Apps for the Target Audience

I have a 3 year old and she has had an iPad for 1 year. Computers and phones are my working tools, so it was not an option to encourage her to use them. Also, I did not like the thought of this active and highly mobile little person sitting in a chair with a screen and mouse. I wanted flexibility (like at the kitchen counter while dinner is prepped), compact (teaches responsibility; close and put away after use), and simple (a 2 year old could use it). It made sense for us to start teaching our daughter about the digital world with this device.

Her life will be very different than mine. She will not have the burden of heavy textbooks, disorganized music, or getting lost in a new city. Information and knowledge will be readily available. A few months ago we looked up peacocks and listened to their call. Last week we saw one – she knew immediately what it was and mimicked his sounds.

Apps installed on her iPad include interactive books, digital books, number/letter games, puzzles, music creation, and drawing. Several apps are not visually appealing (to me) but get high rankings from her. The bight colors, simple shapes, and interesting sounds are the best. Those that make her think are the ones she returns to time and again.

I have discovered that many apps with 5 star ratings are actually a disappointment for my daughter. Adults are giving the rating instead of the actual user. I may totally love the aesthetics, sophisticated sounds, and learning objectives, but at this age my daughter does not yet have the life experiences to appreciate the beautiful visuals or she gets disengaged with repetitive information. She wants discovery, control, and smiling faces.

As a teacher, I encourage students to design for the target audience. The result will be successful. As a parent, I encourage others while interacting with an app to watch, and listen and give ratings based on the child’s experience. What works for adults does not always apply to children.

One more note: The use of iPad, TV, or digital is limited in our home – less than one hour per day. We also visit the library and check out 20-30 books per month and read them every night at bedtime.