Love it or loathe it, screen time has quite a role to play in our children’s lives in this digital age. How many times have we heard our parents say ‘back in our day…’ and not realise that we have now turned into the same parents who utter the same phrase? Well, back in our day, we didn’t have tablets, computers and smartphones. We had about 1 hour a day of children’s television and the closest thing I had to a screen was a Speak and Spell (which incidentally was a fantastic toy!)
Sensible screen time
Used sensibly, (there are no UK government guidelines, but the American Academy of Pediatrics – AAP recommend no more than 1 hour of screen time a day for pre-school children. Source: The Telegraph), screen time can benefit a child educationally. It can also provide them with some entertainment for a bit of down-time. It also affords you a bit of time to catch up with those necessary household tasks! But how do we ensure that the screen time we allow our children is both educational and safe? Well, as the phrase goes, ‘there’s an app for that’ – and that app is called Hopster TV.
Hopster (also known as Hopster TV) is a subscription app available on IOS and Android aimed at pre-school children aged 2-6. It is designed to make screen time ‘smart’ to help children learn and also provide a safe environment for children to enjoy. It also has the bonus of being ad-free. (No more tantrums for having to sit through an advert!). It is currently available in 4 languages – English (UK), English (US), French and Icelandic.
Getting started with Hopster
We were lucky enough to be given the chance to try out Hopster with our toddler daughter. To sign up, I visited the Hopster website where I entered several details. New customers have the option of signing up for a 7 day free trial before subscribing, which is perfect for working out if the app is for you. Happy Family Hub are pleased to be able to offer our readers an extended 1 month trial period (see our special link at the end of this blog for details). You can select whether to sign up for a monthly, quarterly or yearly subscription. The best value subscription (annual) currently works out as £3.67 per month (prices correct as of October 2018) which is equivalent to buying a children’s magazine. Once subscribed, you are entitled to unlimited streaming and downloads and you can cancel at anytime.
Designed with education in mind
Hopster base their app around children’s learning and have developed their own ‘Discovery Learning Map’ based on early childhood curricula from around the world. This means that content ticks the relevant boxes:
- Finding out … All about me, my friends & family
- Exploring … The world around me
- Understanding … My healthy body and mind
- Expressing myself … Through the arts
- Communicating through … Language and literacy
- Thinking about … Numbers and solving puzzles
Hopster have over 1500 hand-picked shows in the Hopster volcano. These can also be downloaded for off-line use. There are many different types of shows to pick, including favourites such as Ben & Holly’s Magic Kingdom, The Gruffalo, Thomas The Tank Engine, Pingu and seasonal programming (Halloween, Christmas etc). Little C has mostly been entertaining herself with Ben & Holly and that entertaining Nanny Plum. (She has started referring me though as Nanny Plum which is rather worrying, still I guess there’s worse things to be called!)
There are a great selection of educational games in the games balloon to help your child improve their literacy, numeracy and communication skills. My child enjoys the game ‘Monster Match’ which is a shape matching game with a cute character. It is very entertaining yet also help her learn and problem-solve.
Your child can use Hopster Create to use drawing and painting tools or snap photos in the photo booth. This has been one of Little C’s favourite sections, I have often found her masterpieces hanging on the ‘virtual washing line’ to dry. Best of all, your child can ‘paint’ this way during car journeys and it’s totally mess-free!
This is a cute little section where children can grow their own plants. Your child plants the seeds and then makes sure they get enough sunshine and rain to help them grow.
I find that this is a great interactive activity as both parent and child can have fun singing along with one of the many tunes available in the music flower, from nursery rhyme classics to more modern children’s songs.
If you want to find new stories, you can head along to the book boat on the Hopster app with may beautifully illustrated books available to download. Some are e-books to read and some are video books to listen to. The book boat contains a range of books with different themes – we have enjoyed books about emotions, vehicles, dinosaurs and even the human body.
The app is incredibly easy for little people to use. Navigation is colourful with simple graphics and menu. There is also a friendly voice which tells your child what section she is on, and even gives hints on which button to press if they are unsure. Easy navigation gives the child confidence to explore and it also means less parental ‘fixing’. As content is also vetted and hand-selected, parents can be confident that what your child is watching is educational, entertaining and appropriate for their age.
Where can I find out more?
You can find out more by visiting the Hopster TV website or by searching for ‘Hopster TV’ on the IOS app store (Apple) or Google Play (Android). You can also now find Hopster on Amazon Fire Tablets and the Amazon Fire TV Stick. It is one of the best apps that we have found so far for our little one. An absolutely lush addition to our collection of apps! It’s an educational dream and is safe from ads or unsuitable content for young eyes. Everyone’s a winner with Hopster!
Happy Family Hub are happy to offer their readers a 1 month free trial to Hopster! To take advantage of this offer, please register using this link which will give you a special voucher code.
(This is a collaborative post, however all views and opinions in this review are my own. #ad)