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The best apps for under fives

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We live in the age of electronics, and many mums would understand just how hard it is to keep tiny fingers away from the ‘total entertainment package’ that is the household smart tablet/phone. So when a mum recently asked our Facebook Group about the best apps for her preschooler to assist in distracting them while she fed and spent time with her newborn, our mums knew exactly what she needed!

Sarah: My kids love Toca Boca apps for kids, but discovered Dr. Panda games recently, and Endless Alphabet and Endless Numbers, which are great, too. They also love the Lego apps, which are all free. There is also an Facebook page and website called Smart Apps For Kids which have free daily apps.

Jacinta: I have a 27-month-old daughter … and we like the Originator Kids apps … Endless Alphabet, Endless Numbers, Endless Reading, etc . Peppa’s Paintbox also a hit – keeps her going for ages.

Kate: Dr. Panda games and Little Fox Readers and Songs. The Very Cranky Bear storybook app has been a big hit in our place.

Noa: My three-year-old loves the Play School apps and Peppa’s Paintbox app.

Holly: Ooh am getting some ideas here! DS (two years and seven months) adores the Elmo Loves ABCs app, ABC iview, Little Charley Bear app and the Snake Puzzle app. We also have all the Sago Mini apps, which are lots of fun. Oh and the StoryBots collection of apps!

Angela: Ocean Swimmer by Sago Mini is a cute one.

Tanya: Wonderkind Toddler Seek & Find gets my vote. There are a few different options (circus, town, firefighter, airport, etc) and they were all standout favourites for my little guy. Highly recommended. He actually still enjoys them and he is now four.

Mary: Play School, Sesame Street/Elmo are all great and educational.

The new PlayKids app

The Playkids app is a really terrific entertainment hub for preschoolers. They can watch their favourite TV shows (including Octonauts, Ben & Holly’s Little Kingdom, Fireman Sam, Justine Clarke, Wiggles and Mister Maker), play games and even read books. The only downside I can see is that the books are narrated with an American accent, which could cause our kids to mispronounce words as they are learning to read (but you can always turn the sound off and read the books yourself). What I really like about the app is that once the various shows, books etc are downloaded they can all be used offline, so you won’t be bombarded by massive data charges. Parents can also control what their kids see and give them access only to age-specific content.

PlayKids can be downloaded for a week’s free trial from or you can subscribe for $8.99 month. Until 31 July, you can actually get a year’s subscription for only $16.99 (83% off!). Download the app on iTunes, or Google Play (for android devices). 

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Is screen time bad for our kids?

University of Western Sydney’s Joanne Orlando (PhD) is a leading expert in the field of children and technology and believes that misinformation is causing many parents to feel a lot of guilt and confusion when it comes to screen time and the impact of technology on their kids. She says:

  • There is no valid research that tells us that children are advantaged if they only play with old-fashioned toys.
  • Claims of the dangers of screen time for kids are usually based on research that lumps all screen use together and most of it is 20-30 years old. It’s still important children develop their motor skills but the extra opportunities the screen provides, is really exciting for both learning and play.
  • Research continually shows that technology can enhance traditional social skills as well children’s ability to communicate using technology, and not actually isolate or hinder social development as many believe.
  • Our children are born into a different time and it’s important they be raised in ways relevant to their era. Technology offers young children important and distinctive experiences, which can make a difference to their learning.

We’d love to hear your ideas for apps and thoughts on screen time for young kids in the comments section below.

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