Apps that Support Communication Development by Empowering Parents
It's that time of year again... ASHA convention. As we head to Orlando, there will no doubt be a lot about screen time and technology. Apps can also help us and parents as together we work to facilitate high quality interactions around media and technology.
We use apps for a variety of purposes – to stream videos for entertainment, organize our finances, increase our productivity at work, write reports for school, help us communicate socially with friends and family, and create works of art, to name a few.
There’s a lot of discussion how technology and apps can disrupt quality interactions, possibly interfering with the acquisition of developmental milestones. But what about apps that help parents facilitate quality interactions needed to develop childhood milestones? Two new apps provide parents and professionals with important developmental information and models to accomplish just that.
Beginning with Babble
I heard about this app at the 2017 ASHA Convention from its developers (which big surprise are SLPs!). Here's what I love about this app... First and foremost, this free app is designed for parents and caregivers with the goal of facilitating face-to-face, play-based interactions filled with language-rich content!
In order to accomplish this goal, the app is parent-friendly from its initial set up to integrating activity reminders into daily life. Once the parent sets up the app (entering the child's name and age), the app sends users daily notifications. These notifications are age-appropriate communication activities for parents and caregivers, like the one pictured. Users can specify how many daily notifications they prefer, and based on user behavior, the app learns the best times to send notifications. The app also contains videos featuring real parents and children, modeling how these actives look and sound in the real world.
One feature important for an app of this nature is it doesn't eat into a user's data plan. WiFi access is only needed when the app needs to download the next developmental stage, perfect for families with limited internet access.
Here's what I love the most about this app. When the app notifies the user of developmental activities throughout the day, it has a very distinct notification sound. Some parents have reported that when their child hears this unique sound, they go retrieve the phone and hand it to their parent, knowing that a fun face-to-face activity is about to occur.
CDC's Milestone Tracker
Developer: Centers for Disease Control
The primary goal of this free app is to help parents and caregivers track a child's developmental milestones. More importantly, the app helps parents make informed decisions about when to be concerned if their child is failing to meet these milestones.
The app walks parents through a variety of developmental milestones involving speech, language, hearing, motor, social-emotional, and cognitive skills. Videos or photo examples are included for each skill to help parents see the skill in action. As the parent moves through each specific skill for a particular age, it is easy to document the child's progress marking, "yes", "not yet", or "not sure." There is also room for the user to jot down any notes about a particular skill. As the child progresses, it is easy to review and edit previously documented skills.
If a parent is concerned about their child's development, the tracker helps the parent document critical developmental skills for a particular age group. In this section the user can add additional notes creating an organized summary of results to share with the child's doctor, either via email or at their next visit.
Speaking of visits, the tracker includes
an appointments tab where upcoming appointments can be added. Like the rest of the app, there is room in the appointments tab to add questions or concerns that one might want to address at the appointment.
Parents with young children have a lot to keep track of. The CDC Milestone Tracker provides an easily accessible tool for parents to keep track of early milestone development and the questions or concerns that they may have. However, as noted in the app, this app does not provide a substitute for professional consultation or evaluation.
Note: This post is for informational purposes only and
does not constitute a product endorsement.