Kidloland Preschool App – A review

Oscar and I love technology. Always have. From as soon as he could grasp for it with his pudgy little baby hands, he wanted to play with my phone. And now I have an iPad he’s taken his love of app based entertainment to another level. I don’t have a problem with this. My son’s autism means he learns in a very visual way and I’ve found apps, of all kinds, to be thoroughly useful for him. From hand eye coordination to speech and vocabulary to problem solving and plain old having fun, we love apps in this house. So when I was approached by Kidloland to try out their app I was intrigued. Here was an app that wasn’t just songs or just games or just fun, it seemed to be a bit of everything. We couldn’t wait to try it out!

Kidloland is a app designed specifically for preschoolers and toddlers. It has over 500 Nursery Rhymes, Songs, Stories, Activities and Games, with no advertising what so ever. Advertising in apps for children is a bug bear of mine so I was pleased to find none here. It works on a subscription basis of 1, 6 or 12 months. We used to subscribe to BabyTV and that was just short cartoons. There is so much more to this.

The app

My first impression of the app, on downloading it from the iStore, was it was huge! There are just so many different parts to it! As always, when I download content for Oscar, I took a look around myself first and I’m so glad I did. I found each ‘pack’ needs to be downloaded to your device individually before using it. I’m glad I realised this before giving it to Oscar, as I know he’d have been frustrated had he not been able to access everything straight away. The downloading does take a little time, but fortunately there is a “download all” function for each pack. I did have an issue downloading one of the songs, but I remedied this by skipping that one and downloading it individually. I also told Kidloland about it and they gratefully handed the info over to the tech team so it may not be an issue any more.

The look of the app is bright and fun, with all original characters and animations.  I have all the packs in the app, but you can choose which ones to download. I love that, as it means you can concentrate on a particular theme if you prefer. It also allows you to control how much memory the app takes up, which if you download the whole thing is a lot! However, downloading it means you don’t need a signal (or wifi) to use it, which is a definite plus point for me!

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Just some of the packs available on the Kidloland app

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The content

It is split into sections you would expect such as stories, numbers, games etc. But I love that it also has other sections such as fruits and vegetables, months of the year and even a whole section devoted to dinosaur themed activities!

It even has a Dinosaur section!

It even has a Dinosaur section!

The pineapple song!

Fun with fruit!

Learning Letters!

Learning Letters!

I assumed Oscar would be drawn to the games and initially he was, but after a while I noticed he was playing more with the songs. The nursery rhymes are set to interactive animations. Touching the characters makes them move or do surprising little things, which he seemed to love! I just love the concentration in his face here. Getting video of Oscar is so hard, but I love that he’s so engrossed here he doesn’t even notice me!

Thoughts

Kidloland is well made, well thought out app, which keeps on expanding (I’ve had two more packs updated since we originally downloaded). Oscar starts school in a few weeks and some of the games were a little simple for him, but he still found things to enjoy and good fun to be had. I only wish we’d found this app a year or more ago! It would be a great learning app for younger toddlers.

There is so much do and chose from in Kidloland. Although your child is bound to find favourites, they’ll never be bored.

 

 

Thank you Kidloland for gifting us a 12 month subscription for the purposes of this review. As always I wasn’t paid to write this post and all opinions are my own.

You can download the app for iOS, Google Android and Amazon Android.

 

An Apple a day….

Until 2009, I lived, happily or not, without a smart phone. I didn’t have access to the internet at every given moment. I didn’t have the capability to take great quality photos and share them with friends (and strangers) at the drop of a hat. I didn’t have games, news, recipes, a calculator all carried in my pocket.

This isn’t a post about whether smart phones are a good or bad thing or whether they have had a positive or negative impact on living life today (my personal opinion is its a bit of both). I didn’t have this device until 5 years ago and I didn’t even have a phone to make calls with until 2000. I managed to bimble along. I survived. No, what this is about is about how my, yet to turn, 2 year old is obsessed and I mean obsessed with my iPhone.

