Share Your Computer in Peace With These 11 Kid-Friendly Apps

Kids love to use computers. That’s a fact. Even babies love to press buttons and see things happen. I completely believe that once a child is ready, they should be given access to a computer with quality “grown-up” software and the ability to really utilize the computer with less restrictions. Until they reach that age, however, you probably need some sort of solution to prevent your child from completely screwing up your computer.

Luckily, a number of apps exist that are great to include in the user account for your children. This roundup includes child-friendly browsers, games for learning and for fun and even apps to create digital content. Stick with me after the jump to learn more about some of the most popular apps out there for kids.

Browsing

Zoodles

First up are a few browsers that are geared towards providing child-friendly web access. Zoodles is one of the most popular (and free!) browsers for kids. Zoodles provides each child with their own playground, identified by their picture on the welcome screen. The interface is simple and easy for kids to access and understand. Available content is age-appropriate and changes as kids get older and more skilled. Kids can even play games, watch videos, read stories, make art and send video messages from within the browser.

Parents can utilize many helpful features as well. The parent dashboard allows you to customize accounts for each child and check out what they’ve been doing. You can check ratings and reviews to make sure your child is accessing quality content. You can also view and record stories, check out your child’s art, promote certain subjects within the browser and utilize parent play-along mode to look at the full version of popular sites alongside your child. It’s a well-rated and appreciated child-friendly browser, definitely worth checking out if you have younger children.

Price: Free
Requires: OS X 10.4 or later
Developer: Inquisitive Minds, Inc.

KidZui

Another popular browser for children is KidZui.   Like Zoodles, KidZui provides access for kids to a variety of pre-approved content rather than utilizing filters. Your kids can browse popular children’s sites and bookmark their favorites. Fun, kid-friendly games are included en masse as are kid-friendly YouTube videos. KidZui also incorporates some social networking aspects, allowing them to connect with other KidZui friends and users. It’s definitely a safe browser, so if you are a parent you can relax knowing that your child is safe using KidZui. The downside is definitely the pricier subscription costs, but at least grab the trial and give the program a go.

Price: $7.95/month or $39.95/year
Requires: OS X 10.4.11 or later
Developer: KidZui

Learning

Typing Instructor for Kids Platinum

Valuable computer skill number one that kids definitely need to pick up? The ability to type well. There are a number of apps out there to learn touch-typing skills, but for the younger kids, Typing Instructor for Kids is a great choice. There are typing plans geared towards kids aged 6-12, with 10 different choices for plan types. There are game challenges, stories, castle adventures and much more. If I didn’t know how to type, I think this might be my program of choice to learn. The games and stories are fun and interesting for all ages, and the program is addictive. Kids will be easily immersed in the program, so it’s definitely the way to learn typing.

Price: $19.99
Requires: OS X 10.4 or later
Developer: Individual Software Inc.

Team Umizoomi Math: Zoom into Numbers

Another important skill to practice is math. With Team Umizoomi Math, kids use math to explore Umi City, find surprises and master games. Skills included are counting, number identification, number comparision, basic arithmetic and a the number line. The five games are leveled and increase in difficulty as the player progresses. Kids can even earn trophies and badges as they play to unlock bonus locations and items. This app is geared towards preschoolers, primarily working on fundamental preschool math skills. The app worked incredibly well when I tried it out, and I think that the age-appropriate activities are engaging enough while still allowing kids to practice math.

Price: $9.99
Requires: OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: MTV Networks

Lola’s Alphabet Train

This game is designed for 3-7 year olds, to help kids learn letters and master basic reading skills. The application includes five alphabet games with skills included to learn individual letters, form a word and even memory matching games as your child grows in skill sets. The games get more difficult as your child progresses through, so the game should last a while. I think that the game is well designed, fun and easy to use. As a bonus, the game has the alphabet available in 5 different languages if you are teaching your child multiple languages.

Price: $3.99

Requires: OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: BeiZ Ltd.

ABC Owl: Spanish

The last learning app on the list is ABC Owl: Spanish, a great and engaging tool for those wishing to learn and master the Spanish alphabet. Each letter has beautiful artwork, carefully designed and well-implemented. The voice-overs are of a professional quality, and the app includes both upper and lower case levels. I wish there was a bit more to the application, but it’s cute, fun and easy to use and only costs a few bucks. If you need an interactive method to learn the Spanish alphabet, this is an easy way to do so.

