The Joan Ganz Cooney Center and The New America Foundation have just released a new study called “Getting a Read on the App Stores: A Market Scan and Analysis of Literacy Apps.” The study examines 183 popular language and literacy apps for kids from three popular markets: Amazon, the Google Play Store, and the iTunes App Store. They specifically focused on apps that had made it into “Top 50” lists (both paid and free) on these platforms, or apps that had recently won critical acclaim from expert websites. (The study began in 2014, but the report was only just released.)
Here are just a few of the things they learned:
The same app isn’t often recommended by multiple sources. The study found that only 17% of apps were simultaneously listed in a Top 50 list and received a positive review from an expert. So, if two parents are looking for apps at the same time but on different websites, they probably won’t both wind up purchasing the same game. Further, apps recommended by experts tend to cost $1–$2 more than apps in Top 50 paid app lists.
App descriptions are inconsistent in length. App descriptions varied in length from 13 words to 1,089 words. Free apps tended to have the fewest number of words on average. Of course, parents rely on these descriptions when deciding whether or not to purchase an app.
Apps for preschoolers outnumber apps for other ages under 8. The study was specifically examining apps for children ages 0 to 8, but it found that only 40% of the apps gave specific indication of what age or developmental stage would be appropriate for their app. Of that number, 90% included preschool-age children as at least part of their target audience.