Educational applications are not useful for children, study results

Many parents use educational apps to help children. However, a recent study determined that very few apps provide high-quality learning experiences for children.

Boy on iPad with an educational app

As parents, we want to make sure that our children learn and develop appropriately. Unfortunately, we’re also busy, so we’re looking for ways for our kids to learn independently – and educational apps often seem like the perfect solution to that.

However, a recent study has determined that very few apps provide a high-quality learning experience for children.

Related: 10 apps to help your child learn how to read

Research study recently published in Chidden and Media Magazine, in some of the most popular educational apps that can be downloaded to determine if it actually shows “educational”. To do this, the researchers developed a specific system of four criteria based on the four pillars of learning to measure the effectiveness of each learning application studied. These criteria included: active learning, participation in the learning process, purposeful learning, and social interaction.


Overall, the research team found that the majority of “educational apps” on the market scored low on providing an actual learning experience for kids. This proves to be especially true of the free apps, which have the lowest scores across the board.

credit: shutterstock

In an interview with Phys.org, study co-author Jennifer Zusch of Penn State University said parents should be aware that these educational apps do not guarantee much learning for children, and screen time does not replace necessary human interaction. According to Zoch, Just because the App Store lists an app as ‘educational’, it doesn’t mean that the app creator actually tested the app or even designed it using educational best practices..


Instead, Zusch says parents should consider playing these educational apps with their children and having a conversation while playing. By asking children what is happening while playing, pointing to the ways in which the game or app relates to real life, and carefully examining apps before downloading them, parents can successfully integrate educational apps with traditional learning strategies.

Nearly 98 percent of children aged eight and under have some type of mobile device available to them at home. Unfortunately, a large number of apps available for these devices are now categorized as educational to accumulate more downloads – even if they don’t actually have any educational value. In many cases, parents may choose these apps over other educational activities due to their ease of use without realizing that these apps are not a suitable alternative.


The research team for this study hope that the data they found will help parents make better informed decisions when it comes to their children’s education and free time. They also hope that app developers will use this data to realize that changes are needed to educational apps to make them more effective and useful for children.

Read next: Home appliances distract kids more than we’d like, study says

Resources: Chidden and Media Magazine, Phys.org, Commonsense Media

The study was conducted for the first time to find out how children face their peers
The study was first conducted to find out how children “confront” their peers

The study found that children from rural areas used more verbal protest than children from urban areas.

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