Mobile Apps and Kids, or Plus ça change?*25 Dec 2013, Posted by kids' media, Mobile App Development in
ust when I was beginning to feel that mobile apps have truly changed the way kids learn and play, a former colleague who hasn’t worked in the learning space for years gave me pause to reflect.
We were catching up when she mentioned she’d been contacted to write a script for a fun learning app for a major developer. She added that she was not up to date with technology and didn’t know if she could do it. I sent her a list of popular apps and told her to take a look. To my surprise, she called me in a few days and said, “My word, these are no different from the products I wrote for you years ago for CD-i.”
For those of you who don’t know (probably a lot of you) CD-i was a technology launched by Philips NV years ago and was the first appliance that delivered interactivity via a television screen. Essentially, it was the first set-top box.
Fact is, the best interactive products still follow the same basic guidelines as they always did, so I shouldn’t have been surprised.
CD-i featured learning discs from CTW (the first use of a sparkling effect to indicate a clickable), the Smithsonian (the first virtual tour of a museum), Scholastic (the first interactive product just for girls) and more. And yes, some of the products were quite similar to what we now see on mobile platforms. But keep in mind, I sent her a list of the best mobile apps for kids. Fact is, the best interactive products still follow the same basic guidelines as they always did, so I shouldn’t have been surprised.
I’ve been involved with wonderful products for kids for a long time (and yes, I do say so myself). In the weeks to come I plan to share my thoughts about children’s tech products with you—be they educational, just-for-fun, mobile, web-based, toy, whatever. Please join me in exploring where we’ve been, where we came from, and what we might hope to achieve.
*When I showed her this blog post, that same friend told me that she didn’t recognize the plus ca change reference. Then I asked my significant other and he didn’t either. So, for those of you who find it unfamiliar, it is an excerpt of the epigram, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, which means, the more things change, the more they remain the same.