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★★★ Open House ★★★
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CTR Weekly 5/22/2019
Unpacking the term "Screen Time" plus Ovivio; LeapBuilders and Tongo Circus

"As children grow into adolescents, thinking about healthy — and unhealthy — internet behavior requires nuanced and highly specific understanding by researchers; it’s not just about the total amount of screen time." Perri Klass, M.D. https://nyti.ms/2QjflLN

Does your skin crawl when you hear an expert making generalized "screen time" recommendations? Me too. That's why I made a video called "What is a Screen" https://youtu.be/a7sw3fQCLOg six years ago. I'm not alone in my desire for specificity. Dubit researcher David Kleeman likes the Rubiks Cube metaphor for the concept.

There are some signs of progress.

Besides Perri Klass' deeper look into "screen addiction" in yesterday's New York Times (the header reads "think of screens as something to handle in moderation, like food, rather than something without any healthy place in our lives, like heroin" https://nyti.ms/2QjflLN there was also an article on the Wired website with the title "A Food Pyramid for Kids' Media Consumption" by Daniel Ramirez Perez, at http://bitly.com/2QeISq0

Perez writes "Researchers are beginning to study screen-based media in all its forms, instead of just lumping everything together like they used to. Some types of screen fare are like sugar: Limit consumption, especially before bedtime, and watch for signs of overindulgence—obesity, aggression, grade slippage. Others are more like proteins and veggies: Make sure kids get a balanced diet that includes exercise, IRL socializing, snoozing, and yes, screens."

You'll find delightful visual and musical surprises in Tongo Circus, below. And if you have an older child in need of a challenge, try Ovivo. It was one of the entries this year's BolognaRagazzi Digital award and we finally had a closer look. Both are reviewed, below.

Starting tomorrow, you'll be able to make your own characters in Toca Life: World. As you might expect from Toca Boca, there is no "default" skin or hair color, or age; and prosthetics are easily includable. A free version that will appear in a new location called Creator's Campus that you'll see when you update your Toca Life: World app. The paid version has more stuff, and will cost $4.99 as an IAP.

Leapfrog, http://www.leapfrog.com, ($10 to $40), for ages 1 to 5.

A block-based building platform with electronic elements that create sounds and lights designed to reinforce early reading and math concepts. The blocks are not compatible with other types of blocks, like Duplo. Included in each set is a Smart Star the plays 40 sounds. The 60+ piece set has the makings of a house (windows, doors, flower blocks and so on). Not much is left to the imagination. In fact the entire experience feels noisy... this could easily be one of these playsets where parents wish for dead batteries. Content includes requests to find specific blocks to hear three songs and three melodies. Powered by two AAA batteries. Prices start at $10. The ABC Smart House costs $40. Release date Fall 2019.

Video Link: https://youtu.be/i7CIBNHcpe8

CTREX Link: https://reviews.childrenstech.com/ctr/fullreview.php?id=20082

Izhard, http://ovivogame.com/, ($.99 on iPad https://www.youtube.com/redirect?event=video_description&v=UsaFCsvXz44&q=https%3A%2F%2Fitunes.apple.com%2Fapp%2Fid1185071881&redir_token=w_QrGMzEeLLVycjLQ2sPoss1LTJ8MTU0OTg0OTE3MUAxNTQ5NzYyNzcx), for ages 9-up.

Challenging and rich with logical thinking problem solving, this maze game for iOS and Steam asks you to move a tiny balloon between two gravity fields (up and down). Each field is represented by black or white. Getting to your goal requires a good sense of timing, as you jump and float your way toward the next level while avoiding obstacles that could pop your balloon. Settings let you adjust the music and switch between finger controls and tilting. There is an underlying story that deals with "the journey to simplicity." Created by Alex Vilassak. Discovered in the 2019 BolognaRagazzi Digital Award.

CTREX Link: https://reviews.childrenstech.com/ctr/fullreview.php?id=20024

Tongo Circus
Firstconcert Productions GmbH, http://www.firstconcert.com, ($2.99 on iPad https://itunes.apple.com/app/id1455017057), for ages 2-8.

A musical busy box that with beautiful art, music and graphics. The main drawback is a lack of direct connection between your finger motion or tap, and the screen events. This blurs feelings of control which is essential for the intended age range.

You start in a simple, well illustrated circus scene that scrolls left or right. Tapping on one of 11 areas lets you interact with a scene, simply by tapping. These include Tongo's magic hat, making a lion jump through a ring, moving dancers, and so on. The app includes 15 minutes of music by Johann Sebastian Bach, Georges Bizet, Johannes Brahms, Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka, Charles Gounod, Edvard Grieg, Joseph Haydn, Modest Mussorgsky, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Nikolai A. Rimsky-Korsakov, Johann Strauss and Pyotr I. Tchaikovsky. The music comes from the classic label NAXOS. This app is a delight for both your eyes and your ears. We wish it were more responsive, however.

Video Link: https://youtu.be/gDcPKGmEh5Q

CTREX Link: https://reviews.childrenstech.com/ctr/fullreview.php?id=20086

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