Most millennial parents grew up in an age where there wasn’t ‘an app for everything’. The art of storytelling—both as patient listeners and weavers of imagined tomes—was the principal form of entertainment. These real and imagined stories made children premature content creators, exclusively for family and close friends. Unfortunately, now children’s imaginations are locked in a tussle with social media, leaving no scope for independent and creative thinking.
To address this problem, a few enterprising individuals have launched story-based learning apps or websites. “Our intention is to nurture the imagination and creativity of kids to enable them to share anything they’d like. We’re also attempting to foster a community where kids across the country connect with and encourage each other to create stories,” explains Aditya Jaishankar, Founder of Voxbox. Jaishankar first forayed into this space in September last year with MaPa Story, an app that encouraged kids to record stories in their own voice and share them with anyone, anywhere in the world. Based on the principles of Japanese karaoke, users could look at the visual and read the text accompanying it.
With time, his team noticed that children were becoming increasingly confident in expressing themselves. This led to the idea of Voxbox, set to launch in July, to provide an even larger canvas for expression. “Kids choose a topic from any of the categories—ideas, thoughts, experiences and stories— and speak for a few minutes on that topic. This is recorded on our app and the child becomes a content creator instantaneously,” he adds.
Another innovative method of engagement for children was devised by GetLitt!, through a ‘Virtual Museum Hunt’. This social community platform and app gives children access to a curated library of e-books from over 25 globally acclaimed children’s publishers, for a subscription fee. Their team recently organised the first in a series of online interactive sessions in the Dr Bhau Daji Lad Museum in Mumbai. Says Richa Sethi, CEO of GetLitt!, “India has a rich history and we want children to actively gain knowledge of it. The Virtual Museum Hunt series is a way to have children and their parents engage with museum collections and stories in an exciting and rewarding way.”
Registered participants explored the museum through the Google Arts and Culture website and deciphered clues to ‘hunt’ for highlighted objects and stories, enhancing their knowledge and sharing what they already knew with other participants. Apart from this series, the GetLitt! App also encourages content creation from children by way of book reviews, and will soon offer publication services for books written by children. Being published at a young age boosts confidence.
Realising the potential of this, HeyCloudy, a screen-free audio listening and learning app for children, partnered with passionate environmentalist Parnika, who is all of seven. Together, they have launched the ‘Stars of Mother Nature’ campaign where they are inviting stories penned by children on the theme of saving the environment. The best ones will be picked for an audio series on the HeyCloudy App. Chitman Kaur, CEO of HeyCloudy, sums it up, “Video-content is fast-paced and leaves nothing to the imagination. We want children to slow down and listen, as that is the best creative tool.”
How to access
MaPa Story App
Download on Google Play
Subscription fee: Rs 365/year or Rs 100/month
Launching in July
Accessed through their website www.getlitt.co.
Download the app on iPad through App Store or on tablets through Google Play.
Subscription fee: Rs 300/month for library access
Available on App Store and Google Play.
Subscription fee: Rs 129/month