Top 10 Apps For Your Mobile To Keep Your Kids Happy

As parents, we've all been there. As much as we love our kids, there are times when we just need a little peace and quiet. Maybe we're packing for a family trip, taking a business call, or just trying to make dinner. But there they are, our precious spawn, asking for juice, whining about being bored, break-dancing on the stairs, or trying to disassemble the toaster. So what to do to keep them occupied?

I'd like to tell you that I send my own brood off to read the Encyclopaedia Britannica or put together a 2,000-piece puzzle of the Millennium Falcon when I need some time to myself, but that would be disingenuous. Instead, I tend to grab my tablet or smartphone, hand it to them, and say, "Have at it, boys." Judge all you want, but a quick survey of other parents in my circle of family, friends, and co-workers finds that I am not alone.

The good news is that there is a plethora of apps out there for Android, iOS, and even Windows Phone platforms to keep our kids occupied without ruining their minds. Some are educational, while others can help with hand-eye coordination. Okay, the last one is a stretch, but the point is, there are apps for all ages that will keep our kids engaged during those times we parents need to get things done.

While Angry Birds is the game app of choice for most (kids and adults included), and there are always the iPlayer, SkyGo and Netflix apps for watching TV shows or movies, there are other fun choices available. We've put together 10 of our favourite smartphone and tablet apps for kids, in order of age level (starting with those for younger kids). Check them to find some new favourites for you and your children. Oh, and you're welcome.

Next: Fruit Ninja - Stack the Counties >

Fruit Ninja

£0.69 - £0.79

iPad, Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, Windows Phone

4 years old and up

Apples, bananas, and other assorted fruit feel your wrath in Halfbrick Studios' smash/slice 'em/dice 'em title. Using your device's touchpad to control the knife to slice fruit in half. Fruit Ninja's Zen Mode is a perfect game for little kids, as it lets you flick across various fruits to make entertaining slice graphics and squishing sounds without the peril of bombs in your way.

Androidify

Free

Android

4 years old and up

Yeah, sure, okay, there are a whole bunch of dress-up apps on Android. But Androidify is better, because it's not gender-specific, and it offers a truly wide range of hairstyles, colours and accessories. The blankness of the basic Android lets kids create families or fictional characters in a way that some of the more programmatic paper doll apps don't.

Dinosaur Chess

£1.49

iPad

4 years old and up

Dinosaurs and chess, what? Surprisingly, this engaging gaming app makes it work. By mastering certain chess skills, you will grow from a hatchling fresh from the egg to a huge dinosaur ready to take on the TRex. The action takes you through different parts of the dinosaur's world as you battle for domination. If your child is new to chess, this is a fun and effective primer.

Hidden Object Crossword (HOC)

£2.99

iPad

4 years old and up

A game that combines a hunt for hidden objects and crossword puzzles is all kinds of awesome. HOC is a game that kids can play by themselves or even with their parents. It's challenging because the hints are mostly riddles. Players fill in the blank to pop culture references, figure out proverbs, and decipher clever riddles.

Stack the Countries

£1.49

iPad, iPhone, iPod touch

4 years old and up Who knew learning about 193 countries could be fun? Apparently, Stack the Counties did. The quiz-show styled app helps your child learn such facts as country capitals, landmarks, geographic locations. With each correct answer, you earn a random country (each with a cute face), and the goal is to then build a stack of counties that reaches the checkered line to win each level. Your child will be quizzing you about a country's capital in no time.

Next: Jewels Deluxe - Marvel Comics >

Jewels Deluxe

Free

Android

5 years old and up

Match-three games in the Bejewelled style are pretty common on Android tablets, but our kids love this one for its unique features. Even smaller kids can scribble their fingers over the board quickly to gain points. It's pirate-themed, and the sounds and light shows are unusually appealing.

Drawing Pad

£1.27 - £1.49

iPad, Android

5 years old and up

This drawing app for both the iPad and Android devices has a wonderful "drawer full of pens" interface that's a lot easier to use than something like Sketchbook Pro. It's also much more elegant and powerful than some of the crude finger-painting apps out there. No learning curve here; kids will understand it quickly.

Temple Run

Free

iPad, iPhone, Android

9 years old and up

This action-packed game app revolves around several curious explorers attempting to steal an idol from a temple and being chased by demonic monkeys. By using the touch screen and tilting the device, players can turn, jump and slide to avoid obstacles, collect coins and buy power-ups, and unlock new characters.

LostWinds

£2.49

iPad, iPhone

9 years old and up

This app, a combination of combat, exploration, and puzzle solving, allows you to wield the powers of Enril the Wind Spirit to guide and protect Toku. Toku is the only one who can help you release the curse placed upon the enchanting world of Mistralis and its people by evil Balasar. You can use touch gestures to conjure up raging tornados and subtle winds.

Marvel Comics

Free

iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Android

12 years old and up

We're not just tech geeks here at PC Magazine; we're Comics geeks, too. And many of us have passed this passion onto our kids. The Marvel Comics app gives both generations a new way to enjoy Marvel superheroes and their adventures. It allows you to download digital versions of Marvel Comics issues and read them like you would a physical comic book (only you swipe to turn the pages).

  • Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
  • Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc.