Surviving your spring break: Resources for finding the best road trip children apps

Soon schools will release their students for spring break and millions of families will be taking long trips. Before you go, load some top-rated mobile applications on your smartphone or tablet to keep your child entertained (and learning!).

Soon schools will release their students for spring break. Traveling by car is the most popular mode of transportation for leisure travelers according to the U.S. Travel Association. Millions of families across the country will be piling into the car for a road trip to a vacation destination, whether it’s a day-trip or a week-long visit to somewhere warm. Before you go, plan ahead and load some of these top-rated mobile applications on your smartphone or tablet to keep your child entertained on the long drive.

According to a 2012 survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, nearly half of American adults own a smartphone, which is a cellular phone capable of accessing the internet and running mobile applications. Similarly, nearly 20 percent of American adults now own a tablet computer, such as an Apple or Android device. New ways of using these devices are developed every day. As you prepare to hit the road for spring break, now is a great time to download new apps that can help keep your children entertained while driving – and maybe even help them continue to learn while on vacation!

Tablets and smartphones can be a great tool for keeping the peace on long car rides. However, it can be challenging to know what apps will be best for children and youth depending on their age and interest level. Wading through all of them can be daunting. Michigan State University Extension recommends Common Sense Media offers a great list of mobile applications that are sorted by age and rated not only in terms of their appropriateness, but also for their educational utility. For instance, they suggest apps that let preschoolers draw and sing with their favorite characters and interactive games for school-aged youth to learn about geography, practice spelling and write stories. While apps can be a great way to pass the time, be certain to take the opportunity to review an app before your child downloads it. Some apps can have content that is inappropriate for children, allows them to play games with strangers or might use advertising that parents don’t want their children to see. With a bit of planning ahead, the travel time to your spring break destination can be just as fun as the vacation itself!