Today we are excited to feature Shoshana Stopek of Mommy Tech Bytes for the Oceanhouse Media Blogger Spotlight. A media professional, author, and mommy to 4-year-old Sasha, Shoshana shares some insightful thoughts about kids apps and parenting below!
Oceanhouse Media (OM): When did you launch Mommy Tech Bytes? What was the inspiration behind it?
Shoshana Stopek (SS): I launched www.mommytechbytes.com in December 2012 – when my daughter turned 3. I had been using educational and storybook apps with my daughter for several months and found a great deal of value in how they supported her early learning development. I wanted to share that experience with other parents and help them find apps and technology they might enjoy using with their children.
I was also inspired by the knowledge I had gained from creating content for kids for many years at Warner Bros. Global Publishing. Technology is a tremendous resource for parents and children, but the marketplace is flooded with digital content and that can be overwhelming. My hope was to develop a user-friendly site where I could curate and recommend apps geared towards the younger audience.
OM: What is the mission or goal of your site?
SS: The main goal of Mommy Tech Bytes is to help parents incorporate the best of technology into their children’s lives in a healthy, positive and meaningful way. My site features app reviews and giveaways, interviews with experts in the media industry, and some of my own tech parenting insights and curated content recommendations.
OM: How do you think technology has made parenting easier?
SS: Really interesting question! I don’t know if technology has made parenting easier or just different. I think technology has empowered parents with new ways to educate, entertain, and engage kids.
Social media has also provided parents with online communities where they can ask questions (at all hours of the night), make friends online with other parents, and follow parenting blogs. In this way, technology has united parents in an interconnected support system that didn’t exist before. That’s pretty cool!
OM: What is your favorite thing about being a parent in the technology age?
SS: At the moment, my favorite thing is trying out new apps with my daughter. We have a lot of fun together! I also love to watch her navigate devices and apps on her own. It’s amazing to me how quickly she is able to teach herself new skill sets.
OM: What are your daughter’s favorite apps right now?
SS: My daughter has become a very proficient hairdresser and creative concert conductor, thanks to the folks at Toca Boca. She’s also worked her way up the levels on Bugs and Bubbles, a game that reinforces early math skills, fine motor skills and STEM-oriented thinking. She also loves Oceanhouse Media’s Dr. Seuss Learning Library, which is a super fun way to learn new science concepts. Here’s a short list of her current faves:
Toca Boca Hair Salon
Toca Boca Band (she loves “Cello Guy”)
Bugs & Bubbles
Ariel Numbers & Counting
Dr. Pet Play (encourages pretend play)
Barbie Fashionistas Endless Closet
Play & Learn with Wallace
Dr. Seuss Clam-I-Am!
Another Monster at the End of this Book
Curious George: The Perfect Carrot
OM: What are the most important features you look for when choosing kids’ apps?
SS: One of the most important things I look for in a kids’ app is whether the content is engaging and exciting to kids. I think about how concepts are presented and whether kids will want to return to the app again and again.
Depending on the app, here are some questions I may consider when choosing a quality kids’ app:
UI – is the user interface well-designed with user friendly navigation?
Graphics – are the graphics / artwork appealing to the child’s eye? Do they enhance the story content?
Is the content engaging – will the child return to the app after one play?
Educational value – what is the child learning and how are concepts presented?
Added value – does the app include interactivities such as stickers, coloring, puzzles, etc.?
Reward motivation – what is motivating the child if there’s educational content (sticker rewards, verbal motivation)
Are activities age-appropriate, or are they too easy or too hard?
OM: Do you think apps have revolutionized education?
SS: Absolutely! Apps have made education more accessible in and out of the classroom. Apps have melded the learning of technology with curriculum found at every grade level. In addition, apps have made learning more fun and interactive for children. I’ve seen this first-hand with my daughter.
Educational apps allow students to take their learning home with them, making the classroom more accessible than ever. When you add interactive technology found in many classrooms, such as the Smart Board, it is easy to see how technology has shaped a new era of education. I’m excited to see how apps will continue to make a difference in education as technology evolves.
OM: What are some of your favorite tech parenting sites?
SS: I follow various tech parenting sites to get different perspectives in the industry, and I really admire the hard work that all bloggers put into their content. Here are a few of my favorites:
www.coolmomtech.com – perfect mix of lifestyle and tech parenting
www.commonsensemedia.org – awesome nonprofit organization that reviews kids’ media across all platforms for parents using a ratings system based on age appropriateness and learning potential
www.theappyladies.com – amazing special needs-focused tech parenting site
www.teacherswithapps.com – app and tech-in-the-classroom recommendations from two tech-savvy teachers
www.theimums.com – great app and tech product reviews and giveaways (UK-based)
www.blog.momswithapps.com – thoughtful articles for parents and app makers from the brilliant Lorraine Akemann, Co-founder of Moms with Apps and App Friday
www.appsplayground.com – excellent roundups of apps by device and age group (UK-based, led by journalist Stuart Dredge)
OM: Who is the most tech-savvy person in your house?
SS: I swear I’m not trying to toot my own horn when I say that, at the moment, it’s me. But, both my husband and I read a lot and we embrace technology in our home. And, at the pace my daughter is learning, we are definitely going to stay on our toes! Just the other day, I paused while playing with a new app and my daughter said, “Mom, you have to click the back arrow.” I thought that was really awesome.
Thank you very much for participating in our Blogger Spotlight, Shoshana!