I’ll be honest, I’m more a book and board games kinda mom and even though I’ve tried my best to get my tech-loving kids hooked on these more classical pursuits, all I did was earn myself the nickname of ‘stone age mother’.

Since I work at a tech start-up, I decided to investigate the possibility that tech is not all bad in spite of the countless articles warning parents to be vigilant and not to let their kids roam freely with connected devices (read more about digital addiction).

I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s not all doom and gloom. As long as parents are savvy about the whole thing and they’re not just using devices as digital pacifiers or babysitters. (We all do that from time to time!)

It turns out that tech can actually be a great tool to keep young minds stimulated – and not just busy – especially during the school holidays. And that’s what interests me; the enabling side of tech. How can we make it work for us?

One of the things tech does really well is to gamify learning. And seeing that children learn through playing, “the right games can actually be used to improve existing skills or teach them new ones” as Juanli Theron from parenting forum Die Naguilklub confirms. Tech also enables kids to get creative, have fun with friends & family and explore the world around them. With this in mind, here are some cool tech enabled activities for the holiday:

1.  Connect

Tech offers a great way to stay connected with friends and family through social media platforms that are basically “wish you were here” postcards on steroids. But how about gathering the family and trying out games like Out of the Loop, Kahoot! (for those who are more competitive), or Draw Something (a virtual kind of Pictionary). These are fun ways to build relationships and have a few laughs together.

2. Create

Why not take your kids’ colouring to the next level with Quiver Vision’s 3D augmented reality app? Or let them try their hand at editing the drone video footage of the town you’re exploring with Magisto? They can blog about your holiday on Tumblr or learn to code and create their own games with apps like Scratch or Tynker.

3.  Explore

Don’t let the learning stop. Research and exploring don’t have to be limited to the school term. Learn about the places you visit, the people who live there & the languages they speak with cool apps like The Culture Trip or Drops. And don’t forget about the ever-popular Geocaching – it’s sure to turn your road tripping moaners into a merry band of treasure hunters.

4.  Learn

Among the myriad of mindless games in the virtual stratosphere, there are also those that are both useful and fun like Wordful Hexa. Or try Rivet (mentioned by mommy blogger Rattleandmum) which encourages reading for little ones in a clever, playful way. Although the name isn’t all that exciting, freereadingtest.com is a great way to speed up that reading while expanding general knowledge at the same time.

OK, so maybe I’m a tad idealistic, but if tech can be used to get kids learning without them even realising, and if interaction with the digital world is balanced and enabling, then this ‘stone age mother’ gives her stamp of approval. Push play and let the holidays begin!

Retha Venter is the content manager at Ctrl and mother of three pre-teens.  

Please let us know what your favourite apps for kids are. The Ctrl app makes short-term insurance as easy as child’s play.

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