I was recently checking out the Apple App store in the educational section (of course) and noticed a disconcerting trend – there is a LOT of the same content out there, particularly in the preschool/toddler age bracket.
It may be packaged differently, ie it’s a fish puzzle versus a dinosaur puzzle but essentially it is the same and not truly engaging enough for my kids.
The more I’m exposed to apps the more I realize that app developers are inadvertently placing limits on preschoolers and toddlers. My youngest thinks about things differently. I’ve seen him try an app that my oldest enjoyed and got frustrated with it. Why? Because the app has restrictions – it doesn’t operate the way my son wants it to. He wants things to go wrong and to see what happens. He is expecting a creative experience and doesn’t want to be limited by the app that he plays.
Here’s another example of what I am referring to: If my child is doing a spelling app, he spells the word “fish” and then a fish crosses the screen. Why is there only one level of engagement after a word has been spelled? Couldn’t the fish hide behind a rock and play peek-a-boo or ask the child to change the colour of the fish for more engagement?
Here’s one suggestion on how to make apps more interactive. How about implementing Easter eggs in apps to surprise and delight preschoolers? (Now I have no idea if what I’m about to suggest is possible; however I am quite confident that someone could figure it out.) Basically, an Easter egg, according to Wikipedia.org is an intentional hidden message, in-joke or feature and are usually seen in computer programs, web pages etc. Google introduced an Easter egg called the barrel roll in November 2011. If you type in the words “Do a barrel roll” in the Google search bar, it will turn 360 degrees. It’s cool and engaging.
If Google can implement Easter eggs why can’t apps? Continuing on with my fishy example, if my child touched the fishy three times then the fish would do a little fishy dance that re-spells the word “fish” or it could unlock a mini version of the Rainbow fish story on sharing. Those are just a couple of ideas. I’m sure there are lots more out there.
App technology is amazing! Let’s push the boundaries and come up with spectacular. (And yes, I’ll pay more than $0.99 cents for it!)
What do you think of today’s apps for toddlers? More of the same – puzzles and matching games or are we pushing the boundaries? Let me know at @weebootMom.