“Too much screen time will rot our kids’ minds!”
“Social media will ruin our kids’ lives!”
Social media, the internet, devices, screen time…
There is a lot of fear and distrust of computers, devices, social media and the internet when it comes to our kids, and I get it, really I do. I’m a parent too. I have tweens who use computers every day at school and who confidently navigate the online world in ways that were not even possible when I was their age. These days our kids can walk around with a computer in their pockets and the ability to share and connect in ways that are frankly a little scary. But it’s not all bad news.
Yes we need to set some limits and teach our kids to use devices safely and appropriately, and of course we want them to find a balance between screens and other activities, but we need to acknowledge that not only are devices here to stay, they can also be useful and lots of fun.
Instead of always telling our kids what they can’t do on their devices, how about we offer them some ideas of things they can do on their devices. How about we find some apps for tweens that are fun, creative, and maybe even a little educational!
Ten Apps for Tweens that won’t rot their brains (entirely)
Before you let your kids loose with these apps, make sure you check them out thoroughly yourself first. Some apps have ads, in-app purchases, online sharing elements or other aspects that may not be appropriate for your kids. I’ve tried to note these where possible, but apps change often so make sure your kids understand the limits and how to use their devices safely, and that you check in and supervise – but be warned, some of these apps are as fun for adults as they are for our kids!
Minecraft pocket edition
It’s not a cheap app but if your kids love minecraft they will love that it’s now available on their devices. You can connect with a couple of others and play co-operatively but you don’t have to set up a private server or part of a public group (which is a great way to learn how to navigate online social relationships) but you don’t have to, even playing alone there are lots of creative and learning opportunities with Minecraft.
There are also a couple of bonus apps that are great add-ons to minecraft pocket edition. MCPE Addons – like mods but for pocket edition find it on itunes here and google play here. Skinseed – for creating minecraft skins (designing minecraft people) – be aware that there can be a social element to this app if your kids share their skins online (mine don’t) and there are ads in this app (you can pay to have them removed). Find it on itunes here and on google play here
This app allows you to use whatever music is on your device and create an awesome music video. With loads of cool filters and effects this is a way to channel that obsessive love for that song into a creative endeavor. The basic app is free and works fine as is, but there are in-app purchases available. You can also upload videos to social media, so make sure you dicuss limits for sharing etc with your child first.
Find it on itunes here. There are similar apps for android but we’ve not tried any of them so cannot recommend a specific app.
Anyone can make music with this cool app. It’s super creative and even if your tween isn’t all that musically minded they can easily make all kinds of cool sound and music recordings. There are social sharing options available as part of this app so make sure you discuss those limits with your kids before downloading.
Be warned, your entire family will become addicted to this deceptively simple game! You’ll find yourself randomly wondering what will happen if you combine christmas tree with humans (you get Santa!) and other crazy things. See who will be the first in your family to create all 500+ elements!
I never thought my oldest kids would ever tell me that maths was fun, but they love this quirky maths game. It’s a great way to practice number facts, it’s free and there are no inapp purchases, ads to worry about.
Find it on itunes here. Sadly there is not an android version, the android app of the same name is not the same thing!
This is a fun obstacle course kind of game that is simple to play but really challenging. There are ads in this app, but you can pay to have them removed. There are also other inapp purchases, and push notifications that entice you to play, but if you turn off internet and notifications for this app that seems to manage the ads and bribes to play.
In this fun game you move the land not the characters! It takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s loads of fun and there are lots of funny characters to collect. There are in-app purchases in this app but we’ve always had fun just playing with the basics.
Stop Motion Studio
This is a great app for kids to play around with creating stop motion animation. Use drawings, or plasticine or even your Legos and shoot cool animations. Download our free printable storyboard for planning your animations and check out our other stop motion printables and ideas here. This app has in-app purchases but we’ve always had fun with just the basics. You are also able to share your animations on social media from the app, but there are parental controls within the app that restrict some access.
In this game you have to invent crazy things to meet the challenges, learning physics and engineering and other skills along the way. You get to try the app for free and then you can pay a one off fee if you want keep playing. We found the first free chapter was really challenging and it was well worth the small fee to get the full version.
Ok this app my actually rot their brains, but it’s loads of fun! It’s just like the original crossy road game but with little, blocky, Disney characters. There are lots of ads in this app and lots of incentive to either watch more ads or spend money on in-app purchases to buy characters, but my kids love the random characters you earn and forever comparing who has which character with their friends without ever buying any.
Do you have some favourite apps for tweens?
How do you manage screens and devices at your house?
Are their limits or rules around how often and what your kids can play?
Have you found any great apps that you’d recommend?
Managing screens can be a tricky thing to figure out, so I’d love it if you’d share your tips, advice and recommendations with us. Leave a comment below and let us know you manage it all.