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PBS Sprout makes iPhone apps for preschoolers

PBS Kids Sprout teams with the New Wave Entertainment studio to make iPhone apps for kids and parents on the go.

Look, Chica is now all dressed up and ready to dance! Dong Ngo/CNET

If you think getting your teenage or preteen kid an iPhone will spoil them, you are right. It sure will! But if you have a preschooler, there's now a good excuse to spoil yourself with one.

An excuse of possible better parenting, that is.

PBS Kids Sprout, the on-demand TV channel and online service for kids ages 2-5 and their parents, announced Thursday its two iPhone applications for preschoolers on the go, called Sprout Player and Dress Chica. These applications are the result of the collaboration between PBS Kids Sprout and New Wave Entertainment studio.

The Sprout Player is a video player application that streams 3- to 4-minute Sprout shows. The player offers simple audio instructions voiced by Kelly Vrooman, one of the hosts of Sprout's "Sunny Side Up Show" that airs every weekday morning.

The Player also includes an area where parents can view Sprout's programming schedule for upcoming events.

The Dress Chica application, on the other hand, is an extension of a popular online game currently featured on Sprout Online's Web site. The iPhone app allows you to touch and drag items of clothing onto Chica, the bird mascot of Sprout, to get her dressed.

Kids can also do other things with the application, such as shake the phone to make Chica dance, save the picture, add a greeting, and e-mail it to friends and family.

Both applications are available now and can be downloaded for free at Apple's App Store. I tried the game on my iPhone 3G and it was actually fun and could be addictive. So, before you download, make sure you let your kids use the iPhone with discipline. Otherwise, they might grow up more comfortable spending time with electronics and tiny screens than, say, hanging out with real people.