Instructables

Common Sense Media says

Slick DIY app features cool projects; supervision required.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
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8
9
10
11
12
13
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15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Ease of play

Great menus, easy to create own Instructable, clean design, useful icons. Links to YouTube videos often do not work.

Violence

"Iron Flail" is featured in categories, and searches bring up small smoke bombs.

Sex

None in categories but searches found "How to Put on a Condom,"  "Naughty Chocolate Body Paint," and "Conversational (edible?) Underwear." Many others have suggestive titles but tame contents.

Language

Searches for words like "bitch" and "ass" turn up entries containing those words in the title.

Consumerism

No ads in the mobile app, but posts often mention brand names.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

There are many recipes for alcoholic beverages.

Privacy & safety

To create or comment on Instructables, users must create an account with name, email, and password; they can also register via Facebook. There's no privacy policy within the app, though the About section lets users deselect data collection (default is selected).

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Instructables is a slick DIY and how-to share site intended for adults but with lots of useful and offbeat ideas and projects tweens and teens could do with supervision. If kids stick entirely to the Instructables listed in categories, they will avoid most sophisticated content ("How to Make an Arc Welder" or "How to Put on a Condom"). To create a brand new Instructable, users must register with username, email, and password, or via Facebook. To keep the app from collecting usage statistics users can uncheck a box in the About section.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading comprehension
  • writing
  • writing clearly
  • following directions
  • presenting to others

Science

  • engineering
  • electricity

Hobbies

  • building
  • cooking
  • fashion

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • part-whole relationships
  • thinking critically
  • applying information
  • hypothesis-testing

Creativity

  • combining knowledge
  • imagination
  • innovation
  • making new creations

Emotional Development

  • moving beyond obstacles
  • persevering

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

With a wide range of interesting projects, the app is sure to engage. Graphics and design are top notch, and plentiful photos enhance the experience greatly. Contests add interest.

Learning Approach

Projects are well-described, empowering kids to be successful with their own attempts. The comments function lets users ask questions, give support, and add info. Teens can also learn from the experience of adding their own projects.

Support

Links to reference and background info would improve learning significantly. 

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading comprehension
  • writing
  • writing clearly
  • following directions
  • presenting to others

Science

  • engineering
  • electricity

Hobbies

  • building
  • cooking
  • fashion

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • part-whole relationships
  • thinking critically
  • applying information
  • hypothesis-testing

Creativity

  • combining knowledge
  • imagination
  • innovation
  • making new creations

Emotional Development

  • moving beyond obstacles
  • persevering

Kids can learn to follow instructions and improve reading comprehension, not to mention pick up a few cool project ideas (primarily electricity and electronics), recipes, and ways to make toys and create fashion. If kids decide to contribute an Instructable, they will learn to express specific ideas to others concretely by crafting step-by-step text instructions and snapping illustrative photos. Instructables gives tweens and teens the opportunity to learn from others plus showcase their creativity and instruction-writing skills, but supervision is required.

This Learning Rating review was written by Leslie Crenna

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What's it about?

The INSTRUCTABLES app opens in Explore mode with large photo-based panels in eight categories. The main menu includes a search function, contests, followed contributors, and a profile page ("You"). Users can vote for contest entries, comment on Instructables, or create their own Instructable if they're registered. Users tap on Instructable panels (title, photo, and contributor) to bring up step-by-step instructions and photo illustrations.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Instructables is super easy to use and sports unique creative content that'll keep tweens and teens coming back for more. Large fonts, icons, the ability to take photos in-app, and easy edit and delete functions make it very user friendly. Topics range from a giant sun jar made with a clear glass cookie jar, solar lights, LEDs, and frosting spray to maple bacon cheddar garlic biscuits to a homemade arc welder. While some, like the arc welder, are not appropriate for anyone without proper background knowledge and equipment, many, like "Tulle Circle Skirt" and "Paracord Wetsuit Hanger" are quite doable for parent-kid weekend projects. Video links don't always work and contest instructions display nonsense symbols. While Instructables content is ostensibly user generated, some — to be expected for a newly launched share site — appears to be seeded or reused from other share sites.

Families can talk about...

  • Browse with tweens and younger teens, especially when they perform searches.

  • Model reading through all the instructions before starting to determine needs like background knowledge, equipment, materials, cost, and safety.

  • Build together if safety is an issue.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Apps for Windows, Windows Phone
Price:Free
Pricing structure:Free
Release date:March 20, 2013
Category:Lifestyle
Size:4.30 MB
Publisher:Autodesk Inc.
Version:Android 1.0.4; iOS 1.1.0
Minimum software requirements:Android 2.1 and up; iOS 5.0 or later

This review of Instructables 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.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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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.

Find out more

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