Tag Team Tech: Wrestling with Teens and Technology February 2015
Best Apps for Teens, Winter 2015
With a hint of winter’s demise in the air, it’s time to freshen up your mobile device. Clean out all those memory-hogging apps you never use, and try some new ones on for size. While you’re at it, check out the #onescreen hashtag on Twitter, to see how educators are paring down their apps to just one screen’s worth.
Personally, my current favorites are the new Scratch IOS app, SimCity Build It, and Yoga Star. Let’s take a look at nine apps that offer fun, functionality, and creative outlets–all things perfect for teens.
(Windows, Android, and IOS. Free.)
Create a personalized magazine with the content in which you’re interested. The app boasts tens of thousands of topics to build a magazine around, everything from jazz to philosophy. Students can use the app to curate content for school or just keep up on the topics that interest them. It’s easy to use and easy to share magazines with others, and a bookmarklet allows you to grab content as you go.
Create beats with sixteen pads and a keyboard, sampling and remixing music straight from iTunes or recording on the fly. You can create, mix, share, and export your creations into other apps, like Garage Band and Sound Cloud. The sound library gives you access to hundreds of samples, and you can buy more with an expansion pack. Super fun, and a great way to be creative on the go.
(IOS. $9.99 and $2.99.)
These two apps, by Readdle (they are available, along with Printer Pro, in a $14.99 bundle in the App Store), are great for mobile productivity. Use PDF Expert to annotate and edit PDFs–you can sign them, highlight them, draw, add notes, and share them with others, In addition, you can use the app to manage all your files from Dropbox and Google Drive. Scanner Pro turns your device into a scanner, allowing you to scan documents into PDFs and then share via Dropbox, Google Drive, Evernote, and more. You can use Scanner Pro to store any paper documents you have, from theater tickets to coupons to receipts.
Do Ink’s robust, simple Green Screen app is perfect for movie making in any setting. Users have access to both a library of doodles and powerful vector tools to create original drawings both simple and complex. The drag-and-drop technology makes it easy to create sophisticated animations, and those animations can be exported to YouTube and other video sharing sites. Do Ink’s cute video tutorial shows you the basics.
One of Adobe’s many apps, this one is fairly astounding. Users record their voices and then choose from over 25,000 images and icons to turn their recorded story into a video (or users can use their own original images). The app does nearly all the work, walking you through the steps of recording your voice, adding an image, and then adding pages to the story. Change the theme, the layout, and the music to change the feel of the video. The finished product is a polished, professional-looking video that can be shared on Facebook, Twitter, via email, or to your device’s camera roll. There are templates, too, things like “explain something” or “promote an idea.”
(IOS, Android. Free.)
Your device becomes a time capsule, for better or for worse! Timehop connects your social networks–Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and more–and shares, daily, the updates that you posted on this date in the past, as far back as you’ve had those accounts. You can then re-share those images and updates. A new feature allows you to post the time capsule photo alongside a current one, to show how much things have changed.
(IOS, Android. Free.)
Collect all your favorite podcasts in one place, organize them into playlists, and discover new podcasts through Stitcher’s recommendations, based on those to which you are already listening. Your playlists can be customized by subject, or you can choose from pre-set playlists selected by Sticher’s editors.
Oh, how I wish this app was available for IOS. RescueTime helps you stay on task by tracking your usage of mobile apps, sending you a report of your activity. (Uh oh.) You can set goals and alerts, so the app will let you know when you’ve reached your Candy Crush limit. And, if you have a productive day, you get a gold star. RescueTime can also be installed on a computer, so you can block distractions on multiple devices.
Sarah Ludwig is the dean of Digital & Library Services at The Ethel Walker School in Simsbury, CT. She comes to this position having managed two independent school libraries (Wilbraham & Monson and Hamden Hall Country Day), as well as multiple departments at the award-winning Darien Library. ABC-CLIO published Sarah’s book, Starting from Scratch: Building a Teen Library Program, in June 2011. In 2010, Ludwig was selected as an American Library Association Emerging Leader. She is an instructor for Simmons College’s continuing education program and speaks locally and nationally on topics such as promoting reading, digital and information literacy, and integrating library skills into the curriculum.