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On Developing for Kids: Educational Value, Parental Guilt, and Ruckus Media Group

Parents are tough customers to please. While it’s obvious that children’s apps and games need to be appealing to kids, it’s the parents that those apps are really targeting. Ruckus Media Group just announced the results of its national study about children’s educational apps and parental preferences. The research, done with research group, PlayScience, looked to investigate what app experiences parents provide for their children, what parents prioritize in children’s apps, parents’ involvement in their childrens’ reading, and parental guilt with digital devices. We spoke to CEO of Ruckus Media Group, Rick Richter, and obtained some additional information about the study.

Parents are the ones targeted by apps: only 29% of children (ages 4-8) download apps on their own. That leaves 71% of the apps being downloaded by adults. These apps are then heavily used by the children (60% use apps more than four times a week).

That 30%, though, is a significant number. According to the data, children don’t prioritize educational apps. The leading activities children performed on touch devices were playing games, watching videos, looking at pictures, and reading/listening to stories. So it appears that the best marketing for children’s apps will target the child’s interest while focusing on the 71% of parents who do the actual downloading. What do parents prefer?

A large percentage (60%) of parents have a significant amount of children’s apps on their mobile devices (more than five). And 39% of those parents have more than ten children’s apps. The parental preferences in their children’s apps hinges on a powerful priority – educational value. 88% of those parents are interested in the educational value of the apps.

70% of parents surveyed find apps through the App Store based on the apps claims of educational value. 72% of these parents aren’t convinced of that value, however. What educational factors are important to parents, then? The report states that problem-solving skills, creativity, topics in a subject area, and a focus on specific skills are all topics of interest to parents looking for educational apps. The factors that relatively few parents care about were things like multiple choice questions (29%), accreditation by teachers (22%), and a lack of games (only 4% of parents wanted educational apps that had absolutely no game or entertainment value).

The study states that parents are looking for interactive educational content (83% believe interactive content is important), even if it includes games and entertainment, as long as it meets those educational factors.

The research also looked into the guilt parents feel when letting their children use their mobile devices. And while 58% of parents feel guilty when their children use mobile devices (including tablets), that number reduces to 42% when the parent has ten or more educational apps on the device.

Ruckus Media Group has also made it a point to adhere to the Common Core Standards in their new line of Ruckus Reader book-apps. Apps adhering to these Common Core Educational Standards could be used by parents and educators as a standard of educational quality. At the very least, targeting the material in the Common Core Standards will make children’s educational app more suitable for a classroom environment.

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Kevin Stout
I'm a graduate of Youngstown State University with a B.A. in Philosophy. My iPhone and iPad were my favorite college tools. I'm always looking for the advantages of iOS apps for students and educators.
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