A lot or a little?
Parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that ConversationBuilderTeen is designed to help teens navigate conversations with their peers in many typical social situations. The app includes sensitive topics such as sex, drugs, and bullying; parental controls give you the option of removing these conversations. Teens who are on the autism spectrum often have trouble having conversations with peers and others; using this tool for practice helps them rehearse, learn from mistakes, and ultimately have successful multistep conversations within the format of more than 100 included scripts and more that parents or therapists can customize. Kids who can access a device with a touchscreen can be mostly independent while participating in the conversations. Kids who are blind or who have motor disabilities can still access this app with help in selecting the correct answer and recording. Kids who are nonverbal can select the correct choice; someone else or a communication device can provide a voice for them.
What's it about?
Teens practice conversations with virtual peers in typical social situations. Given a photo of a social setting, they pick one of three sentences that would be most appropriate socially, record it, listen to a response, and continue through the conversation in the same way with up to eight exchanges. When teens select the right answer, a green record button pops up under the photo, and the correct sentence is left alone above the photo. Teens record the sentence, then have the option of listening to their voice or going to the next set of sentences. Conversation topics include bullying, summer, entertainment, sports, sarcasm, relationships, and school.
Is it any good?
The modules in CONVERSATIONBUILDERTEEN are appealing and easy to use. The scenarios are typical conversations that occur in teen life, and the inclusion of topics such as sarcasm give kids guidance in what can be very tricky social situations. Kids interact with the device and with each other when it's used in a group, so there's more social learning going on than conversation alone. In addition to the built-in modules, you can set up customized conversations for teens. You'll make a list of the kids who will be practicing and note who will start the conversation. Then choose to use the app's stock photos or to import your own. Teens record their conversations -- there is no text. They can replay the conversation at any time. Parents or therapists will want to replay the conversation and help teens analyze whether it was successful and why.
There are a few downsides to the app. With some of the trickier topics, such as sarcasm and bullying, it's not always clear why the correct response is the best response, and teens may need an adult to help further explain. There are a few grammatical errors, and there could be more diversity in the included photos. Still, the app can be a good way for teens to practice conversations with peers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about some of the trickier topics, such as bullying and relationships. You may find that working through the modules with your teen is helpful because you'll be able to help clarify responses and offer additional context.
Practice conversations one-on-one with teens and then construct a similar conversation without the device to help generalize the skill.
- Device: iPad
- Subjects: Language & Reading: speaking
- Skills: Communication: asking questions, conveying messages effectively, friendship building, listening, speaking
- Price: $19.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Release date: May 13, 2013
- Category: Education
- Size: 411.00 MB
- Publisher: Mobile Education Store LLC
- Version: 1.5
- Minimum software requirements: iOS 5.1 or later
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