How can I tell if an app or a website is really good for learning?

By Common Sense Media®

Despite the claims of certain products that they teach your baby to read or do math, media that’s really good for learning may not produce immediate, observable results. Instead, websites and apps with the most learning potential help your child learn how to learn — and make them want to come back for more. It’s a bit tough to find the good stuff, but it’s worth it. Many of the apps, games, and websites that Common Sense reviews also are rated for learning potential, so check these lists and reviews for hand-curated good stuff.

Products that lay the foundation for lifelong learning encourage questions, foster curiosity, and support critical thinking. They teach by engaging kids, building concepts and deep understanding, providing feedback about performance (and adjusting difficulty accordingly), and providing opportunities to strengthen learning beyond the play session. A few that incorporate these qualities include open-ended sandbox games such as Minecraft, creative games such as Faces iMake, and math apps/sites such as DragonBox and Get the Math.

Use these pointers for finding apps and websites that are really good for learning:

Choose age- and developmentally appropriate products. Learn more about what’s appropriate at every age and stage.

Consider what you’d like your kid to learn. Are you interested in boosting certain academic subjects such as math and reading, or are you looking for skill builders for creativity, logical thinking, or social-emotional learning? Or both? Common Sense’s learning ratings evaluate each product’s potential for facilitating your child’s learning in these broad areas.

Let your kid’s interests be your guide. No sense insisting your kid play a dinosaur game such as Dino Tales when she really prefers the cute pups in Pet Bingo.

Investigate independently. Dig deeper than the developer’s description in the app store. Read unbiased reviews (such as ours), and download a demo if possible or play on the site.

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