Purely because I thought it would be interesting and I don’t think it has been done already, I’m going to track my baby’s (and any other babies i can get my hands on!) developmental milestones – but rather than the block-stacking, finger-thumb-opposition kind I’m looking at the TV remote, mobile device, smart-phone, laptop sort of thing.
Now when I say track, I mean a mum style track, the occasional update when I get time off from scrubbing Weetabix off the wallpaper. I’m not obsessive enough to chart her daily progress and I don’t think that would be healthy for either of us.
To keep it interesting I’ll also blog about and review baby friendly apps and other baby techy stuff. If you know of something good or have something you’d like reviewing let me know. I’m a geek at heart!
I’d love to hear from anyone else who wants to share their baby’s technology milestones – add a comment or email me.
Over Christmas I reorganised the home pages on my iPhone to put all the child friendly apps in one place, I also downloaded a few new ones to try and promptly forgot I’d done any of it.
Now that she’s a proficient sideswiper, I let Babi1.0 play with the phone in the mornings while I’m changing Babi2.0′s nappy or grabbing an extra 5 minutes in bed. She can easily navigate to ‘her page’ and find something to explore. This happens 2 or 3 times a week and other than keeping half an eye to check she’s not discovered any hidden in-app purchases I’ve pretty much left her to it.
About a fortnight ago she started asking if she could play ‘spider skinny blocks’. Umm what’s that!? Turns out it’s a Toca Boca building game. I asked her to show me how it works and then sat pretty gobsmacked as she demonstrated a fairly complex series of maneuvers and built a pink and purple wall. Later I had a look at what she’d been up to and found 5 other levels she’d been working on. Thumbs up again to Toca Boca for that one.
Feeling fairly proud of my girl I started scrolling through my photos, only they weren’t all my photos. Interspersed throughout my snaps of the two Babis playing and my baking exploits I find a series of 30 pictures of my bottom taken at toddler height another 20 or so of dolls, and a few cushions. The photos are taken on different days, it’s something she’s apparently been doing for about a month now. This isn’t something I’ve taught her directly, she has seen it done and worked it out for herself. They are deliberate attempts to take pictures and some of the results are lovely.
Babi2.0 recently had her 1st birthday. She’s been having fun with the Toca Band app but hasn’t quite figured out what makes it work. She keeps trying to recreate the music by wiggling her fingers over a locked smartphone screen whilst dancing, makes sense, that’s what she did the first time and it worked perfectly.
Other recent advances are that she has started to hold rectangular objects, phone, tv remote, toy with buttons to her ear and say “hiya, hiya, hiya, hiya…” Before 11 months she had been known to hold conversations via pasta and wooden blocks. She has identified the dvd remote as not being a phone because she points that one at the TV, usually during an emotional scene in a Tinkerbell as if to torment her big sister.
She attempted some interaction with Mwnci Bach, a more child friendly version of the popular talking cat and dog apps but soon got frustrated as there’s no dancing to be done.
Babi1.0 is honing her fine motor skills and can just about trace large letter shapes with jerky movements. The CYW alphabet app is an excellent tool for this.
The free version has over 24 animal sounds linked to photographs of the animals, an upgrade will set you back 69p. Tapping on the thumbnail plays the sound and shows you a bigger version of the picture, you have to tap the picture to return to the menu. Animals are divided into those well known biological kingdom categories of Cat, Cockerel, Rhino, Bird, Squirrel and Snake.
Pros – authentic sounds and good pictures provide some educational value.
Cons – you need pretty good fine motor skills to change categories as the buttons are tiny making it not so child friendly.
I just found #fourlittletesters on Twitter and Tumblr who are doing a far better job than me at trying out apps. They specialise in helping out “indie kids app developers” and there’s loads of great stuff there.
Baby Toy – Babi loved it 10months+ nice pictures and it makes lots of fun sounds. The fun sounds can all be played at the same time so it eventually drove me mad! The phone locking pattern is a nice idea but was easily unlocked by my little one.
Talking Tom Cat (free version) caused no end of tantrums (“Eee-ow! Ee-ow! MINE!!!”) and as amusing as it was to hear Tom squawking back, the constant prompts to update or buy add-ons completely detracted from the joy of having a very cute kitty talk to you. I appreciate that it wasn’t designed as a child friendly app, you can disable the “allow violence” feature, but even as an adult time-waster it’s more frustrating than fun.
Shoot Bubble Deluxe again not designed to be a child friendly app but lots of fun for little fingers. You tap the screen, it fires a coloured ball, it makes a funny sound, Babi giggles, hours of fun!
Artwork by the beautiful and brilliant Lauren aged 2 and three quarters who happens to have a learning disability.
Skitchcomes highly recommended for its ease of use, a friend’s little one worked out how to scribble a picture in seconds and was published on t’internet within minutes.
Baby Bus have lots of free apps for Android. We have been playing with three; letters, numbers and shapes. The alphabet one is good fun once you get the hang of the controls although I couldn’t work out how to move past the first level, I’ll put that down to my phone being a bit naff! Couldn’t get numbers to run without crashing the phone, again I’ll blame my phone but be wary if you’re short on memory. Babi likes the shapes one best of all because it’s easiest to understand but it is very repetitive and even she got bored of finding all the squares, crescents and “rounds”. Not bad for a freebie and kept Babi (26 months) entertained for a good half hour.