Children’s Technology Review is a monthly PDF newsletter — modeled in the spirit of Consumer Reports — designed to summarize products and trends in children’s interactive media. There is no advertising content.
COST: $30/year for 12 PDF issues (each about 20 pages long) sent by email the first week of each month. A three-hole-drilled laser printed version (used by research libraries) is available for $120/year (US) and includes a three-ring binder. The print option for Canada and Mexico is $144/year (please note this option no longer includes the binder due shipping costs and postal restrictions). Each issue contains approximately 50 new children’s interactive media products deemed to be significant to the children’s interactive space. These include apps, technology toys, web sites and services, facebook plugins, video games or platforms. Subscriptions include access to an online database, and back issues dating back to 2005 in PDF format. Visit the Subscription Form for more information.
WHO IS CTR? WHAT IS YOUR MOTIVE? Originally a Master’s thesis, Children’s Technology Review was created by Warren Buckleitner in 1993, after ten years of research at the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation that resulted in a systematic evaluation system for evaluating children’s software. There was a need to better understand the expanding world of children’s software (at that time, there were 40 new titles — per year!) As of 2011, the database contained 13,000 products; over 10,000 reviewed. Newer software and games are tested and archived at the non-profit Mediatech Foundation in Flemington New Jersey. Older titles have been archived at the Strong Museum of Play.
DO YOU EVER GIVE ‘BAD’ RATINGS?
The idea is to try to bring some science to the process of “bad and good.” CTR’s instrument is designed to broadly measure five factors that apply to most children’s interactive media experiences: ease of use; educational value; entertainment value; design features; and overall value. Global variables strongly influence the ratings in each of these factors, especially child control, “smart” features (like the ability to adapt to a child or expand in complexity), respecting a child’s time, say by making it easy to save work or progress, and so on. In general, products that talk too much or trap a child in an activity get lower ratings.
WHAT ABOUT VIOLENCE, ETHNIC AND GENDER BIAS AND COMMERCIALISM
We attempt to objectively describe content and business practices. For video game reviews, we list ESRB ratings and descriptors, which we have found to be both reliable and valid; but on occasion we add an editorial additional note. The best way to understand CTR is to have a look at some past issues.
WHAT IS THE ‘DUST OR MAGIC‘ INSTITUTE?
We host a meeting each year in Lambertville, NJ to review the year, which is attended by other reviewers and researchers. We find this is a useful way to ground our ratings, and hear what other people are saying about children’s interactive media. Dust or Magic started in 2000, and takes place in Lambertville, NJ. See www.dustormagic.com for more information.
DO YOU GIVE AWARDS & SEALS?
Yes, but not for money. Creators of products that score well on our instrument (in general 80% or better) are sent a letter giving the right to call their product a CTR “Editor’s Choice”, and display our logo. Obviously this is good advertising for us, and some publishers link back to our site or the review; but publishers are not asked to do so, and have no obligation to do so. No money ever changes hands related to seals, quotes or ratings. In addition, we cooperate with the annual Consumer Electronic’s Show (CES) and Living in Digital Times to manage the KAPi (Kids at Play Interactive) award program. We are not involved in booth sales or “pay to speak” arrangements that are common at such events.
ARE YOU NON-PROFIT OR FOR PROFIT?
CTR is published by Active Learning Associates, Inc., an employee owned, for-profit corporation. Mediatech is a non-profit, 501 c 3 organization managed by a board of trustees.
I HAVE FURTHER QUESTIONS
Feel free to give us a call or visit. Mediatech is at 118 Main Street, 2nd Floor, and CTR’s offices are next door in downtown Flemington, NJ. We are committed to serving children, and our paid subscribers, by providing accurate, timely reviews that are easy to read, and free of hype.
Warren Buckleitner, Editor
Children’s Technology Review
|Warren Buckleitner is the Editor and Founder of Children’s Technology Review. After five years in the classroom and 10 years at the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, he established Children’s Software Revue, earning him SIIA’s First Journalism Codie Award for “Best Software Reviewer.” He has been an adviser to Consumer Reports WebWatch, a judge for AEP’s Golden Lamp awards, and has taught at MSU, NYU’s ITP program and the Rutgers Graduate School of Education. He is a contributor to the New York Times Gadgetwise blog, and writes for Parents, Scholastic Parent & Child and others. A former preschool and elementary school teacher, he holds a BS in Elementary Education (cum laude), an MS in human development and a Ph.D. in educational psychology from Michigan State University. Warren is the founder of the Dust or Magic Institute and the Mediatech Foundation. He has two teenage daughters and plays in a Dixieland jazz band. More at Warren’s media links page.|
|Chris Crowell is a nationally recognized educator who has taught kindergarten full time for the past 17 years in Flemington, New Jersey. During his more than 20 years in education, Chris has also taught high school students and adult education programs. Combining his passion for child development and community involvement with the advances in technology, Chris has recently partnered with Warren Buckleitner to establish Multi-Touch Learning (MTL). Prior to creating MTL Chris joined the staff of Children’s Technology Reviewas an Associate Editor, where he reviews educational apps and other forms of technology.
