There are some great apps out there for kids this Halloween. They make great gifts, provide lots of fun and also offer educational focus for younger children. We’ve put together a list of what we think are some of the most entertaining and accessible apps – but watch out, make sure the spooks don’t get you.
With Halloween just a few days away, apps for kids are a perfect amusement for the season of ghouls, spooks and ethereal misfits. Some of the apps below are only suitable for specific age groups, such as Dark Meadow, and we’ve pointed out the best age range. And most of the apps, though not all, are also available for different operating systems such as Android and iOS.
This is a monster version of the well known (by children) Fruit Ninja. Players swipe their fingers across the screen to slice monsters that are tossed into the air. It’s not a violent game, though it may sound like it. There’s no blood or gore, it’s simply a game of fun and speed. Suitable for all age ranges including granny and granddad.
This runner game, similar to the mega popular Temple Run and Skyline Skaters, but with a supernatural them hooks players by getting them to guide young vampire prince away from an angry mob. Though there is an implication of violence in the crowd chasing him, all the player sees when the prince is caught are puffs of smoke as the prince disappears in the mob. Another one that fits all age ranges.
Plants vs Zombies
This is a defence strategy game that contains some violence but in a comedy manner. For example, players pinch the heads off zombies or electrocute them with a finger as they attempt to defend their house from a zombie attack. Be warned though, as engaging, silly and fun as the game is, it does contain in-app purchases so make sure your credit card details are tucked away safely. A player doesn’t need to make the purchases they can navigate their way through the game levels with patience. More suited for nine and over.
A funny, engaging and mash up horror app that allows user to manipulate photos to transform pictures of family and friends into hideous and scary zombies, witches, vampires, werewolves and demons. High-quality effects create realistic pictures. As a result, it’s not suitable for young children, as it could be quite scary. The iTunes store lists it as suitable for 17 and upwards, but children being children and probably already well familiar with spooky stuff, we’d say an age range of 14 upwards is more practical.
Go Away, Big Green Monster
Definitely one for the younger child, age three and upwards, this is an interactive version of a children's book written by Ed Emberley. In the book, the scary features of a monster are layered on one by one and then the same features are taken away one by one to show how monsters are created and aren’t really frightening. The app goes a bit further by showing the complete monster again at the end and revealing him to be more silly than frightening.
Another app for younger children. Spooky Letters lets children trace capital, lower case and cursive letters. The app also features games and activities that help children review basic phonics sounds, all with a Halloween theme. The letters are engaging and attractive and the design is simple and colourful, perfect for young minds.
The Little Witch at School
This is a ‘story’ app but also much more than a story. It includes fun games, interactive scenes, and illustrations that will attract children of all ages. It’s a nice combination of education and entertainment and has a high quality feel to it. The in-app games add a balance to the more educational activities and children are also able to find a special surprise at the end of the app if they complete four challenges.
Room on the Broom Games
This app is based on the book of the same name, which was also created by the author of the well-known Gruffalo. It’s not specifically Halloween themed but given that the central character is a witch, it includes all the ingredients for a Halloween app. It’s entertaining and allows young children to practice spelling as they steer a magical broomstick through the sky. It also includes much more and is definitely one for younger children already familiar with the book.
iPoe - The Interactive and Illustrated Edgar Allen Poe Collection
For older children who love reading horror stories this is a bit of a classic. It accurately captures the mystery and horror of Poe's tales, such as ‘The Tell-Tale Heart,’ and the background music is decidedly spooky. It takes what is essentially in today’s terms an archaic form of writing, though compelling, and makes it more accessible to children while retaining the original language. Also includes interactive animations.
This is an action-horror game that uses a powerful graphics engines making it realistic. It’s full of violent battles with various demons that spit poison and slash at the player with their talons. Players fight back with a crossbow, sword, and other weapons in bloody fights. The app lets players take a shortcut to acquiring better weapons by offering in-app purchases but this isn’t essential. Definitely an app for the 16 and upwards age bracket.
A Word of Warning
Some of the apps described above, and many others not mentioned at all, provide features that let users post their gaming scores on either a social gaming platform or on social media networks like Facebook. It’s a way for the app creators to generate greater awareness of their product and attract more users which in turn will result in more in-app purchases.
However, these postings can also alert predatory types who use all sorts of tricks to ensnare potential victims, such as creating gaming profiles and pretending they are someone other than who they really are. It’s an old trick in the online world but one which is very much in widespread usage and one which the British spy agency GCHQ recently admitted to devoting much resource to in order to stop predators and paedophiles.
While all parents would surely love to have GCHQ close to hand to keep an eye on the online meanderings of their children they can actually use parental controls to watch over them from a distance. Parental controls flag up potential predators and can check and block inappropriate content, limit access to the internet and enforce restrictions on specific websites. Parental controls can also be used across mobile devices so while kids can continue to have fun with apps, parents can continue to safeguard them.