TODAY   |  July 11, 2012

Fun tech for your toddlers and teens

Soleil Moon Frye, former “Punky Brewster” star and author of “Happy Chaos,” shares her favorite apps and gadgets for kids, including games that can help children read.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> this morning our get started today, technology for toddlers, tweens, and teens. so what are the must have approved gadgets and apps for the kids. mommy blogger and actress soleil moon frye , happy chaos. a loveable kid actress punky brewster .

>> good to see you. i love being here.

>> you're not only a mom of two gorgeous little girls bah blogger, 1.4 million twitter followers, 500,000 friends on facebook. so you know about this stuff. in a sense, some people think, especially for toddlers, maybe we're pushing technology a little too soon.

>> it's incredible. i really truly believe they are born with this dna. my 4-year-old can operate an ipad better than i can. the truth is technology is here to stay. so instead of running away from it, how can we embrace it and embrace educational apps and make sure it's safe and monitor it. human interaction is key.

>> 50% said they felt kids between 8 and 12 should be interacting with technology for two to four hours.

>> i think that can be on the long side actually. i think it's really important that we're monitoring what they are doing and that we still talk to our kids and communicate with them.

>> don't use it as a babysitter.

>> don't use it as a babysitter, don't sit them in front of something, make sure it's educational, something they are learning from.

>> let's start off with toddlers. some of your favorite tech apps for toddlers and gadgets.

>> my girls love this. they were playing with it on the plane. it's fantastic. they are reading with it. remember when we had simon says. it goes over the words with them. it's fun, interactive. they take this gadget, put it over the words. it's a great reading tool.

>> reading frog has been around a while.

>> absolutely, love it.

>> an app.

>> color in smart. this is so fun. my girls absolutely love it. you match the colors. match it here. make these incredible designs. it's also showing them classic, engaging, number games. the girls are loving to learn math on this and drawing all these beautiful pieces at the same time.

>> that's cute. let's move onto tweens. what is the good age you think, at least, for a cell phone . we didn't give our daughter, who is 13 now. she finally got hers last year.

>> i am so literally taking my time with when is the right time to get a cell phone . i really think it's important to monitor their cell phone use. this is great because it allows you the opportunity to really monitor what they are doing, the calls coming in, going out. this is a great device where you can be aware of what they are doing. my social community was adamant that being a teenager was important, really monitoring it. i don't want my kids texting all the time. how do we monitor and make sure they are using it for good. the other thing, using your old cell phone , making sure you're aware of what's on there, features on there. my niece uses it for photos, taking pictures, educational app.

>> for tweens you like fantastic books.

>> this one of the coolest apps. animation was incredible. it was inspired after katrina, wizard of oz . a great reading app, interactive. the graphics of mind blowing.

>> another app you like, stack the country.

>> geography is a big issue in this country and around the world. absolutely. it's also good for us parents. i was doing this with my girls and my girls were better at the geography than i was. stack the country is a really fun app. it allows you to stack the different places and also learn about geography at the same time, which is great.

>> that's pretty cool. i like for teens, the resource. especially a teen entering college, a company called cheg.

>> it's amazing. the opportunity to rent textbook, buy used and save so much money. at a time when we're already stressed with our kids going off to college and how it could break the bank , a fantastic as far as, chegg.com. i highly recommend it.

>> words with friends.

>> i love it. all ages. words with friends is so much fun. it's like scrabble in an app. it's so much fun. i have a blast playing with it. we have a great time.

>> can you play it on a plane, the runway?

>> all day long. also helps vocabulary.

>> always good to see you.

>> so good to see you.

>> for more information on this topic and the survey head