For as long as he’s been able to reach for things, our iPhones have been a source of fascination for Oscar. When it first happened I just thought it was a fluke – he was reaching for everything right? But then it became clear the object he wanted to play with more than anything was a piece of technology – sod Sophie La Giraffe!! It took us a little while to realise this wasn’t because of what it was, but because it was the thing he saw us ‘play’ with the most and don’t all children just want to be like their parents? It started with chewing it (ewww!) and handling it. That was fine if gross. The problems started when he realised that a) just because we put it away, it didn’t stop existing and b) there was another world held within that tiny box!

My first mistake I guess was thinking this was cute. Oscar didn’t really watch much TV at the time and I was happy for him to occasionally watch YouTube clips on my phone. He was a Sesame St nut – mad for everything Elmo. So I downloaded an Elmo app. Elmo would Facetime my phone and Oscar would giggle at the calls, particularly at Elmo mooing like a cow! He thought it was immense fun and he could control that fun. Who wouldn’t want more of that?

But it was a slippery slope. I started downloading more (free) apps for him. I put them all in his own folder and before I knew it he could find them without any help from me. I even tried moving the folder around to see if he could actually recognise it or if he was just remembering the location. He found the apps he wanted every time.

I actually started to find his interest in the iPhone helpful. For one thing Oscar’s a runner, the iPhone keeps him safer. I could take him swimming on my own and get changed without him running off. But it’s also incredibly useful as a distraction technique. I could take him to the barbers and he’d sit (mostly) still while playing on my phone. We could go for meals and keep him amused until the food came. We started to be able to avoid boredom melt downs in public. Why wouldn’t I want more of that?

My problems with it started fairly recently. Now he wants it all the time. And when I don’t let him have it on demand, or take it off him, when I feel he no longer ‘needs’ it he freaks out. Proper screaming, body throwing tantrums. I’ve heard these referred to as iPaddys! And I don’t know what to do. Its so easy to cave when a supremely bored toddler is wreaking havoc in the bank, much to the disgusted looks and comments of the other customers (yep that was yesterdays joy!) You know the thing that will work, so you just do it, regardless of whether its the best thing for them. I’ve tried taking toys and books where ever we go, but they don’t have the same effect. Not on my son anyway.

I feel like the worst Turkey Twizzler feeding mummy every time I give it to him, but am I really harming him? Depends who you read. We hear a lot about how ‘screen time’ can be harmful, but research into smart devices, although in its infancy, shows that there is a marked difference between a TV screen and an iPhone screen. The difference seems to be primarily in the interactive nature of the apps. There’s an interesting blog post about it here if you’re interested. I am also of the opinion that technology now plays such an enormous part in our every day lives, beyond the box sat in the corner of the room, that children should be introduced to it. It will be part of their upbringing in a way it wasn’t in ours. That doesn’t make it wrong or bad. Its a fact.

But that doesn’t make it any easier to see him desperately and immediately happy when he gets his fix. His problem is not his, it’s mine. It’s how I became lazy, falling back on my iPhone in this part of my life like I do in every other part. How do I wean him off smart phone time if I have no desire to do it for myself? Its a serious question I’m going to have to ask myself if I want real answers.

I don’t think this is a ‘phase’. I don’t think he’s going to get bored of this just like he did with Captain Calamari or his other baby toys, because this keeps evolving, changing, showing that it can always be more. Its whats kept me hooked for the last 5 years, why wouldn’t it do the same to him?

Sometimes, when he’s freaking out, when he’s having an ‘iPaddy’, him using my phone is all I can think about. But my son loves other things too. He loves ‘reading’ books, he loves being sung and danced with, he loves any toy with wheels, his favourite foods include courgette and banana, his favourite words are Car and Mama, he loves being in the garden, he loves running, he loves any ball. He also just happens to love the iPhone.

How much he uses it, is up to me.

My love, with one of his loves

My love, with one of his loves