Australian Council on Children and the Media

ABCMouse.com - Age of Learning Inc

app image

Short takes

ABCMouse.com is a subscription based learning app for children.

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No gambling content found in the levels played

This review of ABCMouse.com was completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 15 May 2016.

About the app

This section contains details about the app provided by an ACCM Reviewer.

Name of app: ABCMouse.com
Developed by: Age of Learning Inc
Platform reviewed: Apple App Store, Google Play
Cost: Free, Paid
Developer’s suggested age: Google Play Store: 3+; iTunes Store: 4+
ACCM suggested age: 4+
Gambling content advice: No gambling content found in the levels played

ACCM review

This review of ABCMouse.com contains the following information:

The level to which the game was reviewed

This app was reviewed for approximately 1 hour.

App description

ABCMouse.com is a learning/educational app for children of various ages. The objective is to complete the lessons within the app that span across a range of topics such as reading, math, human sciences, etc. The app contains videos, puzzles, colouring-in stencils, and a range of other activities within each topic. There are many skills required, some of which include mathematics skills, English and vocabulary skills, creativity, memory, etc

Reviewers comments

When the app is first installed, users are shown a full-screen ABCMouse.com screen. It states that players are able to try ABCMouse.com ‘free for 30 days’ – there is also a small sign which states ‘Special Offer! 38% off Annual Membership!, along with a short testimonial quote from a parent. Upon clicking on the ‘Learn More’ section, players are shown a short video stating that it is the ‘most comprehensive early learning program on earth’. It shows players that they are able to play games, listen to music, listen to videos, and participate in thousands of activities of their choosing. The learning path guides children. Activities are organised into a step-by-step curriculum which purports to work alongside regular school-based learning. It also states that it can track the progress that children make. The ad states that accounts can be accessed from any device, and players can pick up right where they left off. The video then shows an interview with several parents, where they state that they have children who have ‘excelled on ABCMouse.com’.

After the video finishes, players are presented with a small pop-up stating ‘Thanks for watching our video! Get your first month FREE! Enter your email address to begin.’ After entering in an email address, it is compulsory for players to tick ‘I agree to receive emails from ABCMouse.com’ in order to continue. From here, players are asked to ‘Create a Family Account’ by entering in an email and password, selecting the Special Subscription Offer (‘First month free! Future months will be billed at $7.95 per month’, or $10.95 AUS), and to then enter their credit card details or pay via PayPal. They are informed that they will not be billed until the end of the first month, and that there is "easy cancelation".

Players are then encouraged to view a ‘Getting Started Video’. The video assists parents in understanding the functions of the app (eg difficulty levels, how the app is laid out, customisation options, independent vs guided learning, etc). Parents are then able to create a Parent Account by entering their name and personal avatar, as well as accounts for multiple children. Parents must enter their children’s name, age, academic level, as well as select a particular animated teacher to appear in the child’s classroom (there are four to choose from, with each individual being a different ethnicity). It is also possible to create a custom avatar for children (by selecting from a range of features such as eyes, nose, mouth, hair, pants, etc), or parents can choose from pre-set options.

After the initial set-up is completed, players are taken to a central home screen. There is an option to enter a Parents section, which must be done by typing in a password. Within this section, the following options are available: Progress Tracker, Child Settings, Curriculum Overview, Community, How-to Videos, Assessments, and Customer Support.

In regards to the Progress Tracker, parents are able to view graphs on specific Subject Progress (including Reading, Math, Science & Health, and Social Studies) as well as Activity Progress (across tasks such as Art, Songs, Books, Puzzles and Games). Players can view stats related to the last week, month, or year.

Within the Curriculum Overview, there are in-depth descriptions of each category children can explore. For example, within the ‘Learning Spoken Words’ section, players are informed that ‘When your child reads, he or she looks at the written words on a page and decides what spoken words the written words represent. However, that doesn’t help him understand what he is reading unless he also knows the meaning of those spoken words. The collection of spoken words that a child understands is usually called his or her oral vocabulary. You build oral vocabulary when you share books, stories, etc. The books and activities listed below are just a few examples of the different types of learning materials available at ABCMouse.com.’ Similar information is presented for each category.

In the ‘Community’ section, players are provided with links to the app’s Facebook and Twitter, as well as Youtube and Instagram.

The home screen also contains the following options, each of which have a colourful image attached: My Learning Path, Classroom, Zoo, Map, Farm, What’s New, Featured Activities and Things to Do.

When players click on My Learning Path, they are told to select the first lesson (‘Videos’). There are three activities within this lesson (The Letter A Video, The Letter B Video, and The Letter C Video). These videos are animated musical videos focusing on a particular letter of the alphabet. The images shown are all related to the letter, and the words being sung relate to the letter also. The lyrics are presented along the bottom of the screen, and every letter ‘A’ within the text is highlighted a different colour. The lyrics include things such as ‘And Allie watched an alligator swim without a sound’.

Lesson 2 involves Colouring. Within this, players are given a range of colour palettes and mediums (e.g. paintbrush, pencil, pen, etc) to paint within a stencilled image of the letters ‘A, B and C’. They can opt to click-and-fill colours, or can manually colour-in sections by rubbing their finger over certain areas. Each time a different colour is chosen, the app audibly states what the colour was (e.g. ‘Green’, ‘Yellow’, etc).

The other lessons involve things such as Tracing, Matching Cards, Cutout Puzzles and Painting by Sections. At the end of each lesson, players receive a set number of Tickets which they can spend within different sections of the game, and also obtain ‘gift prizes’ that they can collect.

Within the ‘Classroom’, players can explore things such as Reading, Math, etc. In each category, there are a wide range of activities including books to read on the subject of, games to play, puzzles revolving around the chosen topics, as well as an art and music category that involves painting related images.

From the home screen, players can also view their personal profile, where they can access the following features: My Room, My Pets, My Pet Park, My Aquarium, My Tickets, My Stats, My Files, My Favourites, and My Lessons.

Within the ‘My Room’ section, players are able to furnish their room with a range of different items (e.g. tables, chairs, decorative objects, etc). Each of these items cost differing numbers of ‘Tickets’- these tickets are earned by playing through the levels and activities within the game. The Pet Store is similar, with players being able to purchase different types of animals by utilising Tickets they have earned. These appear to function as fun rewards to encourage children to play through more of the learning activities.

The app is incredibly varied and expansive in the range of activities provided. The activities reviewed appear to all be age-appropriated – the functions of the app are easy to utilise, and the Parents Section is protected by a secure password. The videos contain no inappropriate content, and the activities provide age-appropriate learning challenges and stimulation for young children.

In App purchasing

Yes: Whilst the first month of the app is free, the monthly subscription costs AUS $10.95.

Online information

There are links to the app’s Facebook and Twitter pages. Players are also required to create a ‘Family Account’ by entering in an email and password.

Gambling

No simulated gambling content was found during this review.

Game playing behaviour which may be of concern to some parents

No game playing behaviour which may be of concern to parents was found during this review.

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About our colour guide

Content is age appropriate for children this age

Some content may not be appropriate for children this age. Parental guidance recommended

Content is not age appropriate for children this age

Gambling content advice

Simulated casino style gambling. Not suitable for minors

Contains some elements of gambling. Some content is not recommended for minors. Parental guidance recommended

No gambling content found in the levels played

About games and gambling

Most games contain elements of risk, chance and knowledge, that is why they are fun to play. There is growing concern about the impacts of simulated gambling games on the health and wellbeing of children. That's why we are identifying games that contain gambling elements on our site.

The State Government of South Australia's web site http://nogame.com.au/ contains information about these concerns.