Selecting apps for young learners: What should be considered?

Document Type

Book Chapter


Cambridge Scholars Publishing


School of Education




Roberts, P. (2019). Selecting apps for young learners: What should be considered?. In L. Green, D. Holloway, K. Stevenson, & K. Jaunzems (Eds.), Digitising early childhood (pp. 173-189). Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing. Available here


In 2017 it was a decade since the iPhone was introduced. Since then has come the iPad and other variations of tablet-based touchscreen smart devices. The increased use of these devices has permeated all areas of modern life, including the entertainment and education of young children. The developers of applications (apps) for these devices have also targeted early years users with educational and entertainment apps being explicitly designed and marketed for use with young children. As the use of these digital technologies has increased, concerns have been raised about the amount of time children¾particularly those under three—are spending interacting with these devices. Currently, research is being conducted into the effects of the use of these devices. Much of this research is embedded in the tenet that a balanced approach is the best approach. Specifically, it advocates the need for a balance between “screen time” and “green time”—allowing time for young children to be outside playing and engaging with the natural world. The use of screen-based tablets and their associated apps has become common place in early years’ settings. This increased use has highlighted the need for critical evaluation, particularly with the plethora of apps now available. So, how can educators make decisions and manage the ways young children use these devices? This chapter outlines one of the frameworks that has been developed to assist in the evaluation of apps created for tablet-based devices. This examination includes reviews of numerous apps specifically designed for toddlers that have utilised these frameworks. The aim of the chapter is to provide key indicators that can be used by educators in making decisions about the selection of appropriate apps for use with young children. It is hoped that this information may also provide the basis for communication that could be shared with parents to help them navigate the maze of app selection for young children outside of the educative environment.

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