PK XD - Explore the Universe

App review by
Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Media
PK XD - Explore the Universe App Poster Image
Kid-safe virtual world with in-app purchases.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Created for entertainment and not intended for learning.

Ease of Play

Minimal instructions. Kids discover what they can do by playing and exploring.

Violence
Sex

Kissing emoji is available in chat.

Language

Poop emoji produces fart sound from character.

Consumerism

Ads in-game until purchase is made. Kids can buy coins through in-app purchase to use in the game.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that PK XD - Explore the Universe is a virtual world for kids to explore and customize. Kids create avatars, which are fully customizable in a rainbow of skin colors. When kids make their user profile they aren't allowed to use real names, or names that could be suggestive or offensive. Other players can request to friend kids, and kids can accept or decline a request. However, any other player, friend or not, can enter anyone's home. The chat option is pre-set: Kids have to choose from certain words or phrases, or use emojis. There's some potty humor in the chat options, including a poop emoji that makes a fart sound. Ads appear occasionally throughout unless kids make an in-app purchase to get rid of them. Coins allow kids to furnish their home, dress their avatar, buy food, and so on. Kids earn coins by playing or watching video ads, or they can buy coins through in-app purchases. Kids don't have to register to play, but if theys use an email address to create an account, they can log in and play from multiple devices. Links in the "News" section takes kids out of PK XD - Explore the Universe to YouTube where they watch user-created videos of avatars exploring and playing in the app. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

Kids start PK XD - EXPLORE THE UNIVERSE by choosing a name (not their real name or anything the developers mark as inappropriate) and then design their avatar's skin, hair, and outfit. Some options cost in-app coins, which kids earn by playing every day and completing missions -- like delivering a pizza or gathering fruit. They can buy coins, too, with real money, which also disables ads. They then move on to their house where they can decorate and upgrade as well as visit other player's homes. There's also a school, a playground, and a huge pool to visit. Kids can chat with other players using pre-set phrases and emojis. If kids add friends to their list, it's easier to find them when they're both online.

Is it any good?

This safer-for-kids virtual world has lots to explore and customize, but there are purchases. Kids who are interested in virtual worlds should easily find plenty to in PK XD - Explore the Universe. There are a variety of settings to hang out in, from schools and parks and towns. And there's lots to decorate, like outfits and homes. There are also lots of opportunities to make in-app purchases: Parents should be prepared to handle requests to spend real money. PK XD - Explore the Universe's restrictions on chat might frustrate kids, but the canned, pre-set language is a safe way to let them communicate. For example, kids can ask, "Where are you from?" but replies are limited to continents. It's disappointing that any user can enter your virtual home, but the limits on chat options helps make that more annoying than unsafe. Closing out of the app is tricky the first time, but kids just need to swipe from the line at the bottom of the screen. Given that virtual playgrounds are popular with kids, but aren't always safe spaces, PK XD - Explore the Universe strikes a good balance between creative exploration and safety.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about guidelines for adding "friends" in games like PK XD - Explore the Universe. Ask why the developer set it up so that kids can't chat in full conversations, what they can learn from that. Read our article on online playgrounds.

  • Discuss your family's approach to making in-app purchases. Are they okay? How much is okay? Who pays for them? Check out 5 Ways to Curb Kids' In-App Purchases for tips.

  • Talk about how kids feel connecting to others in virtual worlds versus the real world. How are the experiences different? Do they prefer one way over the other? Why?

App details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love simulation games

Themes & Topics

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