As parents, we want our kids to have access to the latest technology, but we also want to protect our kids from the latest dangers online. In this article we’ll help you make sure your children’s tablets have apps that are safe for kids or they are using safe apps when they use one of your devices. In another article we’ll cover ways that you can limit screen time and access to the Internet more generally for older kids. For now, here’s a list of the best FREE apps for children aged 5 to 8 years old.
The Safest Apps Are Available on Both Platforms
As we look at the apps in our list, we’ll be covering apps that are available on Android and iPhone / iPad (iOS), and are from well-known sources. This is a good general rule of thumb when looking for apps for your kids. An unknown app may promise some great features, but that could come at a cost, with a lot of junk ads, or questionable content. When in doubt, run a Google search to learn more about the app before downloading.
To be on the safe side, stick to well known apps and make sure they are the genuine or official version and not a knock-off. You can typically tell this by the official apps which have a badge stating “Official” or significantly more downloads, typically 1 million or more compared 10,000 for a knock-off version or “companion app” produced by a third party not directly affiliated with the brand name app. YouTube playlist apps are a good example of this, and most are junk. As you’ll see in our list below, all of the best apps for kids are official apps from well-known sources. With all these apps, check them out for yourself before letting your kids use them, you’ll know what’s best for your kids.
While their video player leaves something to be desired and the games are a bit watered down, PBS Kids still ranks as our number one source for apps for kids between the ages of 4 and 7 years old. All the familiar shows are there, and PBS has what many consider to be the highest quality children’s programming. The apps help reinforce lessons that are provided in episodes and give children a chance to have fun.
Endless Reader is a follow-up to their Endless Alphabet app and a great way for young readers to master their sight words. It’s a quality app featuring lovable monsters and one of the best ways for a child to use a tablet or phone, to learn how to read!
LEGO Juniors Create and Cruise
For creative play, LEGO has a great set of apps. This LEGO Juniors app is likely to be more popular with younger kids, and offers them a familiar building block experience. Older kids may get a little bored, for this we suggest checking out the other LEGO apps, they’re all good, clean fun. For parents who let their toddlers use a tablet or phone, there are also LEGO DUPLO apps.
While Sesame Street has lost ground to other kids educational and entertainment shows in recent years, it still remains as a great source of content for kids to learn and have fun. In many ways, they invented the concept. They have great free and paid apps, many which will appear to younger kids. For learning ABCs and 123s, the Sesame Street apps are some of the best. And you’ll laugh when you see the familiar characters you remember too!
While not all parents agree with YouTube Kids, it is something worth checking out, and a better alternative to the regular YouTube app. While the app is supposed to filter all content, some videos have slipped through, and parents have complained about advertisements. One step you can take is to disable the search feature in the settings to limit content that your kids are able to find in the app, this helps make it safer. When you want to give you kids a chance to “chill out” and simply watch a few videos, this is a good app.
All of these apps offer safe ways for kids to learn and watch videos online. It’s important to always check-in while your kids are using their tablets or smartphones, or your device. Make sure what they’re watching or playing is something you approve, and ask them about it or join in on the fun!