Clarify* by Playbac-Explain the News to your Kids

App review by
Dana Anderson, Common Sense Media
Clarify* by Playbac-Explain the News to your Kids App Poster Image
Kids get a brief, daily dose of news; subscription required.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

By watching the video stories, kids can learn about citizenship, history, government, the economy, and more. Kids also can evaluate media messages and use critical-thinking skills by answering questions at the ends of the videos and liking or disliking each video.

Ease of Play

Very easy to use -- just tap on a video to watch, swipe right or left to close.

Violence

Topics vary according to the real news of the day; the videos are created by journalists, educators, and animators, who tailor them to kids in fifth through eighth grades, but news could mention violence.

Sex

Topics vary according to the real news of the day; the videos are created by journalists, educators, and animators who tailor them to kids in fifth through eighth grades, so sexual content is unlikely but not impossible.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Topics vary according to the real news of the day; the videos are created by journalists, educators, and animators who tailor them to kids in fifth through eighth grades, so references to substances are possible.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Clarify* by Playbac-Explain the News to your Kids is a video news app for kids. Created by the inventor of Brain Quest, the app has stories that are tailored to kids in fifth through eighth grades, but the developer says the app's news stories are appropriate for people age "9 to 99." A new story appears each day based on a current event or issue, as does breaking news, which posts within 24 hours. The videos run about one to three minutes and end with two questions to spark discussions between kids and parents. At the end of each video, kids are asked whether they liked or didn't like it. Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the types of information collected and shared.

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What's it about?

To begin a one-week free trial, provide CLARIFY* BY PLAYBAC-EXPLAIN THE NEWS TO YOUR KIDS with your email address, and accept the weekly subscription renewal in iTunes. Confirm your account through an email, and then add individual kid accounts for up to five kids across multiple devices. Select the account of the kid who's currently watching the news and choose a story. After choosing a story, kids can listen and tap the heart to save it to favorites. Parents can tap on the Family Board to view each kid's use either in the last five days or "all time."

Is it any good?

If you want your kid to understand current events, but they don't want to read or watch mainstream media, this video app may be a good alternative. Clarify* by Playbac-Explain the News to your Kids indicates that its news is "100 percent fact based, 0 percent opinion." Each day, a new story update is scheduled for 5 p.m. Story headlines are typically phrased in the form of a question that kids may have asked themselves after hearing a term used at school or from another news source -- for example, "What is gender inequality?" and "What's the difference between facts and opinions?" The videos are one to three minutes long, the graphics are eye-catching, and the questions at the ends of the videos can help spark discussions. One concern: Some of the issues that Clarify* covers seem too broad to tackle in one very brief video. Adding some expert-vetted "further resources" sites at the end of the video where kids and parents can go to find out more could improve this app.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the questions at the end of each "clarifier" on Clarify* by Playbac-Explain the News to your Kids. The questions are intended to spark family discussions about the topic.

  • Talk about news literacy and what to look for to determine whether news is legitimate or not. How can you tell if a story's real or fake?

  • Once your kid "likes" or "doesn't like" a story, ask them why. Find out what they think makes a good news story.

  • Encourage your kid to write a news story for their school newspaper or a letter to the editor of your local newspaper or an online news source about an issue they care about.

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
  • Subjects: Social Studies: citizenship, cultural understanding, events, global awareness, government, history, power structures, the economy
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: thinking critically
    Self-Direction: academic development, personal growth
    Tech Skills: evaluating media messages
  • Price: $1.99/week subscription
  • Pricing structure: Free to Try
  • Release date: February 20, 2017
  • Category: Education
  • Size: 12.90 MB
  • Publisher: playBac
  • Version: 1.2
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 8.0 or later

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