App review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
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Popular, trusted resource covers mature topics responsibly.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn just about anything with this massive collection of articles, videos, and audio podcasts totaling more than 40,000 pieces of content. Along with the breadth of content, there's considerable depth, which can help foster a more meaningful understanding of concepts -- be it how space tourism works, what the five most mysterious monuments in the world are, or how Olympic torches work. A little more interactivity would be nice, but what's there (quizzes, etc.) is engaging. From astronomy to zoology, this app goes deep into the subjects curious kids want to explore.

Ease of Play

The app is very easy to navigate, with large icons to tap, a handy search window, and swipe-to-turn pages.


Some articles and videos contain violent content. For example, a Discovery video about a Glendale apartment building shootout warns: "This program contains content that may be disturbing to some viewers. Parental discretion is advised." There are also videos about Al Capone, domestic violence, violent video games, and more.


There is a lot of sexual content to read about in this app, but it's all approached from an educational and often scientific perspective. Articles from DiscoveryHealth and American Baby discuss sexual intercourse and oral sex. A "Stuff you should know" piece is on gender reassignment. There's a sex quiz, "intro to sex education" and "underage sex" articles, how "animals have sex" factoids, and so on.


The words "damn" and "hell" can be seen here. An audio podcast about "swearing at work" has many bleeped out words.


This app is based on content available at, plus a number of Discovery Channel videos. There are also banner advertisements at the bottom of the screen.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

There is content about smoking, drinking alcohol, and doing illicit drugs. The app is an educational resource, and the content is not unlike content you might find in a public library. Article topics range from "Why some athletes use drugs" and "What is a rave?" to "What do I do if my teen is doing drugs" to "How does your body digest a cigarette?"

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that while HowStuffWorks for iPad covers mature themes -- violence, sex, racial issues, alcohol, drugs, and smoking -- it's a trusted educational resource that handles the subject matter responsibly. That said, moms and dads will need to decide whether they want their young kids accessing this information. Versions of the app are also available for the iPhone and Android phones.

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What's it about?

HowStuffWorks for iPad is a huge and reliable resource on -- yep, you guessed it -- how stuff works. It covers virtually every topic, from technology and spirituality to cooking and investing to science and automotive information. Similar to the website but easier to navigate, the app allows users to simply use their fingertip to select the desired subject matter and article of interest. Kids can also watch videos, listen to audio podcasts, and take quizzes that test what they’ve learned.

Is it any good?

HOWSTUFFWORKS -– already a popular and trusted Web resource and TV series -- is now optimized for the iPad. Use your fingertips to swipe through more than 40,000 articles -- ranging from "Five home repairs you should know how to do" to "How great white sharks work" -- along with many thousands of videos, podcasts, quizzes, fast facts, famous quotes, and more.

This collection of diverse topics should also be a goldmine for students. Every article lets you tag it as a favorite, adjust font size, share it (through email, Facebook, or Twitter) or wirelessly print the piece. Shows and video podcasts, which can play full-screen (but not in high-definition), load quickly and run smoothly -- but as you'd expect, a fast online connection is required to view this content. Internet access (3G or Wi-Fi) is also needed for articles. Those who'd like to have immediate access to a wealth of knowledge, offering incredible breadth and depth, will find this free, ad-supported app a gem.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Encourage kids to write their own mock HowStuffWorks article on a subject matter they're knowledgeable in, or help them research and fact-check information.

  • Monitor young kids' use of the app. Some info might not be appropriate for them, as topics include drugs, lock-picking, sex, and real-world violence (such as serial killers).

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Windows app
  • Subjects: Language & Reading: discussion, reading, vocabulary
    Math: arithmetic, money, statistics
    Science: astronomy, electricity, geology
    Hobbies: cooking, gardening, sports
    Arts: music, photography, singing
  • Skills: Self-Direction: academic development, identifying strengths and weaknesses, personal growth
    Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, collecting data, thinking critically
    Tech Skills: social media, using and applying technology
  • Price: Free
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Release date: August 3, 2011
  • Category: Entertainment
  • Size: 31.40 MB
  • Publisher:
  • Version: 1.0.1
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 8.0 or later; Android 4.1 and up
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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