By Tracey Dowdy
Has the phrase “Don’t believe everything you read” ever been truer than it is today? I don’t think so. Whether it’s a post gone viral about the life saving power of coconut oil or a spiteful comment on an Instagram photo, the power of words is as great, if not greater, than ever.
The amount of information available online is staggering and many people lack the judgement to determine what’s fact and what’s fiction. My friend Todd is a university professor and the number of students that cite Wikipedia articles as their source material falls somewhere between disappointing and frightening.
As parents raising 21st century kids, we need to start teaching critical thinking skills from an early age. Not only will this help our children to discern fact from fiction online, but these skills will transfer to real-life situations and enable them to problem solve in all areas of their lives.
The following apps teach critical thinking skills from a number of different approaches:
Busy Shapes is far more than an app designed to recognize shapes and name them, it teaches spatial relations and how the shapes relate to one another and the space around them. The focus isn’t on rote memorization – toddlers must use early critical thinking skills to manipulate shapes and move them through puzzles. Play difficulty increases at each level and moves quickly to keep kids engaged.
Clockwork Brain is a series of brain-building puzzles aimed at improving cognitive abilities in six specific areas: memory, perception, language, logic, reflexes and calculation. Games are fast-paced to keep kids engaged and, because play is fun and energetic, kids will want to play often creating a habit of daily brain-training.
Platform: iOS, Kindle Fire
Price: Free download, in-app purchases
Winky Think Logic Puzzles
Winky Think Logic Puzzles is a series of games and challenges that provide kids with problem solving, logic, memory, eye-hand coordination and other skills. With over 180 puzzles that gradually increase in difficulty, kids will develop their logic and reasoning skills and, because no reading is required, games are user-friendly for kids as young as six.
Brain Jump Pro
Brain Jump Pro was developed by teachers and neuroscientists to show kids our brains can get stronger by constantly challenging them. Ned the Neuron will guide kids through three different games with 54 different levels of challenges that develop concentration and memory skills. Plus, the app includes a Brain Science section that parents and kids can explore together.
Platform: iOS, Android, Kindle Fire
Brainbean challenges kids through puzzles, memory and other educational games. Each game intuitively adapts to match users’ creative capabilities and offers a fun challenge to build confidence, test memory, improve resourcefulness, and boost critical thinking. Because challenges are designed to stretch cognitive and creative skills, no matter what learning style works best for your child there’s bound to be a game or puzzle that stimulates their brain and ultimately improves their critical thinking skills.
Apps are merely a tool and nothing works better than making those critical thinking skills part of everyday life. Teach your kids to be critical thinkers with what they see, make sure they check their source, and remember, if something appears too good to be true, it very likely is. As Abraham Lincoln might have said, “Don’t believe everything you read on the internet!”
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.