of play to sustain the interest of grade-school kids on up to adults. It improves complex thinking skills as players try to connect the dots to create pipes without crossing over another color.
Super Family Hero. Free for all platforms. Ages 4+. Kids and parents can enjoy this family game with individual levels of difficulty that make the game challenging yet fair to all players. Create custom Avatars, then use Interactive Stories to play mini-games, and attempt to defeat Dr. Excuses.
Heads Up! Free for Android. $1 Apple. Ages 6+. Based on the Heads Up! game created by Ellen DeGeneres, this family game is a blast for all ages. A player holds the phone on their head with an image facing out for the other players to see. The player’s teammate then acts out the image shown on the phone while the teammate holding it up has to guess what his teammate is acting out.
Kids Build & Crash Blocks Game. Free for all platforms. Ages 1 – 4. Toddlers and preschoolers can build tall towers with colorful blocks while learning their colors and numbers. When they’re done building, children thrill at crashing the tower. Your child can never lose in this game. The app also features fun sound effects and animations.
Lego City My City 2. Free for Android. Ages 7 – 14. With 15 mini-games in all, players go on thrilling car chases to catch thieves, blast off into space, and do underwater exploration. As players movethrough the game, they earn blocks and components to build vehicles and complete their missions.
Doodle Magic Joy. Free for Android. Ages 3+. This drawing app, with colors ranging from soft pastels to bright neons, offers a variety of art tools including pen, calligraphy, airbrush, crayon, pastel, sponge, eraser, and more. When doodles are complete, the art can be saved and even played back as a cartoon. This is a fun app for kids to adults.
Unblock Me Free. Free for all platforms. Ages 7+. This mental workout boasts 16,000 puzzles in all. The object of the game is to unblock the red block in as few moves as possible. Kids and adults can compete with friends and players around the world.
3/2 Chess. Free for Android. Ages 5+. Played much like standard chess for two players, this game is designed for up to three players. 3/2 Chess is a strategy game that boosts creativity and critical thinking skills.
Hoopa City 2. $3.99 for all platforms. Ages 5 – 10. Kids can build the city of their dreams with skyscraper apartments, shopping malls, and beach resorts in this 3D game app. Then they can play inside the city they’ve built, dress up their citizens, and even switch to night mode to see their city lit up.
Magic Tiles 3. Free for all platforms. Ages 7+. This massively popular piano game requires players to tap the black tiles while avoiding the white ones to generate beautiful, high-quality music. The app features additional instruments such as guitar, as well as a battle mode where kids can compete with other players around the world.
ColorMinis Kids. Free for all platforms. Ages 3+. With this color and design app, kids experiment with a variety of colors and materials, including Real 3D gloss, clay, glass, metal, and more. They can color and design anime figures, animals, robots, castles, and much more. When their design is complete, they’ll create animated gifs of their creations.
PBS Kids Video. Free all platforms. Ages 2+. Kids can watch their favorite PBS Kids shows wherever you go. This app is a fun form of educational entertainment for young children when riding in the car, waiting for appointments, and on shopping trips. In addition to thousands of videos of their favorite shows, they’ll also be introduced to the “Weekly Pick” of educational videos.
Drawing for Kids! Learning Games for Toddlers. Free for Android. Ages 2 – 5. This app is an easy way for even the youngest toddlers to learn how to draw. It includes fun sounds and animations as each drawing comes to life.