Education apps - Appy Pie

Educational Apps for Kids: Do They Work?

Originally Posted By Gareth Greenidge  | June 25, 2014  | 5-min read
Jayraj on August 28, 2020  

Apps for children are prevalent in the smartphone app market. They are a very popular category of apps too. So popular that our no-code app building software Appy Pie AppMakr has seen a massive growth in the creation of educational apps for children throughout 2020.

But there is one question that lingers in every parent’s mind who download these apps for their children and toddlers - Do they work? That is a question we’re trying to answer with this blog. Before we go on, however, here are a few statistics about kids apps - Children’s Apps - Appy Pie

The Benefits of Educational Apps for Kids

The prominence of educational apps has a solid base in the various benefits that kids apps provide. Let us discuss some of them:

  • Engagement
  • Apps made for toddlers and kids are highly engaging. They are mentally stimulating and fun to use. They are full of bright colors that children absolutely love and it can get them to pay better attention at apps. For example, ABCmouse provides an extensive range of enjoyable science games specifically crafted to ignite curiosity and foster engagement in children. It’s easier for children to focus on an app than a school lecture.

  • Individual Learning
  • The strongest advocate for educational apps is the ability they give teachers to teach each child individually. Every child learns differently. Some children learn better through visual cues, some through hearing and some through reading. To ensure each child has the best possible chance at learning, we need to adapt to their needs. And an app makes it easier to adapt to each child's needs. Infact, this is exactly what Appy Pie’s own Kids Apps Builder does too!

  • Removing Special Barriers
  • An educational app can help disabled children learn more easily. For example, an autistic child can learn social skills with the help of an app.

Various Observations on Educational Apps

Various researches have been done on educational apps. Here’s what they have observed.

  • Apps Appear to Promote Literacy in Young Children
  • The first major observation is pretty obvious. Many apps for children have significantly helped promote literacy in young children. The ‘Martha Speaks’ application showed promise in helping children improve their language skills. Designed for children ages four to seven, the app introduces new words and vocabulary using three mini-games and a quiz. The study monitored children's use of the app and ultimately reported significant educational gains in each age group. Five to seven-year-olds in particular saw a 20% increase in relevant language skills after they used the app. The Super Why app also appeared to promote literacy skills, especially in younger children. The sample group of children ages three to six were given a test: 20 questions that involve letter sounds, rhyming, sentence completion, and visual and verbal vocabulary. The study found the app helped young children make significant gains in these language learning areas. Three-year-olds especially benefited from the exercise.

  • “A Microcosm of an Optimal Learning Experience”
  • The Michael Cohen Group, a research team dedicated to studying education, child development, and growing societal trends, also looked into learning through apps. They observed that children's learning through app play takes several forms:
    • the tacit process of figuring out the game and how to make it work for them
    • the gradual mastery of more explicit learning tasks embedded in the game narrative
    • applying skills they learn to other levels or types of play.
    Ultimately, researchers found that in addition to lessons built into the app children derive other educational benefits from playtime. For example, in a literacy game, children may expand their vocabulary, but meanwhile, interacting with the app they are also improving their motor and exploration skills. MCG concluded that “this mode of interactive learning offers a microcosm of an optimal learning experience that involves active exploration, construction of solutions and learning explicit content.”

  • It Comes Down to Keeping Their Attention
  • The biggest challenge that both parents and educational institutions face when it comes to teaching their kids is dealing with a young child's short attention span. Interestingly, both studies identified attention span as one of the main barriers to successful learning through apps. Bottom line: the longer the app holds the child's attention, the likelier it is to help them learn. After monitoring the use of educational apps, both studies isolated six key criteria that contribute to holding the attention span of youngsters:

    • Developmentally Appropriate Content
    • The content of the app has to match the learning ability of the child. The study revealed that if a child found the content too difficult or too easy, interest was rapidly lost.

    • Fresh, Dynamic Content
    • The game shouldn't end once a particular goal has been achieved. Providing different levels and goals engaged children for longer time periods.

    • Wait Times
    • Children got bored or impatient if they had to wait for content.

    • Humor
    • Children sought out activities that made them laugh and tended to stay engaged in those activities for longer periods.

    • Incentives and Goals
    • Collecting prizes or badges appeared to motivate the children to continue playing the app. The kids also enjoyed telling others about their high scores.

    • Parental involvement
    • Having a parent as a playmate motivated children to keep on playing. Not only can parents or adults explain the app to the children, but playing together helps reinforce how the learning relates to activities outside of the app.

Conclusions About Educational Apps for Children

Recent studies illustrate how apps indeed have the potential to be successful educational tools, especially for young children, providing lessons inside and outside the app. The criteria identified gives parents insight into how children learn and some idea of which apps will be most successful. Of course apps shouldn't be the only medium for play. Parents should consider kids' use of appropriate apps in the way they would any other educational game. The obstacles to learning through apps are the same as learning through traditional means: keeping young children engaged. Making educational apps shouldn’t be difficult either. As a parent, you may make a personal education app for your own children too. Infact, it’s easier than you think and doesn’t require you to know coding. You can start today with Appy Pie Appmakr. Create Your First AppTry it out and make your first educational app for free. Here’s a guide on how to create an app with Appy Pie AppMakr?

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Abhinav Girdhar

Founder and CEO of Appy Pie