Families

App review: ‘What’s in The Oceans?’: Fun, subtle lessons make this a great pick for Earth Day

Parents need to know that "What's in The Oceans?" is an open-ended play space where kids can watch a variety of ocean life in different settings. Kids can choose from five ocean ecosystems, each with its own endless set of plants and animals to drop and drag in to the water. Different things happen depending on what animals kids select, including predator animals chomping up prey and releasing some red clouds of "blood." There are some ocean lessons for kids to learn, such as the effects of climate change, over-fishing, and pollution. But the lessons are very subtle and kids will likely need significant involvement from their parents to make any meaningful connections. The settings menu offers options to turn off the sound effects and background music, and to choose to read a brief summary of the app's learning philosophy in 17 languages. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

WHAT'S IT ABOUT?

From the interior of a submarine, tap on one of five ocean settings "What's in The Oceans?". Each ecosystem has two scuba divers and a unique set of plants and animals; tap and drag them into the water to watch them interact. Find penguins, seals, orcas, and sheets of ice in the arctic South Pole or turtles and jellyfish near the shore. Watch as penguins or turtles lay eggs, dolphins get caught in the net of a fishing boat, and bigger animals eat smaller animals. Tap on the divers to see short live action clips of ocean scenes.

IS IT ANY GOOD?

This open-ended ocean playground lets kids explore a range of marine life, even if the opportunities for meaningful interaction are limited. Five fun ocean ecosystems each offers kids a different view of ocean life. But what kids actually do to interact with the app remains more or less the same across all five settings: Tap and drag the available plants and animals and watch what happens. There are a few exceptions, including gathering floating garbage to dump in a trash can, tapping on eggs to help hatch baby turtles or penguins, or raising the temperature in the arctic to watch the ice melt. These additions are great, but without in-app guidance or explanation so kids really understand what they're doing, they'll need their parents help to provide context and meaning. It's not always easy to discover everything that can happen in the app, so kids may miss a lot. "What's in the Oceans?" is a cute way to gently introduce some ocean-themed topics, but if parents want to use it as an educational tool, they'll need to provide extra help.

RATING AND CONTENT

Recommended for ages 3 and older

Quality: 4 out of 5

Educational value: 3 out of 5

Ease of play: 4 out of 5

Violence and scariness: 0 out of 5

Sexy stuff: 0 out of 5

Language: 0 out of 5

Drinking, drugs, and smoking: 0 out of 5

Consumerism: 1 out of 5

APP DETAILS

Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad

Price: $2.99

Release date: March 23, 2019

Category: Education

Size: 344.00 MB

Publisher: Learny Land S.L.

Version: 1.0

Minimum software requirements: iOS 9.0 or later

Common Sense Media is an independent nonprofit organization offering unbiased ratings and trusted advice to help families make smart media and technology choices. Check out our ratings and recommendations at www.commonsense.org.

  Comments