App Friday: 10 Tips for Downloading Family-Friendly Apps

It’s a soft App Friday today because iTunes Connect is closed for the holidays, which means developers can’t change prices for their apps. However, we still have plenty of news to share. Let’s talk about what happens during the holidays when someone unwraps a shiny new iDevice, and the kids reach for it. Where do you go from there? 

1. Have a goal. Why is your child using the iPad? To learn an academic concept? To chill out? To communicate? To listen to a story? I like to have a reason for media use in our home. When in doubt, I refer to the American Academy of Pediatrics on technology and child development:

2. Try out some free apps. I’ve been collecting a list of family-friendly apps that are currently free, so you can get a feel for what type of content is available. They include: iLuv Drawing Santa, Toca Hair Salon Christmas, Arthur & Charles, Snow Wonder (mine!), Lil Painter, Casey and Bella Book, PreK Letters & NumbersHungry Fish, and Toontastic (last three apps include options for  in app purchases). If you have more recommendations, please leave a comment or a link on the Link Exchange. I hope this helps with an initial “set-up” for your family-friendly iDevice. Oh, and read #3…

3. If it’s free, know WHY it’s free. Understand WHY an app is free before you download it. Is it ad supported? Is it free to download, but with In App Purchases? Is it on sale? Is it no longer being updated? Is it a loss leader for a larger brand? All of these scenarios are possible, and it’s helpful to know where you stand as a consumer before you get caught by surprise.

3.5 (This came up after posting and I have to get it in) Know your options under Settings > General > Restrictions when setting up your iDevice. YOU have the ability to turn OFF IAP, or Push Notifications, activate a password, or even restrict apps by rating. Becoming familiar with your settings can optimize your device for your family’s specific needs.

4. Decode the iTunes App Description, and PREVIEW the app before “hand off”. I try to emphasize that people use their own discretion before downloading. Look closely at an iTunes App Description: Is it written clearly? Are the learning goals listed? Has the app been updated recently? What do the reviews say? Here is a reference post on decoding it further: Even better, check out the app yourself before letting kids “play”. Are there pop-ups and purchase options? What about social media buttons? It is my job, as a parent, to make informed choices on the content my kids are using.

5. Don’t be shy. Do you have a question about the app? Many independent developers that I know find a lot of value in customer feedback and interaction. If you are curious about an app, try reaching out to the developer directly. Their contact information is linked in the iTunes App Description under “support”.

6. Learn how to party.  Price changes and promo codes are ways that developers can draw attention to their app on a crowded app store. Look for sales on various review sites. In our community, we run App Friday every week, in addition to a “Download Party” on Facebook. The spirit of the promotion is to build buzz for the apps while offering free or specially priced incentives for consumers.

7. Read the news. Hats off to Garry at Jellybean Tunes for his consistent work on the App Reports. Every week for the past 10 weeks, he has volunteered to pull the latest Product Announcements from our forum and format them into a blog post.

8. Befriend the Bundle – One of the reasons app developers do so much cross-marketing is because they don’t necessarily consider themselves competitors. I have eight apps for multiplication tables on my iPad. We use them all, in different capacities. They each have their strengths. I’ve started “bundling” apps on Pinterest because I like the clean format of the site. My next bundle will be “Apps for Creative Play”. Stay Tuned!

9. Watch the stars. One of my favorite endeavors of the past year has been to highlight developers using the Moms With Apps Banner and Banner Program. Watch this program in 2012, because this is where I’m going to point when people ask, “Which Apps?”.

10. Leave a review in iTunes. If there is ONE THING you can do to “vote” for great family-friendly content, it would be to leave a review on iTunes for the apps making a positive difference in your home. That star recommendation, and specific words of endorsement, go such a long way for making a developer stand out on a crowded store.

That’s my 2 cents. I hope it helps! In the meantime, if you are looking for specific apps to download, consider visiting our Facebook Wall or browsing our Link Exchange – details below…

Find Us On Facebook

Moms With Apps recently opened their Facebook page to accept public posts. Whenever developers have news to share, they can post directly on our wall at On App Friday December 23rd, feel free to stop by and mingle with developers. I’ll pop in occasionally to say hello and “Happy Holidays”. 🙂

The Holiday Link Exchange

You’re invited, over the holidays, to read the Link Exchange to find what’s new and exciting in the world of family-friendly apps. Developers, post your apps, YouTube demos, Facebook pages, or anything else to help people get to know more about you and your app. Enjoy!


8 Replies to “App Friday: 10 Tips for Downloading Family-Friendly Apps”

  1. Great post Lorraine. I especially liked number three. Parents need to know what they are getting when they download a free app for their child.
    Also excited to see how we can use Pinterest as a way to share our favorite apps with each other.
    Happy Holidays!

  2. I think it is a great initiative to allow linking to our apps in your post. Thank you for that.

    And very good tips. “Don’t be shy” – that is so true. Just drop a line to developers if there is a question or something doesn’t work as intended..

    Merry Christmas to everyone!

  3. That’s a great list! It has been on my to-do list to write something similar for ages but all is there… I think we’ll simply put a redirecting link on our website.
    Thanks for posting it and a fantastic year 2012 to MomsWithApps et al. !! I was told it’s the year of the dragon… it should be legendary 😉

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