Cupcake Digital, Inc. 860 Broadway, 3rd Floor, New York NY 10003 www.cupcakedigital.com Cupcake Digital shares expert findings on app use by childrenand develops sound guidelines.April 19, 2013Continued improvement of our products requires broadawareness of the conversation parents, caregivers andeducators are sharing about the value of apps – both positiveand negative. In this position paper, we address some of thequestions being raised in an interview with Natascha Crandall,Ph.D., founder and owner of Crandall Consulting, aninternational research and consulting firm that is committed toimproving the educational quality of entertainment for children.Dr. Crandall earned a Doctorate in School Psychology fromTeachers College, Columbia University and also holds aMaster’s in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University ofMaryland, and a Bachelor’s in Developmental Psychology fromPennsylvania State University. She directed the education,research, and outreach activities for a number of hit shows thathave aired on various networks including: Nickelodeon (PeterRabbit, Bubble Guppies, The Backyardigans, The Wonder Pets),Disney (The Octonauts), and CBeebies (Sesame Tree).(www.crandallconsulting.org)Objective:1) To share current expert information and research on theadvantages and disadvantages of app use by children (informationwe use as a framework for the continuous improvement of CupcakeDigital’s products); and
Cupcake Digital, Inc. 860 Broadway, 3rd Floor, New York NY 10003 www.cupcakedigital.com 2) To provide parents and caregivers with guidelines for using appsas a supplement to children’s learning.Background:Technologies, including apps geared toward children, are a fast-growing industry. The challenge for many parents, caregivers andeducators is how to fit these technologies into children’s lives in away that is enriching and allows them to benefit from them. Foranswers, we began by consulting with Dr. Natascha Crandall. Theinterview we conducted with her follows:What studies have you seen related to the effects of apps onchildren?Of the few studies I’ve seen, one commissioned by PBS on twoof their literacy apps (Martha Speaks and Super Why) showedsignificant gains in helping young children with letter identificationand teaching new vocabulary words. While the apps proved to bevery effective in their educational missions, researchersconcluded that the gains may have been greater if the subjectmaterial had been age appropriate (some of the older childrenwere already familiar with letter identification) and maintainedtheir interest enough to return to these apps again and againduring a two-week period. To teach the necessary skills, it isimportant to create apps with children in mind – apps thatmaintain their interest, so that these skills can be practiced -- and then research them with as many children as possible.This process will give a clearer picture of how children of
Cupcake Digital, Inc. 860 Broadway, 3rd Floor, New York NY 10003 www.cupcakedigital.com various abilities are able to decipher the intricacies of theappHow would you evaluate apps as a learning tool?Apps have the potential of being great learning tools. Parents tend tosee apps as a gaming tool, more so than a learning tool, just as thetelevision used to be seen as solely entertainment-based rather thanas a way to learn through entertainment. By creating apps withsolid educational structures, researching the effectiveness ofthe apps with young children, and educating the public aboutthe benefits found when using the apps, this method of learningcan become even more valuable.Are there developmental issues related to app play?Apps designed for young children need to consider their evolving finemotor skills. Play buttons should be more obvious and larger for easyand accurate tapping. Adequate sound quality is essential so thatchildren can hear the directions. And, it should not be possible forusers to skip sections that contain the educational element inorder to get to the reward section.What role do you think apps should play in an overall learningprogram?At this point, the best use for educational apps is as a supplementallearning tool. If an app can reinforce skills that were taught inschool, maintain a child’s attention and interest, and teach new skillsthat can be transferred to other activities outside of game play, thenit would be beneficial to include in a learning program.
Cupcake Digital, Inc. 860 Broadway, 3rd Floor, New York NY 10003 www.cupcakedigital.com How does playing with an app differ from watching educationalTV?Television and apps are two different forms of media. One is passivewhile the other is interactive. A child with an app has total control,and playing the game requires a child’s total attention. Even ifthe app is a video, a child can pause, rewind and replay his or herfavorite parts. From research investigating the differences in realworld vs. screen scenarios, it was found that the real world andinteractive screen scenarios showed children retaininginformation to a much greater degree than the non-interactivescreen scenarios. This finding suggests that given the right elementsand circumstances, apps can be very powerful teaching tools.What advantages does app play offer a young child?The number one advantage is that through the use of apps, learningcan occur anywhere and everywhere. Many apps also requirechildren to use critical thinking skills, spatial reasoning skills and evensocial skills. There is no doubt that if a child plays an educationalgame, he or she will take something positive away from it.What disadvantages are related to app play?A recent study found that parents have on average 20 children’s appson their devices. If one gets boring, they can easily jump to anotherone. By doing so, a child may not be spending enough time on aneducationally beneficial app in order to learn from it. The otherdisadvantage is that this new medium of play is displacinganother activity that might be beneficial to the child: interacting withothers (parents and other children), creating crafts, getting physicalexercise.
