My Robot Friend
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that My Robot Friend is a LeapFrog app targeted at older elementary kids, unlike LeapFrog's usual early education offerings. There's some crude humor with a sarcastic, burping cat and some mild violence blowing up stuffed animals with rockets and freezing robots, but nothing graphic. The narrator even comments that they'll be able to put the stuffed animals back together again later and explains that they just need to be blown up so the robot can get to the treasure.
What's it about?
Kids direct their robot friend through mazes to a treasure chest by programming his moves step by step. Kids are rewarded with ribbons after completing each round, and can unlock fun mini-games -- like dance parties where they can program the music and moves for their robot and advanced programming challenges where they save monkeys. Kids work with directionality, adding steps, and negative numbers as they plan the best way to get the robot to the treasure and avoid the obstacles.
Is it any good?
My Robot Friend combines fun and logic in such a way that kids love every minute of the increasing challenges they face and may not even realize they are building the logical thinking and strategy skills needed for computer programming. The story-based games are just crude and silly enough -- with a fat cat bad guy trying to thwart their missions -- to appeal to older kids and tweens. The frequent rewards that let kids earn currency to buy costumes for their robot and the seriously fun mini-games help keep kids motivated to keep playing. Though the puzzles start off easy enough, the challenge grows steadily and quickly.
Families can talk about...
Steer kids interested in programming to try out Scratch, an MIT application to teach kids programming.
Talk to kids about the many areas computer programming is needed and used -- in apps and games and websites and even cash registers and phones and machines we encounter every day.