That’s why Kiko Labs created Thinking Time, an app for the iPhone and iPad that’s designed to help kids train their brains while playing along with a series of colorful games. Much like other brain-training apps before it, Thinking Time offers users a number of different activities that are each designed to tackle a different skill set: memory, reasoning, mental flexibility and impulse control.
It’s all drawn up with kid-friendly cartoonish graphics, and the activities are all led by smiling animal companions. When Thinking Time is first opened, the game asks parents to enter their kid’s age, and the difficulty of each activity scales with a child’s age. That way, a 10-year-old won’t be bored out of their mind, and a 5-year-old won’t be in over their head.
Each activity consists of a short minigame like pattern matching, which are perfect for filling small spaces of time, like waiting for a seat at a restaurant, or can get chained together into a longer session.
The app also provides a number of tools for parents, most notably analytics about how their child is doing within the app. That way, they won’t need to watch over their kid’s shoulder to see how well they’re doing. In addition, the analytics provide direct feedback with which to compare their kid’s performance from week to week. Thinking Time also collects data from users so that parents can see how their child compares against kids their age.
Thinking Time should also help kids get better at the activities they’re training. The app is developed with developmental neuroscience researchers at Harvard and Berkeley, and is based on research that shows cognitive skills can be taught.
The one hitch in Thinking Time’s plan is the problem of getting a child engaged with the app. GeekWire’s Todd Bishop has found that his 3-year-old daughter, who’s “pretty tech savvy,” complete the know-how to play Angry Birds, needed to be lead through the experience of using the app. Older kids might be able to more innately understand what’s being asked of them, though.
Still, if you’re looking for a way to hand your iOS device to a kid without feeling bad about giving them more screen time, Thinking Time can help.
Thinking Time is available from the iOS App Store for $4.99.
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