Gems With Friends

App review by
Chris Morris, Common Sense Media
Gems With Friends App Poster Image
Fast-paced matching game fun and, of course, social.

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn to think quickly and form problem-solving skills with Gems With Friends. While the match-three elements are straightforward, kids will have to not only match like-numbered gems, they'll also need to decide where to place them on the board so the new gem that emerges can best work for them. Gems With Friends is an engaging game that offers a little practice with strategy and problem solving.

Ease of Play

Players familiar with the match-three gameplay style (which is very common in other titles) will quickly grasp how to play this. 


There's no language in the game, but players can chat with strangers, which could result in some unwanted offensive words or phrases. 


The free version of the game includes ads. Both games encourage (but don't force) players to purchase additional coins, which are used to improve the point totals of their gems. It's possible to play without buying coins, but it can be frustrating, because it's clear that spending more coins greatly increases your chances of winning.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Gems With Friends is a match-three puzzle game in the tradition of Bejeweled or Zynga's own Matching With Friends. Players -- who must have a Facebook or Games With Friends account -- match three or more colored tiles, matching as many same-numbered gems as possible before their time runs out. You can play against random opponents, and messaging between two players is unmoderated. You can also play against Facebook friends, Twitter followers, or people in your contacts. The game comes in both a free and paid version. The paid version is ad free (although it does promote Zynga's own games).

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What's it about?

Players must match three similar gems to earn points -- and those gems must have the same number as at least two other nearby gems. Each match earns you points and a new gem (i.e. matching a line of "1" gems earns you a "2" gem when they combine, which appears in the spot where you placed the last matching gem and is worth more points). The higher the number on the gem, the more points you earn for making a match. Bonus gems can extend chains, freeze time, or offer other bonuses. Whoever earns the most points after three rounds is the winner.

Is it any good?

Gems With Friends is certainly a fun game -- but its release shows Zynga may be turning into a victim of its own success. The game is easy to grasp, well-paced, and fun -- but it's sometimes hard to find someone to play against. So many people are focused on other "With Friends" games that they're ignoring this one. (Even finding a random opponent takes a little while.) 

There's certainly variety, though -- no game board is ever the same. And if you prefer a game that forces quick thinking, the clever mechanic of reducing your bonus if you don't make matches fast enough is an intriguing one. It's not perfect, but it's ultimately a fun social game. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Play chess or another forward-looking game to show kids how to strategize. Speed chess will teach them to think quickly. Chess With Friends and Chess Academy for Kids are also good options.

  • Encourage kids to play with their real-life friends rather than use random matchups. And join the fun by playing against your teen as well.

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, problem solving, strategy
  • Price: Free-$1.99
  • Release date: September 10, 2012
  • Category: Puzzle Games
  • Size: 24.00 MB
  • Publisher: Zynga
  • Version: 4.11
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 4.3 or later
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

Our editors recommend

For kids who love puzzles

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