Puffin Academy

App review by
Patricia Montic..., Common Sense Media
Puffin Academy App Poster Image
Speedy browser links to Flash-based education websites.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can use Puffin Academy to access great sites from a curated list of educational organizations and publishers. The sites cover a range of topics; some are geared toward kids with special needs, while others have a more subject-specific focus on math or language arts. Unfortunately, the list of available sites is a little limited, but kids and parents who browse using Puffin Academy can safely access helpful study tools that wouldn't normally be available on mobile devices.

Ease of Play

Puffin Academy is fast and easy to use, but it can be frustrating: Clicking and dragging on the device's touchscreen have different results in this app than they do elsewhere. 

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Puffin Academy is an app that serves as an alternative Web browser that only offers access to a pre-set list of educational websites. Its big appeal is that lets users access websites that use the Flash plug-in, which is unavailable on many mobile devices but still is widely in use on many websites used in education. If you're interested in accessing these sites on your mobile device or creating a safe space for your kids to study online, Puffin Academy can be a helpful tool. 

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What's it about?

PUFFIN ACADEMY is a mobile Web browser that offers kids access to a pre-set list of education-related websites from around the Web. You can browse the list by name or by subject area (such as science or social studies). Within its approved websites, Puffin Academy offers all the features of a standard mobile Web browser; it's easy to bookmark, browse, and share content.

Puffin Academy's main claim to fame, however, is that it allows access to websites that use the Flash plug-in, which isn't compatible with most mobile devices but is still used on many stellar educational and gaming websites. To make it easier to use those sites, there's a feature for overlaying gaming controls and a virtual trackpad on the device's screen.

Is it any good?

Unfortunately, only a slim portion of the Web is accessible through Puffin Academy. The site's main page links to a list of approved sites from such educational institutions as publishers and nonprofits. Some great content is available, but it's definitely limited. Although it's technically possible to bookmark other sites such as the New York Times website, the browser blocks most sites not on its built-in "whitelist." This is an effective way to prevent kids from wandering into unseemly corners of the Internet, but it also can be pretty limiting.

The gaming console and trackpad overlays are nice and sometimes necessary to navigate the Flash sites. Additionally, using Puffin Academy involves a constant connection to the developer's cloud-based computers, and that connection can drain the device's battery quickly and make it cumbersome to switch between apps on the device. Ultimately, this could be a great browser for accessing the specific Flash-based sites linked from the Puffin Academy home page. It's incredibly fast, and it's nice to have a list of kid-friendly websites. But without the ability to bookmark most sites beyond that list, this app may not work well as an overall go-to mobile browser for kids. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the history of the Internet. What's changed, and what's remained the same? 

  • Families also can talk about staying safe online. What else can you do while browsing to make wise choices? 

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
  • Skills: Tech Skills: using and applying technology
  • Pricing structure: Free
  • Release date: June 23, 2014
  • Category: Education
  • Size: 13.50 MB
  • Publisher: CloudMosa Inc.
  • Version: 3.7.2
  • Minimum software requirements: Requires iOS 6.0 or later.

For kids who love learning

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