Closing the App Gap I: Quick Tips on Using Apps in Libraries

Click here for a PDF version of this page.


Why Apps?

  • Diagram showing the difference in app use between lower income and higher income children. "Only 22% of lower-income children have spent time on a smartphone, iPod, or tablet for playing games or using apps compared to 55% of higher-income children."Appeal to kids of a variety of learning styles and abilities
  • Access to important technologies for kids who don’t have it at home
  • New media can appeal to kids when their interest in books flags
  • Opportunities for productive (and fun!) interaction and cooperation between kids
  • Opportunities for multi-level programming to parents and children
  • Positioning of librarian as greatly needed mentor for tech use with kids
  • Great draw for the library!

Click here for an additional bibliography of scholarly and practitioner articles on app and tablet use with young people.

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First, catch your apps!

1. Choose your app review sources.

Resources for App Reviews:

2. Choose your selection criteria

Some common criteria:
developmental appropriateness
meaningful content
integration of features
quality of audio
clarity of navigation

Our criteria: 
ease of use
child interest
age-appropriateness
levels of difficulty
customization of settings
feedback/corrective features
accuracy of content
appeals to learning objectives
diversity of representation

Other possible considerations: 
themes of intended programming
patron interest and requests
local/curricular relevance

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Then, use them!

Tips:

  • Kids love interacting with one another while they’re using apps
  • Kids enjoy adult approval and acknowledgement of achievement (high fives go a long way!)
  • The more interactive the app, the longer kids stay with it
  • Allow for kids’ varied interests, experiences, and preferences
  • Children progress quickly from novice to expert when using a well-designed app
  • Headphones can minimize disruption with noisy apps (and splitters can allow multiple users to share a single tablet)
  • The best results come with apps that provide clear play, respond overtly to users and give feedback for interactions, offer clear objectives, and contain limited distractions

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Resources

Additional resources on app use with youth:

Click here for more information about the Closing the App Gap IMLS-funded research and planning grant behind these suggestions.

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