HowStuffWorks

 
(i)

 

Learning(i)

Popular, trusted resource covers mature topics responsibly.

What parents need to know

Ease of play

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

Violence

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.

Sex

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.

Language

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

Consumerism

This app is based on content available at HowStuffWorks.com, 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?"

Privacy & safety

Minor privacy concerns. Players can opt in to Apple’s Game Center to track scores and achievements, and for some games, challenge friends. With Game Center, players can send and receive friend requests using an email address or Game Center nickname, revealing the first and last name associated with each party’s Apple ID and, in the case of email requests, the sender’s email address. There are also connections to social media with in the app, but participation is optional.

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.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading
  • discussion
  • vocabulary

Math

  • statistics
  • money
  • arithmetic

Science

  • electricity
  • geology
  • astronomy

Arts

  • music
  • photography
  • singing

Hobbies

  • gardening
  • sports
  • cooking

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • thinking critically
  • applying information
  • collecting data

Self-Direction

  • identifying strengths and weaknesses
  • personal growth
  • academic development

Tech Skills

  • using and applying technology
  • social media

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Gives teens immediate access to a wealth of knowledge, offering incredible breadth and depth of topics. Free, ad-supported app a gem. Shows and video podcasts load quickly and run smoothly. 

Learning Approach

Learning happens via the massive collection of articles, videos, and audio podcasts, 40,000 strong. Users can gain meaningful understanding of concepts due to excellent presentation and depth of topics.

Support

Bits of interactivity in the form of quizzes, but more would be better. Every article lets users tag it as a favorite and share it (through email, Facebook, or Twitter) or wirelessly print the piece. 

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading
  • discussion
  • vocabulary

Math

  • statistics
  • money
  • arithmetic

Science

  • electricity
  • geology
  • astronomy

Arts

  • music
  • photography
  • singing

Hobbies

  • gardening
  • sports
  • cooking

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • thinking critically
  • applying information
  • collecting data

Self-Direction

  • identifying strengths and weaknesses
  • personal growth
  • academic development

Tech Skills

  • using and applying technology
  • social media

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.

This Learning Rating review was written by Marc Saltzman

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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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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, Android, Apps for Windows, Windows Phone
Price:Free
Pricing structure:Free
Release date:August 3, 2011
Category:Entertainment
Size:31.40 MB
Publisher:HowStuffWorks.com
Version:1.0.1
Minimum software requirements:iOS 4.2 or later

This review of HowStuffWorks was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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