, Salem, MA

July 19, 2013

Dr. Kate Roberts: What parents should know about the kids, technology and education apps

Dr. Kate's Parent Rap
Dr. Kate Roberts

---- — People love their computers! The technology we regularly use today is loaded with astonishing accomplishments that make it possible for people to access information anywhere at any time. We have ways to connect with family and friends who live far away and cannot be present in person. The opportunities and possibilities for growth, productivity and education are endless in the virtual world.

Yet, given all of the benefits of technology, there is growing evidence that too much technology and certain types of it can be bad for people, especially for children. Researchers have found that in the past 15 years, the rate of technology use has more than doubled. If we focus on just children, the increase is even more dramatic. As a result, experts in child development are increasingly expressing concerns regarding how the overuse of technology impacts a child’s brain, especially at younger ages.

That being said, education technology can still be a wonderful thing, especially for children age 5 and older who are perhaps already being introduced to technology in their kindergarten technology classes. There are so many apps out there to choose from — How do parents decide which ones are best for their children?

According to the experts, education apps should encourage deep inquiry, critical thinking skills and engaging learning experiences. Technology apps that focus on various aspects of learning are highlighted here via different sources. What follows is a well-rounded list that will be very useful for parents who want their kids to have an edge while using and building upon their technology skills.

Drawing and art

Let’s Learn How to Draw! — This app for all ages is great to use, thanks to its very clear interface and the lighthearted way it instructs you as you draw.

Interactive Sketchbook — For ages 4 and up, this app has four very detailed lessons from an artist. Each lesson talks you through the process of drawing a portrait by showing you how the artist draws, step by step.

Kids Doodle — For all ages, this is a drawing app designed for kids so they can have an easy-to-use canvas to paint on.

Let’s Color! — For kids age 4 to 10, this free app contains a simple drawing program and a series of 18 pages with drawing prompts.

Music and video

Videolicious — This video creation app for age 6 and up allows kids to choose photo or video content already saved on their device, record a narration and select a copyright-free song from the in-app library.

Guitar! — Kids age 10 and up can strum or pick an on-screen guitar to generate musical sounds as they play along to vocals recorded by real pop stars.


Bugs and Numbers — By playing through 18 games, kids from 4 to 8 learn early math concepts, including numbers, how to count, comparing sizes and sequence.

Math Blaster — Parents need to know about this great online role-playing game for age 7 and up that is centered on educational play.

General creativity and learning

Faces iMake — This is one of the most creative apps in iTunes. It encourages kids (age 4 and up) to create faces using unusual collage materials. By thinking outside the box, kids arrange candy, toys, fruit, musical instruments and more to create fanciful faces,

TinkerBox — This app for age 7 and up combines engineering, puzzles and design. Children are encouraged to problem-solve, apply new skills and use their imaginations. They can invent crazy machines and share them with friends or with the app developer.

Pettson’s Inventions 2 — Old man Pettson and his talking cat, Findus, have 37 inventions for kids age 7 and up to re-create. Engineering is fun with this zany, hands-on building kit.

Where’s My Perry? — This physics puzzler for age 8 and up stars a secret agent platypus named Perry from the Disney television show Phineas and Ferb. In each puzzle, the evil Dr. Doofenshmirtz has placed obstacles to make things more difficult.

Khan Academy — For age 12 and up, this is a free educational app that supplements the Khan Academy website and The Khan Academy for children. Kids (and adults) pick tutorials of interest from the large library of nearly 3,000 educational videos on various subjects like math, science and business.

Educreations Interactive Whiteboard — This is an app designed mainly for teachers to present lessons, but kids 13 and up can also use it to create presentations or to study. Teens and adults can create slide show-style lessons or presentations using typed or handwritten text, photos or graphics and voice recordings.


Dr. Kate Roberts is a psychologist and parent coach on the North Shore. Questions can be directed to, or