6 great smartphone apps for kids

If you’ve got kids, you’ll know that they’re as interested in your phone as you are. Not everything out there is suitable, though, and it can be hard to tell which apps will catch – and keep – their attention. Keep them happy when boredom strikes by installing a few of these kid-friendly apps.

Plants vs. Zombies (iPhone, iPad) is the ultimate crowd-pleaser. Adults love it, so you won’t mind having it on your phone, and I’ve seen kids as young as 5 gets to grips with it immediately. It’s got great graphics, requires plenty of brain power and has some really funny dialog. Best of all, you can create as many player accounts as you need, so someone else’s badly-placed sunflower won’t destroy weeks of your zombie-fighting work!

Color Me (iPhone, iPad) is a great drawing app, and there are few kids out there who aren’t partial to a bit of coloring. There are lots of similar apps available these days for both iPhone and Android, but when it comes to getting the right one, it’s really worth paying for a full version. Your dollar will buy you a whole lot in usability and accessibility, especially for younger kids.

Talking Tom Cat (Android) is one of those apps that I just don’t get, but kids seem to love . It’s basically a digital pet cat that you can stroke, feed, play with and even talk to. You can also make him fall over if you tap him hard enough, but that’s probably not something you want to encourage the kids to do. You can make Talking Tom Cat say anything you want, and even record videos to play back later, guaranteeing minutes, if not quite hours, of fun.

Buka (Android) doesn’t score so highly on the educational front, but you can’t expect kids to be serious all thee time. This blob-exploding adventure focuses on getting Buka safely to The Happy Place, avoiding intruders as you go. The gameplay is leisurely and the graphics are mesmerizing, which makes it perfect for younger gamers, but the slow pace and childish baby-talk in between levels might not make Buka your game of choice.

Glow Puzzle (Android) is another one of those apps that at first glance looks like it’s all style and no substance, but a little bit of investigation reveals something that gives the brain a workout too. The aim here is to trace the shapes with your finger, but without lifting it from the screen. As you trace, the shapes light up in glowing fluorescents, and the shapes get harder as you go on. Every level shows you an encouraging message, and there’s help in case you can’t figure it out.

Trace (iPhone, iPad) is a fascinating games for everybody, adults and kids alike. This game sees you helping your character get from one side of the screen to the other, drawing to help him as he goes. It’s probably not great for very young kids, but the plinky plonk music and interactive nature of the game are sure to keep the older ones – and you – busy for a while.

Post updated 05-06-14

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