Four parents, 8 children, and endless battles over screen time. So just why would we create an app?

 

Developing Australia’s first educational gaming app

From the outset, we’re going to be honest. Parenting isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.

It’s hard – for any parent. Between us we have 8 kids, but irrespective of numbers, the challenges we face are the same. And since the introduction of digital, we’ve found ourselves parenting in a completely different universe to the one we were raised in.

Technology offers incredible benefits, but those benefits bring pressures that we’d never have envisioned.

And while our children know nothing except this world of automation, immediacy and devices, as parents we’re still reconciling how we feel about it all.

Using our parenting powers for good

Regardless of how each of us feel about them, devices are here to stay. Digital is becoming more commonplace across everything we do, from banking and shopping through to education, socialising and entertainment. Love it or loathe it, it’s something we need to manage proactively.

We learned this with our kids. Just because this generation has advanced digital literacy skills – a logical result of today’s technology-obsessed world – it doesn’t mean that their soft skills have developed at the same pace. While digital engagement requires technical knowledge, it also requires self-control, time management, self-responsibility, and even an understanding of choice and consequence – all of which take years to develop.

So we asked ourselves – in a time of instant gratification, how patient will they really be? Will they be able to exercise self-restraint and responsibility around their screen time? Will they choose to use it for good?

It highlighted just how critical our role was in helping them to use technology wisely as there is a place for devices. After all, we had kids with plenty of downtime to fill while waiting for their siblings to finish school or sports. And it wasn’t always easy or practical to do homework while they were sitting in the car.

Thinking it through, we sought a solution that would satisfy not only their digital desires, but also our parental concerns (not to mention that nagging feeling of guilt).

We searched high and low (hello, screen time), but there were none to be found.

So we set about creating it ourselves.

 

If it wasn’t a win-win for parents AND kids, it was a loser

So – we’re two mums with 8 children between us. Conceptually, we knew the outcome we wanted to achieve. But practically? We’re specialists in smart home programming and interior design – what did we know about technology development?

Nada. But as mums, we were focused on the big picture. Devices are here to stay, so we wanted our kids’ screen time to provide cognitive benefits, not just be something they passively consume without a second thought.

But as we know, kids will be kids. We knew that for them to actively engage, whatever we came up with required their buy-in.

What could we create that would appeal to them and meet our (responsible parenting) goals?

 

Combining relevant learning with truly engaging gameplay

It was an ah-ha moment – World Wise is Australia’s first app that combines education with gaming.

Kids journey around the world – driving cool cars, racing friends and learning (via multiple-choice questions) as they go. They become so absorbed in the game, they don’t realise that they’re inadvertently gaining a deeper understanding of English, science, math, geography and general knowledge, all targeted to their specific learning level. 

How it works

THE EDUCATION COMPONENT

To progress, players must correctly answer multiple choice questions (we’ve worked with education specialists to align them to the Australian education curriculum). There are over 15,000 questions, and we’ve catered for everyone from Kindergarten to Year 9.

It also supports what’s known as ‘progressive learning’ – depending on your child’s answers, they’ll be either upgraded to the next level or stay at their current level. This ensures the learning caters to their individual abilities, keeping them engaged and motivated.

 

THE GAMING COMPONENT

Kids can play solo or via dual player mode.

After answering a round of questions, they compete in a race car. As they progress, the app takes them to landmarks around the world. They also travel to checkpoints, collecting tokens to upgrade their cars (yep, no buying upgrades – they need to earn them!).

The goal? To simultaneously entertain and educate, striking a much-needed balance in our technology-filled world.

 

As parents, we love that…

  • It provides an opportunity for beneficial device play, with multiple-choice questions linked to their progression through the game
  • It’s a one-off, all-inclusive payment on purchase (there’s no risk of kids nagging for car upgrades or you turning instantly grey from bill shock)
  • A single purchase caters for the entire family – you can install it on multiple devices (as long as they’re all linked to the account you purchased the app on) and create multiple player accounts


Our kids love…

  • The flexibility of playing solo or dual player
  • The challenging nature of problem-solving
  • The competitiveness of the racing
  • The motivation to earn upgrades (not to mention the creativity of applying them to their vehicles)
  • That it’s an even playing field, with dual player mode ensuring players participate at their own level, but together

PS A note on the guilt component

We didn’t create World Wise to make a million dollars or encourage kids to spend hour after hour on devices. We created it to fill a gap that we needed for our own children.

Why? We recognised that:

  1. Technology is here to stay.
  2. Devices are part of our children’s world.
  3. We need to work with our children to manage consumption and engagement, supporting them to develop the skills they need to accompany advanced digital literacy.

World Wise lets us do that together. The kids get to enjoy gaming, while the learning component helps alleviate those nagging feelings of guilt inherent to parenting.

 

Do you fight with the kids over digital?

You’re not alone – we’re fought plenty a battle. It’s where World Wise came from – we wanted our children to be active drivers of their digital consumption, not passive recipients.

What are your thoughts and struggles? Please share them – we’d love to open an honest dialogue to hear your ideas and offer support where we can.

Author bio

We’re Julie Samus and Tanya Alexander, co-founders and creators of the World Wise App. With 8 children between us, we’ve lived the mayhem of juggling multiple extra-curricular activities. We’ve also felt the guilt as waiting siblings became passive users of technology to pass the time. 

So we created World Wise, transforming that passive consumption into active engagement.

And while progressive learning makes it suitable for kindergarten to (roughly) Year 9 students, the gaming platform means big kids love it, too.

It’s a game changer – literally.