App Together

App Together! 

You, the parent or caregiver, are the most important part of your child’s learning process.

By making app learning fun, loving, and a positive experience that centers on your relationship with your child, you are supporting your child’s growth and development.

Graphic of owls.Choosing Apps for Young Children

What to Know:

  • Search for apps that have a photo or voice feature that honors your language, culture, and family.
  • Look for apps that have fewer features. The simpler, the better. Avoid apps that are visually overstimulating.
  • Look for apps that incorporate elements of the real world and include activities to try outside of interacting with a screen.
  • Seek apps that allow you and your child to advance through learning levels as skills build and knowledge increases.
  • Identify the purpose of the app. Does it support your family’s learning or play goals?
  • Know that it can be tough to find what you’re looking for without purchasing it. Your library staff is here to help!
  • Learn who’s behind the app. Does the app creator have a background in learning, childhood education or other related field?
  • Look for apps recommended and rated by educators, nonprofits, or librarians.
  • Identify the fee structure. Is the app available for a flat rate or are there multiple purchase levels?

Graphic of ghost.

Using Apps With Young Children

What to Know: Routines/Setting Limits

  • Screen time, including app time, is not recommended for children ages
    2 and under.
  • Take time to preview the app alone to ensure it’s right for your child and to understand how it works.
  • It’s OK to say, “No.” You know your child best and can best decide if your child will benefit from limited app or screen time. Setting limits helps your child learn patience and other important life skills.
  • Try limiting app use to one special time per week or day, to establish routine.
  • Try setting a framework around app use or rules. A timer can help with
    concluding screen time play.
  • If you notice your child getting frustrated or overstimulated, it might be time to take a break.
  • Try turning off the buy feature or setting.

Graphic of giraffe.

What to Know: Talk

  • Have conversations about what’s happening with the app – the more people engaged in the conversation, the more diverse the perspectives will be.
  • Try turning off extra features and sounds so you and your child can assume a greater interactivity with the app.
  • Ask open-ended questions about what you’re seeing on the screen.

What to Know: Shared Time

  • Make app exploration an interactive experience with your child.
  • Think about using apps as an opportunity to spend quality, shared time together with your child, not as something for your child to use alone.
  • Make it a whole family experience!
  • Ask what your child likes about a favorite app and see how you can recreate those positive learning conditions in non-app activities.
  • Take turns “driving” the app and see how the experience changes depending on who is making the decisions.

Graphic of dog.

What to Know: Beyond the Screen

  • Use the app to enhance real-life experiences and to help build memories – like using a zoo app before visiting the zoo.
  • Try pairing the app with a favorite related book to extend the learning experience.
  • Relate what happens in the app to experiences you and your child have in real life.
  • Print what your child creates in the app or send creations to family members to celebrate and document your child’s creativity.
  • Extend learning around the app by having conversations about the experience afterwards or by imagining how you will play together before you begin app time.

Selection Criteria