Cupcake Digital, Inc. 860 Broadway, 3rd Floor, New York NY 10003 www.cupcakedigital.com If you were to offer parents guidelines for allowing their children toengage in app play, what would those be?• If you can get children tied into an educational app, ratherthan just an entertainment based app, then do so!• Play the app with your child. While app play is primarily asolitary activity it doesn’t have to be! Take turns and play withyour child. This way you are interacting with them whilelearning about their skill strengths and weaknesses. This willalso allow you to see when your child is just choosing anyresponse in order to get to the reward section. Some appshave multiplayer options so that if you have a second device,you can play too!• Limit the amount of time spent on any screen-relatedmedium. Young children need to create and experiencethings and benefit from real human-human interactions!What should parents/caregivers/educators look for in choosingapps for children?• Look at the educational claims made by an app company,and then check it out to see for yourself to see if you agree.• Read reviews from others who have used the app.• Check the app out on a review site to see how it is rankedwith others is in the same category.• See if the app offers features that create a personalizedlearning experience for children, meaning that the questionsget harder if they get the answers right, and get easier if theyget them wrong. This learning approach will help childrenfocus on the skills they need more work on and will help to
Cupcake Digital, Inc. 860 Broadway, 3rd Floor, New York NY 10003 www.cupcakedigital.com maintain their interest without frustrating them by getting toodifficult too quickly.• Apps also occasionally come with a summary that parents canreview to see the skills their children have mastered and theskills they still find to be difficult.• Look for apps that offer an incentive, such as a stickerpage, to complete the task and see how the storylinefinishes. Incentives can help children stay with the app longenough to learn the skills intended.• Play it with your child and ask yourself: Does your childunderstand the rules? Does he or she like it? Are they playingit or just trying to get the reward at the end by pushinganything? Is there a reward that feels exciting to your child?Summary of key findings:• The number one advantage of apps as a learning toolis that learning can occur anywhere and everywhere.• Apps have advantages over educational televisionprograms because a child with an app has totalcontrol.• Studies have shown that the real world and interactivescreen scenarios help children retain information to amuch greater degree than the non-interactive screenscenarios.• To teach skills, it is important to create apps withchildren in mind – apps that maintain their interest, sothese skills can be practiced.• By creating apps with solid educational structures,researching the effectiveness of the apps with young
Cupcake Digital, Inc. 860 Broadway, 3rd Floor, New York NY 10003 www.cupcakedigital.com children, and educating the public about the benefitsfound when using the apps, this method of learningcan become even more valuable.About Cupcake DigitalCupcake Digital, Inc. was established in June 2012 with theintent of transforming children’s entertainment properties intodeluxe story experiences infused with educationalelements. The company’s first venture into digitalapplications was based on the Emmy® Award-winningtelevision series “Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! ®” The Wubbzyapps released in 2012 have each been recognizedwith Parents Choice Classic, Fun Stuff Awards and havebeen consistently ranked among the top childrens bookapps on Amazon and iTunes. Headquartered in NYC,Cupcake Digital was founded by proven professionals in thefields of technology, family entertainment, publishing andbrand marketing. In October of 2012, Cupcake Digitalreceived its first round of private funding and has since goneon to partner with additional major childrens entertainmentproperties. For more information about Cupcake Digital Inc.,please contact Carmen Hernandez email@example.com or visit www.cupcakedigital.com.CupcakeDigital.com provides more ways for parents andcaregivers to enhance the app experience for kids. Free
Cupcake Digital, Inc. 860 Broadway, 3rd Floor, New York NY 10003 www.cupcakedigital.com downloadable activities encourage further practice of CCSSskills, including handwriting, sight words, number and letterrecognition. Plus, the site includes a Parent’s Guide forpractical tips to help children get ready for school.About Natascha Crandall, Ph. D. President of CrandallConsultingDr. Natascha Crandall is a psychologist and educator with a specialinterest in enhancing children’s growth and development through thepower of media. She is the founder of Crandall Consulting, LLC.Natascha has considerable experience in children’s media. Prior toforming Crandall Consulting, she assisted and directed the education,research, and outreach activities for a number of hit shows that haveaired on various networks including: Nickelodeon (Bubble Guppies,The Backyardigans, The Wonder Pets, LazyTown), Noggin (Oobi),Playhouse Disney (Go Baby), and CBeebies (Sesame Tree).Natascha received her Doctorate in School Psychology fromTeachers College, Columbia University. She also holds a Master’sdegree in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of Maryland,and a Bachelor’s degree in Developmental Psychology from thePennsylvania State University.As Crandall Consulting continues to grow its international arm,Natascha has gotten some exciting travel opportunities. While sheenjoys discovering new places and meeting new people, she has
Cupcake Digital, Inc. 860 Broadway, 3rd Floor, New York NY 10003 www.cupcakedigital.com realized that she is far from an expert traveler and is definitely moreof a homebody than she cares to admit.Although Natascha would say that she is a New Yorker at heart, thetruth is that she resides in New Jersey with her tech savvy husband,two media loving/addicted children, and one horrible, naughty, verybad cat.For more information please contact Crandall Consulting8 Martha Street, Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey 07677,firstname.lastname@example.org or visit:www.crandallconsulting.org