NBack

App review by
Erin Wilkey Oh, Common Sense Media
NBack App Poster Image
Too-fast memory game lacks helpful options.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Although NBack was created with some educational intent, we don't recommend it for learning.

Ease of Play

Gameplay starts difficult and ramps up from there. This n-back task is less about how well players can remember a series of numbers and more about how quickly they can process an image they see. Choosing "colors" instead of "shapes" might be easier for some players, but that depends on their individual processing strengths.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that NBack is a fast-paced memory challenge that might be too difficult for kids and could quickly cause frustration. The activity flashes a collection of basic shapes on the screen, and players must remember the number of a specific shape or color they see (triangles or red, for example). As an n-back task, players set the difficulty level by choosing how many images back they will try to remember (from 1 to 10). The shapes flash for less than a second, and there aren't any settings to adjust the speed for players who need a bit more time to process the images.

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What's it about?

Players practice an n-back task, which is thought to improve working memory. Players choose the difficulty level by selecting how many numbers back (n-back) they will try to remember. The screen flashes an array of basic shapes and asks \"How many?\" of a shape or color, such as triangle or red. The collection of shapes only displays for a brief moment, then a second collection appears. Depending on the level, players must keep track of how many triangles or red shapes they saw several screens before, and enter that number on a keypad.

Is it any good?

N-back tasks are not easy, and the activity in NBACK is no exception. However, this one seems to start out unusually difficult, mostly because of the speed at which the images flash on the screen, which results in a surprisingly short amount of time for players to process what they see. The only variation is "shape" or "color," one of which might be easier than the other depending on a player's processing strengths. Most n-back apps have a few more options and variations to allow players an entry point into the activity and a chance for moderate success. With this one, kids (and adults) who can't keep up with even the easiest level are likely to put the game aside after a minute or two of play.

App details

For kids who love puzzles

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