News-O-Matic

Common Sense Media says

Fun, interactive way for kids to learn about the world.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Ease of play

Easy to use. The main screen lays out a few main headlines for the day in blocks with photos, so kids can choose one that looks and sounds interesting to them. The "Read to Me" feature reads news stories aloud to kids. Kids can tap on vocabulary words in the article to learn their meanings, as well as tap on "Fact" to learn a basic fact presented in the article, or "Act" to read an extension question or activity related to the article. Tap "Go There" to view a map of where the topic of the article occurred. The two extra games are easy to play, too.

Violence & scariness

The app covers news, and some news is violent and upsetting. A special advice section under the "i" tab -- "Upset by the News?" -- gives kids advice on how to handle upsetting news in a healthy way (for example, talking to teachers, parents, and friends about the story). 

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism

At the time of this review, subscription prices were $1.99 per daily issue, $6.99 a week, or $49.99 per year. There are no in-app purchases (other than the subscriptions) and no ads. Subscriptions renew automatically unless you go into your iTunes account and change subscription settings to not renew. Some of the news stories focus on product brands, such as DC Comics super heroes (there's a writing contest sponsored by DC Comics); for-profit organizations; or publicity events, like the MTV Movie Awards.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety

Press4Kids, News-O-Matic's developer, asks for a kid's first name, birthday, and location during the subscription process, but the information is not required. A kid's name and chosen image (a photo or cute animal pic) appears on the app's main screen ("Hi, Emily") when he or she opens the app. The News Room feature allows kids to write or draw an image to the editor-in-chief; some of these submissions are posted on the app with the kid's first name and age. Kids must have a parent or guardian's permission before subscribing, and the subscription requires an in-app purchase. The app asks users to allow a kid's location for the map feature. The app is COPPA compliant, and indicates in its terms that it does not disclose kids' information to other sources.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that News-O-Matic is an interactive, paid subscription-based newspaper for kids ages 7-10. Five news stories -- from world political news to celebrity stories -- are posted on the News-O-Matic app's main page each day. Stories are written by experts, and a child psychologist reviews the articles. There are more than 15 different features on this newsy app, including the stories, puzzles, a word game, and audio. The "Read to Me" feature is beneficial for kids who have auditory processing issues or difficulty with verbal reasoning. The map feature displays the distance from a kid's home to the location of a news story (if the user allows the app to access location), along with a silly distance tracker, like the number of pope hats it takes to get from your home to Vatican City for a story on the Catholic Church.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading
  • reading comprehension
  • vocabulary

Social Studies

  • power structures
  • events
  • geography
  • government

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • thinking critically

Emotional Development

  • perspective taking

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Highly engaging. There are more than 15 different ways to interact with News-O-Matic, including five current news stories on a wide range of topics posted each day. Kids can send comments and drawings to the editor.

Learning Approach

Content is target-age appropriate and empowers kids to form their own opinions on current issues. It combines a focus on Common Core standards with interactivity, a dash of silly fun, and kid-friendly celeb news, too.

Support

Each article includes an optional extension question or prompt to get kids thinking or exploring the idea, issue, or place presented in the news.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • reading
  • reading comprehension
  • vocabulary

Social Studies

  • power structures
  • events
  • geography
  • government

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • thinking critically

Emotional Development

  • perspective taking

Kids can learn about current events, countries around the world, and pop culture, on News-O-MaticAs kids read and interact with the five new stories each day, their reading fluency and comprehension as well as vocabulary skills can get a boost. Difficult stories about world news events (edited by a child psychologist before they are published on the app) may help kids learn perspective taking and emotional awareness. News-O-Matic makes daily news topics interactive, engaging, and fun for kids.

This Learning Rating review was written by Dana Villamagna

Parents say

Kids say

Not yet rated
Review this title!

What's it about?

Open the app to view the front page of NEWS-O-MATIC, which includes five top stories of the day with colorful pictures, as well as the games (Puzzle Picture or Mystery Word), news timeline quiz, News Room (interact with the editor), and information features. Tap on a story and the written content appears, with more photos and interactive content. There are many interactive options on each news article's page: Fact, Act, Map, find out about the author, write or draw something, and more. In all, more than 15 options for kids in this newsy app.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

News-O-Matic is an excellent news source for kids at home or in the classroom and well worth the subscription fee -- if your kid will read the five daily stories and delve into the interactive content consistently. For kids who like news, this app is a sure winner. Kids can read about real-world news (or have it read aloud to them by the app's "Read to Me" feature), such as politics and news of the economy, as well as stories with lighter topics like entertainment, celebrities, or sports. You may want to consider trying a few issues before signing up for a longer-term subscription to get a feel for whether the typical range of topics appeals to your kid.

News-O-Matic exposes kids to topics of all kinds, and it tries to include ways to get kids interacting with stories (maps, questions, games, write-the-editor features) far beyond the typical end-of-article multiple-choice quiz on other similar news-for-kids products. With teachers, writers, and a child psychologist on board, News-O-Matic takes news for kids seriously and hope kids will find it fun, too.

Families can talk about...

  • Talk with kids about why it's worthwhile to be well-rounded in news and not limit reading to one or two subjects.

  • Consider reading the five articles on the app before your kid does (or with your kid) to prepare for any needed discussion about challenging topics.

App details

Devices:iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
Price:Free
Pricing structure:Free
Subscription price:$1.99/issue; $6.99/mo.;$49.99/year
Release date:January 16, 2014
Category:Education
Size:65.20 MB
Publisher:Press4Kids
Version:3.0
Minimum software requirements:iOS 5.0 or later

This review of News-O-Matic 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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What parents and kids say

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Educator and Parent Written byGillanB May 3, 2013
AGE
7
QUALITY
 

Thanks News-O-Matic!!!

My daughter loves this app! She can't wait to get home to read it. I'm so happy because now she is reading everyday.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Parent Written byMarcus18 April 17, 2013
AGE
7
QUALITY
 

Great current events app for kids!

I love this app for my 8 years old. He loves reading the news like we do. I like to see him reading on an iPad! The article on the Boston tragedy is really appropriate and helped me discuss with my son.
What other families should know
Great messages

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