Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Animal Jam - Play Wild!

Animal Jam - Play Wild!

Fall 2016 Mobile Apps
Ages: 7 - 11 yrs.
Developer: WildWorks
Platform: iPad

Animal Jam - Play Wild!

is a free, interactive social app for kids ages 9 to 11, produced in collaboration with National Geographic Kids. Players assume an animal character form, set up a home, explore the world, and interact with other players online through mini-games and chats. Players can add other players to a friend list to be able to visit that friend's place or to find favorite game opponents on future visits to the online community. Additionally, players can go to shops and make purchases (using currency earned through daily treasure hunts and the mini-games) for character outfits and home decor.

The child accounts are supervised by a parental account, password-protected and controlled through the developer's website. Parents can choose full chat and scripted chat options; the full chat is monitored, but comments from parents suggest that some inappropriate chatting can slip through the cracks, so we chose to stick to the scripted chat for safety. In-app purchases are available, but these are also controlled through the parent account, so we again chose to disable these. Currency is acquired very slowly through the mini-games, but it is sufficient that paid purchases are unnecessary for unrestricted play. Finally, the parent account can be used to see how often one's child is logged in, and whether there have been any discipline concerns.

In transitions between activities the game displays animal trivia. This was a seemingly endless array of facts about animals from all over the world; many of the facts were new to us. Unfortunately, this appeared to be the entire extent of the educational content of the app, which surprised us for a game sponsored by National Geographic.

Despite the lack of educational content, we found Animal Jam to be cute and entertaining. Our tween tester-in-chief spent many hours setting up her rabbit's home, buying decor and costume elements, making new friends, and playing the mini-games. Her favorite was a contest in which players had to dress their characters to fit a theme (crazy, funny, cute, etc.) and then vote on the other players' characters. She also loved just hopping around the world, saying "hello" to other characters, exploring her options (and sliding down the water slide). Though Animal Jam - Play Wild! is not a must-have, it is an app that kids are sure to enjoy.

Emily Crawford   ©2016 Parents' Choice
Emily holds a BSE in electrical engineering and computer science from Duke University and a Master's in computer engineering from Georgia Tech. She is a homeschooling parent and lives with her husband, three children, five cats, and thousands of LEGOs in Blacksburg, Virginia.

Look for this product at:
Available on iTunes

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