Yes, It’s a great app but…- applying Positive Pedagogy
Multisensory experience and an appropriate level of interactivity really matter when it comes to apps for kids. What also matters, but is often overlooked is how the app caters for children’s social-emotional development. The app may be great even outstanding for its graphics, sound effects and the overall concept and children may really enjoy playing it which may be immediately observed when you run beta tests. However, there are certain things that may be difficult to notice straight away which will be revealed later as they affect children’s emotional world and produce long-lasting effects.
To help you get the point we picked an app that is outstanding when it comes to multi-sensory experience but which unfortunately has some pedagogy issues that for us affect the overall rating.
Amelia by OhNoo Studio is an app with extraordinary quality of sound effects and graphics. The authors demonstrate the understanding of children´s curiosity and attention to details. As for this writing, this interactive book is one of the best of its kind we have tried so far when it comes to graphics, design and special effects – a real multisensory experience. The application is great for ages 5-10 as there are lots of details on each page to tap, discover, peek into, open up and look for which will appeal to child´s senses and imagination. Also, the sound effects are amazing, especially the amusing frog game that allows children to use their creativity and experiment with sounds. Our 7-year-old son loves all the bugs that crawl through pages and when tapped they wiggle and make funny sounds in a bug language. With parental guidance children can be easily prompted to use their imagination to come up with the ideas what the bugs may actually say. Fabulous special effects such as tapping to break the glass, the torch game in the dark or Whine´s green lantern – make for added fun factor. The experience of shattering glass is so realistic that it can potentially give a child a sense of an energy release in a safe context. The light free version gave a sense of real satisfaction with the product and made us convinced that buying the full version would be a good decision.
Points to improve:
When you look at this application with adults´ eyes there seems to be nothing to improve. This extraordinary interactive book for children, however, has it all to be qualified as a thriller book. The authors built suspense using gloomy scenery and messages that reach child´s subconsciousness easily and powerfully as it was in the case of our son. The wood at night hides a frightening secret – a horrific creature that steals animals´ souls. And the tension, not necessarily the creature itself, works really well. And this is what we find unfortunate for children here. While using the application you may not be afraid at once but when the night time comes you can be scared to death. Our son having read the story only once and in daylight burst into tears late at night, and he didn’t know why. But he was sure about one thing – that it was because of the book. It may be because the authors may have subliminally and probably unintentionally induced fear – the unnecessary fear of things that do not exist in the real word. Subliminally – because a child is so occupied with tapping and all the exciting details of the book that they don’t really pay attention to the text and the story itself. So when the night comes “the terror of the night” as the book title says comes to life with its all power. This fear has a potential to stay with a child for longer, which is a real pity because the book represents a good piece of work. We do think that this application would be amazingly attractive without this added element of terror.
Even though the characters demonstrate bravery and care for friendship, the element of the induced fear is likely to dominate the after-reading experience, especially in case of young children, which is something you may want to consider when making your decision whether or not to get this application for your children.