Expat children go mobile!
Not sure how to get to your destination? There’s an app for that. Fancy ordering a takeaway? There’s an app for that too. Want to keep on top of your finances? Well don’t you know it, there’s an app for that as well.
In fact, nowadays there’s an app for pretty much everything. But when there are so many to choose from know which ones are the best can be tricky.
To make the selection process that little bit easier we’ve put together a guide detailing the most useful apps for expat kids, whether you want to help them learn, keep them safe or connect them with home.
[Note from Carole – where possible, I’ve included the links to the main websites so you can choose which is most compatible for your device. All can be found on iTunes though!]
Help them Learn
Although children pick up new languages more rapidly than adults, some can find learning how to speak in a foreign tongue a chore. There are dozens of apps aimed at making learning languages easier and more fun, but some are better suited to children than others. Here’s our pick of some of the best.
This app is currently available in over seven languages, including German, French and Spanish. Through the use of visual flashcards your child can learn over 500 common words and phrases. Audio clips from native speakers also ensure that their pronunciation is word perfect.
A fantastic free app which uses engaging exercises (like word jumbles) to make learning foreign grammar and vocabulary enjoyable. As it’s mainly text based it’s more suitable for older children, but the quizzes included in the app offer a great way for parents and children to learn together.
Okay, this app might not be the most sophisticated, and it isn’t a typical language app, but it sure is fun. Your child can use this app to record themselves saying foreign words and phrases and then have them repeated back in ‘high squeaky’ and ‘low freaky’ voices. A great way of learning words/basic phrases and making your child giggle at the same time.
Keep them Safe
Smart ICE ($0.99)
The ICE (or In Case of Emergency app) is so useful it should be installed on the phones of all expat children. With this app you can store all of your child’s vital information, including name, address, emergency contacts, medical conditions, allergies etc – invaluable for ensuring your child gets the help they need in an emergency situation.
Sygic Family (Free)
This handy app allows you to subtly keep tabs on your children by letting you know the location and battery levels of their smart phones. With this app you can even designate areas as ‘safe’ or ‘unsafe’ and you’ll receive an alert whenever your children enter or leave those zones. An additional feature of this app is the SOS button which sends out the user’s exact location when pressed.
Google Maps (Free)
Few expat parents feel comfortable letting their children/teenagers loose in unfamiliar surroundings, but it wouldn’t be practical (or popular) to stay together all of the time. With Google Maps you can make sure that your children know where they’re going, have a safe route to follow and know how to get home. Using it abroad can be costly as you’ll need to download data relevant to your location, but peace of mind is priceless!
Help them to stay connected to home
Moving abroad can be a real upheaval for children, and often the thing they find most difficult is being away from friends and loved ones. The Skype app makes it easier to navigate time differences by letting you keep in touch on the go. Bear in mind however, although tapping into wifi is cost free, using this app away from a wifi connection will cause a big surge in data usage!
Scribble Lite (Free)
This app is brilliant for helping your child engage with their new surroundings and keeping their loved ones back home up to date with what they’ve been up to. Scribble Lite turns smart phones into a mini sketch pads so children can draw aspects of their new home and instantly send their masterpieces to friends and relatives. Particularly good for keeping the grandparents happy!