Coloring books have a timeless attraction for children, and often for adults as well. Those simple black line drawings are presented on pulpy paper, ready for budding Picassos and Monets to imbue with vibrant color. With the Easy Color app, kids can enjoy coloring books on your iPad (also iPhone and iPod Touch). A few simple finger swipes, and the colorless puppy turns brown. Touch the arrow, and get a new picture (a bird, a zebra, etc.). Designed for kids younger than three, the app has no menus, no internet connection requirement, and no choices. Easy.
Except, as a parent, I also see a down-side. Putting crayon to paper is already easy, made more complicated by this technological barrier. It may be the shape of things to come, but we should not forget that the simple acts of selecting a color, holding the crayon, and applying its color to paper are all developmentally important for toddlers. The Easy Color app may subdue fussy kids in line at the grocery store, but it should not be used to replace the all-important classic coloring book and crayons.
I would rate this app higher if it were scalable. Kids as young as, say, 12 months could start with the current, basic level – seeing color “magically” appear on screen at their touch teaches an important cause/effect relationship for that age. To give the app longer relevance for toddlers, developers could add in higher-level thinking features such as color selection, patterns, and even virtual stickers. Such critical thinking is currently a part of physical crayon coloring. Besides, the pre-school set is usually savvy about navigating basic game menus and should be able to adapt easily. My four-year-old is the family champion at Fruit Ninja.
And of course remember that toddlers are usually sticky and rough with their toys. When you do hand over your beloved iPad to Junior, make sure it has a screen protector and durable case.