Price: $1.99
Requires: OS X 10.5 or later
Developer: Beansprites LLC

Playing

Where’s Waldo? The Fantastic Journey

I loved looking at Where’s Waldo books as a kid, so I knew that I absolutely had to include Where’s Waldo? The Fantastic Journey on the list. It’s a hidden object game, where you must search for Waldo and his friends in 12 different, magical worlds. Powerups and challenges happen throughout the game, with events like frosty, which freezes the game and thunder clap which makes the screen shake. The game is great for kids on their own or to play together. It’s a great, high-tech take on a classic childhood book.

Price: $0.99
Requires: OS X 10.6.6 or later
Developer: Ludia Inc.

AlphaBaby

Most of the apps on here are for kids that are able to at least understand some of what is presented to them via the app. However, sometimes a very young child might want to give the computer a try. In that case, you have to be really careful or your computer might take a turn for the worse. AlphaBaby is a great application which allows you hand over your computer with significantly less fear of destruction. The app opens up and runs full screen, with quite a simple premise. Every time a key is pressed or a button is clicked a letter, shape or number appears on the screen. A variety of colors, lights and sounds are also used, as well as the ability to let you add your own pictures and sounds. Kids love apps like this, and you no longer have to worry about losing files or anything like that.

Price: $0.99
Requires: OS X 10.5 or later
Developer: Little Potato Software

Tiny Plane

For a simple, fun, entertaining and enthralling game, look no further than Tiny Plane. In Tiny Plane, you play as a dog pilot who must fly as far as possible. You fly high, for as long as you can, collecting powerups which allow you to extend your flight. You must dodge missiles and mines, while collecting fruit to up speed and flying through hoops for a solid boost. The graphics are cute and pleasant, the sound is well-designed and the controls are easy to use and master. It’s well-designed for younger kids, making for a great way to keep them safely entertained while on the computer.

Price: $1.99
Requires: OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: Chillingo Ltd.

Creating

Ok-Writer

Games and “learning” apps abound for children, but sometimes it’s important to focus on allowing them a way to create content and express themselves. Ok-Writer is a word processing application made for young users. The story window is full of large buttons providing easy to understand access to favorite fonts, colors, styles and tools. As your child gets older, you can help to provide easy access to more advanced tools, like spell check and such.

The app has a free trial, but the developers do ask that you pay the shareware fee if you like the software (though there aren’t any nagging messages asking you to pay, so that children don’t have to deal with that.) If your child wants to type up stories they write but Microsoft Word or Pages is too advanced, Ok-Writer probably provides the perfect level of functionality.

Price: $10.00
Requires: OS X 10.4.3 or later
Developer: Syndicomm

Kids Paint

Kids love to paint and create, so it makes sense that they will likely love the opportunity to continue creating, even when on the computer. Kids Paint is an experienced based application, where kids start with some templates and learn to color and add elements to the canvas. As time goes on, kids start with a blank canvas, once they are more familiar with the program. Kids can also try drawing on top of images and photos that you already have on your computer. Use this app to let your kids really start to learn and understand the world of digital art.

Price: $4.99
Requires: OS X 10.6 or later
Developer: iLife Touch

Kid Pix Deluxe 3D

Last but not least, a program for kids to start working with video and animation. This full-featured application provides an easy to understand but still intriguing interface. Kids can shoot video with the camera built into the computer and then add animations and effects to the video. Kids can also create complete animations utilizing only the included animations, backgrounds, paint, stickers, text and more. To get your kid started with video, definitely consider download this application.

Price: $49.99
Requires: OS X 10.6.6 or later
Developer: Software MacKiev

Conclusion

Finding apps for kids can be quite a challenge. Not only do you have to do the work of finding the applications – you also have to decide when to let them progress onto more challenging applications and how much access to give them to the internet and the great world available from a computer screen. Hopefully these apps make things a bit easier, at least for any of you with younger children.

Parents, educators and interested parties – what would you add to the list? Any must-have applications for those setting up a computer account for someone under 10? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


  • http://www.ferrero.org Fabio Ferrero

    Also Tux Paint ( http://tuxpaint.org ) is a great application for children. It’s free, multi platform (win/osx/linux), available in many languages.

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