Last year, an analysis of education content on iTunes highlighted a surprising statistic: Of the "apps" in the education section of the iTunes app store, the greatest percentage of children's titles are aimed at toddlers and preschoolers. What are those apps like? Why are they so popular? Do they really deserve the label "educational" – or are they no more than eye-candy for the next generation of gamers?
A new report released last month, Learning: Is There An App for That?, takes an in-depth look at these "educational apps." Adult mobile devices, it says, are turning into temporary playgrounds for young kids because parents often pass them back to their young children while, say, driving to the store. In fact, this phenomenon now has a name – the "pass-back" effect. For this podcast, I spoke with Carly Schuler, who co-wrote the report with Cynthia Chiong, research associate at the Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop. Schuler and I talked about what makes these apps attractive to young kids, which apps show signs of being developmentally appropriate, and what teachers and parents should keep in mind when – as happens often in our house – children start asking "Mom, can I play on your phone?"