Chris has been a member of federal, state, and local curriculum development teams. He has attained local, national, and international recognition for his work in education including being honored in 2004 by the US Department of Education Teacher to Teacher Initiative in Washington, DC. Chris is a sought after presenter on numerous educational topics who has been featured on multiple media outlets including the CBS Early Show, NJN Public Television, and national newspapers and radio programs. Along with earning his Masters in early childhood education from The College of New Jersey and his Bachelors in communications from Seton Hall University, Chris has completed post graduate work at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey focusing on inclusive education. Chris is a Geraldine R. Dodge Fellowship Recipient, certified Rutgers Family Science instructor, national and state licensed soccer coach, and currently serves as vice president of Mediatech Foundation, a non-profit community technology organization established to provide technology access to Hunterdon County residents while fostering creativity, learning, and socialization. Chris’ goal through MTL is to provide training and support to teachers and schools seeking to effectively implement technology into classrooms. His belief is that advances in technology have reached the point in which it can allow teachers the freedom and flexibility to best serve the needs of the students and utilize and develop their own professional expertise.
|Megan Billitti is CTR’s Office Manager and Coordinator for the Dust or Magic Institute. She holds a BS in Recreation Therapy from Arizona State University. Megan is the mother of two sons, who help us all better understand the world of children’s interactive media. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
|Lisa DellaFave is CTR’s Editorial Coordinator and Copy Editor, as well as the Circulation Manager. She holds a BS in Marketing and Psychology from Kean College of New Jersey. Lisa is the proud parent of two teenage sons, who play every type of game console. Contact email@example.com.|
|Bobbie Nester coordinates the LittleClickers website for CTR, found at www.littleclickers.com. She holds a BS in Journalism and Broadcast Communications with a minor concentration in Public Relations from Bradley University. She is the proud parent of two teenage daughters.
|Ben Kates is a Freshman at Temple University who enjoys reviewing games, writing, and editing video with tools in Final Cut Studio. He’s worked as a summer intern at CTR for many years. See Ben’s work at http://www.youtube.com/brenekates or follow his tweets at http://www.twitter.com/ben_kates.|
CTR contributors are required to disclose and potential conflicts of interests. These are published in a bio box, along with the editorial they contribute. All reviews and articles contain the name of the author.
|Scott Traylor is the President and co-founder of 360KID, a Boston-area based software design studio and research company. Besides contributing editorial segments to CTR, he helps capture events and product previews on CTR’s YouTube Channel. Scott does not cover products in which CTR feels there could be a conflict of interest. He has taught at Harvard University Extension School, Graduate Instructor of Computer Science (1995 – 2006) and has a BA in Graphic Design from Rochester Institute of Technology.AFFILIATIONS (as of July 2012)
Association of Educational Publishers (AEP)
Association of Computing Machinery (ACM – with a focus on CHI-KIDS)
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art
International Interactive Communications Society (IICS)
International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)
Little Airplane Academy
Massachusetts Interactive Media Council (MIMC)
Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange (MITX)
Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD)
Vistage (formerly TEC International)
Women in Children’s Media (WiCM)
Women in Toys (WIT)
Option 1 Electronic only. 12 issues in PDF format via email, a password providing full access to the review database with over 10,000 archived reviews, plus a library of back issues, and reviews back to 1993. The cost is $30/year
Option 2: Print and electronic. Designed for libraries and professionals, this feature includes Option 1, plus a hard copy mailed by first class mail each month. You also receive a binder for storing your issues, and an annual reference index. The cost is $120/year for U.S. subscribers and $144/year for Canada & Mexico. This option is not available internationally.
Children’s Technology Review is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
You are welcome to quote segments as long as you provide credit. You are not permitted to copy review conclusions or ratings and use them for published commercial work. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://childrenstech.com.