Fix It Girls - House Makeover

App review by
Dana Anderson, Common Sense Media
Fix It Girls - House Makeover App Poster Image
Girl-friendly but ad-heavy sim ignores safety.

Parents say

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Created for entertainment and not with educational intent.

Ease of Play

Simple point and swipe, if players can navigate around intrusive ads (or if parents pay to remove the ads).

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism

An ad for another game by this developer appears each time the app is opened. There's a "More Apps" icon on the main screen, banner ads for companies such as Exxon Mobil and Plenti, and a shopping cart icon that leads kids to in-app purchases. A full-screen pop-up ad for another app appears after you press Play for the game. Full-screen ads continue to appear intermittently throughout gameplay. Banner ads remain on the screen throughout play, and ads can only be removed via a $0.99 in-app purchase. Access to all rooms in the house is only available via a $4.99 in-app purchase. No in-app gate on purchases or downloads.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Fix It Girls - House Makeover is a home-repair sim with all female characters that includes many ads, lots of in-app purchases, and no warnings about real-world fix-it safety. By simple pointing and swiping, players fix electrical appliances, light fixtures, bathtubs, stairs, plumbing, and furniture in different rooms of homes. Kids can paint walls and draw signs on the home and "earn upgrades" as they play. Access to all rooms in the house is available via a $4.99 in-app purchase, and ads can be removed for a $0.99 in-app purchase. Note that there's no parent gate on purchases except for your device's settings. 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?

Tap "Play" on FIX IT GIRLS - HOUSE MAKEOVER, and ads for other, unrelated games immediately pop up. To close them and return to the actual game, the player needs to find the small "x" on the upper part of the screen. Once you're on the main game screen, a hand icon swipes across the screen to show where the player should move the girl in the house to start fixing stuff, and then another full-screen ad appears. Tap the "x" to remove the ad, and the room in need of repair appears. A voice says, "Oh, boy. This is a mess!" Tap on the door to come into the room, and tap on an item in the room to repair it. Another screen appears with a hand icon to show where to swipe a tool to fix the item, and so on until all components are repaired. When it's complete, more ads appear before the player can move onto another repair.

Is it any good?

Though it looks like a promising, girl-empowering, kid-friendly app, most players will want to pack up their tool boxes and go home after seeing the kazillion ads and in-app purchases. Even more concerning, Fix It Girls - House Makeover shows kids how to do potentially dangerous household repairs -- unscrewing covers to light switches, clipping electrical wires with wire snippers, using hand-held power tools -- without showing any safety precautions or giving any safety warnings. The kid characters, bright, kid-friendly graphics, and simple design of gameplay (basic touch and swipe) may give this app the look and feel that it's appropriate for young kids. And, yes, the obnoxious ads can be removed with an in-app purchase. But more in-app purchases will be required to access all rooms in the house, and this app sets kids up for frustration by allowing them to start repairs on the room before the notice pops up that it's locked without an in-app purchase. In the end, the positive core concept is overshadowed and needs some serious retooling if the app is ever going to be built as a safe, positive experience for kids.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Fix It Girls - House Makeover (like some other apps that use this format) isn't as kid-friendly as it may look. Point out the ads for companies like Trane and Exxon Mobil that are obviously not selling things made for kids, and discuss the way many ads and in-app purchases continue to interrupt gameplay.

  • Review your family's rules about in-app purchases. Read Common Sense Media's 8 Ways to Save (and Spend) on Free Apps.

  • Discuss home-repair safety. Go through a list of items you need to make real repairs such as those on this app (safety goggles, gloves), and talk about what sort of repairs and tools (electrical, power tools) can be seriously dangerous. Talk about your family's rules for who repairs what, and remind your kid that if he or she sees something broken around the home to always tell an adult.

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
  • Price: Free
  • Pricing structure: Free (with optional in-app purchases)
  • Release date: February 8, 2016
  • Category: Simulation Games
  • Size: 80.60 MB
  • Publisher: TabTale LTD
  • Version: 1.3
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 6.0 or later; Android 4.0.3 and up

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