NetKids Digital Entertainment Network for Kids

App review by
Patricia Montic..., Common Sense Media
NetKids Digital Entertainment Network for Kids App Poster Image
Subscription grants lots of content; strong parent controls.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn to a small degree about a variety of topics, depending on what they watch or read. Embedded messages in the books and videos are primarily positive, mostly about problem solving and friendship. Some titles include actual educational content, but most are for entertainment. If kids can figure out how to do it -- tap, pause, and swipe -- they can read books without narration, which adds to reading level flexibility. There is an Educational Titles section, so learning potential is a little easier to find that way. Though NetKids Digital Entertainment Network for Kids is primarily meant for entertainment, the inclusion of books and learning content enhances the already wide selection.

Ease of Play

Navigation super simple; consider browsing with Internet access to load up your device for offline viewing.

Violence & Scariness

Depending on the show, expect some mild cartoon violence (of the Peanuts and Kung Fu Panda variety), but nothing gory or scary. Situations and characters such as Dr. Claw in Inspector Gadget might be scary for younger kids.

Sexy Stuff
Language

Check the shows you approve for your kids. In this review, we heard only name-calling -- such as "blockhead" in a Peanuts book -- but new titles are added frequently.

Consumerism

Ads promoting Cupcake Digital's own apps, which are available for download behind a parent access screen, and readers can follow instructions to app store. Lots of popular franchises, such as Ice Age and How to Train Your Dragon.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that NetKids Digital Entertainment Network for Kids is a collection of media for kids to read, watch, and play. Parents can create user accounts for each of their kids and tune their experiences by approving certain shows, leaving others out, and downloading content to the device for offline use. Other than name-calling in a Charlie Brown book, parents likely won't find anything objectionable; however, since content is updated frequently, pay attention to the New Releases section. Know that this downloading process can be time-consuming and that successful use of the app depends on it: If you don't have lots of storage space available, you and your kids will have limited access to content. The app is free to download and includes a seven-day all-access free trial; a subscription costs $7.99 per month.

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What's it about?

NETKIDS DIGITAL ENTERTAINMENT NETWORK is a one-stop shop for kids to explore videos, books, songs, games, and apps featuring some of their favorite characters, such as Sid the Science Kid, Paddington, Thomas the Tank Engine, and Sonic the Hedgehog. Once parents create an age-based account for their child, kids can explore lists (including Educational Titles and Books We Recommend) and search content. Kids can select any item to download to the device, changing its gray icon to green once an item is downloaded and available for viewing. Videos feature subtitles, and books include audio and text highlighting features, though kids can read on their own if they tap, pause, and continue manually. Parental controls are extensive: Parents can create multiple user accounts, exclude particular titles, control video quality (including HD or non-HD video and whether or not downloads use cellular data), contact support, and adjust their subscriptions. 

Is it any good?

Although it takes up a ton of space on your device, this subscription service may be the kid-safe media experience you're looking for. There's a spectacular amount of content here: Just browse by characters to find books, songs, and activities related to everyone from Madeleine to Shrek. One downside is the space requirement. Media needs to be downloaded to the app to be viewed -- it's not streamed -- which is a great fit for offline viewing but might demand a level of planning and foresight that will frustrate some kids. Another small drawback is that the books are adaptations of TV- or movie-based stories, so they might not be exactly what a kid is expecting. A parent setting to limit viewing time would also be a great addition. Overall, though, the extensive parental controls and truly ad-free environment make this app a great fit for kids' solo viewing and families' viewing and reading together.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about which shows are OK to watch. What are your family's rules? What content is right -- and potentially wrong -- for your family? What should kids do if they come across an inappropriate video?

  • Discuss your kids' favorite shows. What do they like best, and why? Who are their favorite characters?

  • Talk about your rules for how long your kids can play or watch. What other activities are important during the day?

App details

For kids who love videos

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