Dr. Panda Cafe

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
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Order up some fun, structured, pretend play.

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

Educational Value

Kids can use their executive-functioning skills as they work to satisfy all their customers. Remembering each customer's order exercises their memory and matching skills. Kids can add a touch of personal flair when they decide which toppings or garnishes to add to each order. Mostly, kids will experience how hard it can be to keep up with everything in a busy café.

Ease of Play

The way kids must tap and drag things around is mostly intuitive, but kids may need a bit of trial-and-error experimentation since there are no instructions or hints.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

A small icon on the home screen, which can be turned off in the parents' section, takes kids to advertisements for other apps from the same developer. A parent gate protects purchase.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that, with Dr. Panda Cafe, kids act as the waiter, cook, and busser in a busy café. The game starts off slowly, but as kids play, things can get pretty hectic. Customers arrive and need to be seated, and orders need to be taken, food and drinks prepared, bills paid, and tables cleaned. Customers reward good service with tips, and kids collect new foods to offer. Since there's no obvious stopping point, parents may want to set time limits ahead of time. In the parents' section, parents can turn background music and sound effects on or off and hide the advertising icon on the home screen. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your information is collected and shared.

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What's it about?

With DR. PANDA CAFE, kids are in charge of it all at the neighborhood café. As customers come in the door, kids seat them at tables and take their food and drink orders by matching items to each customer's thought bubble. Then they go into the kitchen to prepare each order correctly, customize it with toppings, and bring it to the correct customer. When the customers are finished, kids collect a tip and clean the table. If kids don't create the right orders, customers show some mild displeasure. Tips lead to stars, which unlock new foods and drinks. As the game progresses, things can get busy!

Is it any good?

Playing "restaurant" is certainly high up on the list of classic real-world situations kids love to recreate in their pretend play. And with Dr. Panda Cafe, kids get to do it all, from being the waiter to the cook to the busser. Unlike some other games in the Dr. Panda series, this one is not open-ended. Kids have only a few opportunities to make their own choices. Most of the game requires kids to match, prepare, and deliver orders according to what each customer requests, and correctly fulfilled orders get higher tips. Despite that, Dr. Panda's Cafe is fun, and things can get really hopping when the café is full and all the customers need attention. Particularly for kids who like to role-play, Dr. Panda's Cafe is a simple, easily accessible platform for virtual pretend play.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what it's like to be in charge of a whole café in Dr. Panda Cafe. Is it hard to keep up with all those customers? How do kids decide which customers to attend to and when? What does a tip mean?

  • Talk to kids about their experiences in restaurants and cafés. What are their expectations for what happens in these places?

  • Follow your kids' interests and create opportunities to play pretend with them. Let them try on lots of roles -- for example, the customer in a restaurant, the superhero out to save the world, or the baby in need of parenting.

App details

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