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Sift - News Therapy

App review by
Ana Beltran, Common Sense Media
Sift - News Therapy App Poster Image
Fun, interactive, thorough way to explore current topics.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can read about current events.  The app unpacks the historical context behind current news and allows kids to explore different sources, including primary sources, data, and analyze different perspectives. 

Ease of Play

Navigating the app is quite intuitive. Choose a topic, swipe and tap to read the articles, explore the various sources, and take the mini-quizzes embedded in the series. 

Violence

Kids will be able to browse and read articles that deal with violence as it pertains to real world context and current events. 

Sex

Kids will be able to browse and read articles that deal with sex or sexuality as it pertains to real world context and current events. 

Language

Primary sources and quotes may describe events, people, or groups in amature language in order to illustrate perspective and/or facts. 

Consumerism

A $19.99 six-month subscription is required to access the entire series and upcoming articles. No parent gate.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Kids will be able to browse and read articles that deal with drinking, smoking, and drugs as it pertains to real world context and current events. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sift – News Therapy is a news app that allows kids to read articles on a series of current topics. The app breaks down the historical context behind today’s news headlines and illustrates information through primary sources and interactive graphs and charts. It aims to provide users access to information beyond what is offered by popular headlines and news channels, giving them access to a platform that allows them to explore various perspectives, data, and context. New topics are published on a weekly basis and include two articles. Mini-quizzes embedded in the articles test user’s knowledge around the topic and its historical context. Though kids younger than 13 could use the app with guidance, it wasn't made for kids, and therefore is free to collect data from the account holder; parents should create the account for kids younger than 13 and use the app with them. The free seven-day trial grants access to one article and an opportunity for kids explore the app’s features; however, a subscription is required to unlock all the articles in the series and access to the weekly new release. 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.

User Reviews

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What's it about?

SIFT – NEWS THERAPY is a news platform that aims to breakdown complex current topics by presenting historical context, exploring different perspectives, and illustrating information grounded in data. The current series includes six topics, each released on a weekly basis. Among the topics addressed by the app are immigration, gun control, segregation in the education system, and healthcare. Each topic is explored through two articles that explore big ideas relevant to the topic. Primary sources, including photographs and past newspaper articles, and data presented through graphs, charts, and maps are embedded in each article. A tab on the bottom left hand corner of each page discloses the source of the information presented. Tapping the flag on the bottom right hand corner allows kids to bookmark pages. Kids can tap on terms underlined in blue to access definitions. After reading the articles that explore the topic, the app prompts users to reflect, asking if “reading this topic has made you feel more or less anxious?” on a scale from one through five. Interactive features also include mini-quizzes that test knowledge on each of the topics. All pages of the articles can be shared to social media, emailed, texted or downloaded directly from the app by tapping on the share button on the top right corner.   

Is it any good?

Kids and teens will enjoy this easy to navigate news platform that presents data and sources relying on independent research (like the National Academies Press) that explore current hot topics. Each topic is presented using facts and the historical narrative that's often lost in the political hype, rousing headlines, and heated, publicized debates. The information is presented in a way that allows users to unpack complex issues without evoking or exploiting emotional reactions to persuade readers towards a specific point of view. There's definitely a tone of transparency, specifically illustrated by the disclosure of sources used to compose the information on each page of the articles. Rather than passively reading news, Sift – News Therapy encourages users to actively engage with information through fun little mini quizzes and interactive graphs, charts, and maps. There's an emphasis on learning more about a topic, exploring its history and its impact, rather than taking a side. It's worth noting, that app store reviews indicate some users feel the presentation is biased and left-leaning. However, there's no inflammatory language, hyperbole, or overt attempts to convince the user, which is helpful.

The articles are quite thorough, and the design of the interface is appealing and makes it easy to navigate the app. In order to take full advantage of the app, enjoy the articles alongside your kid. This will give families the opportunity to provide support in analyzing primary sources or data. Enjoying the app together will also encourage kids to ask questions and promotes discussion around these complex topics. Overall, Sift – News Therapy is an age-appropriate platform where kids can explore current hot topics, know the sources of information, and use it as a more measured way to come to their own conclusions.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the value of analyzing several sources of information and considering different perspectives in order to determine their own reactions when using Sift – News Therapy. It’s not always easy to make sense of all the headlines and heated publicized debates surrounding current topics and events, but around how media caters to its viewers, impacting what information is shared and how it is shared, is important. 

  • Talk about how to think through primary sources and how to analyze information presented on graphs or charts. 

  • Engage in conversations with kids around some of the complexities in difficult subjects, such as gun control and immigration. Ask open ended questions that help them think through the information they're reading and encourage them to ask questions as well. Talking about a hot topic in an objective way and navigating through some of the primary sources and data offered by the app can make the news less scary.  

  • Families can broaden discussion around current topics, such as global warming, by talking about helping and making a difference. Discuss how teens can take action by volunteering, participating in community events, or joining school clubs. 

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
  • Subjects: Language & Reading: reading, text analysis, vocabulary
    Math: graphing, statistics
    Social Studies: citizenship, cultural understanding, events, exploration, history, power structures, the economy, timelines
  • Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, asking questions, investigation, thinking critically
    Self-Direction: academic development
  • Price: Free to Try
  • Pricing structure: Free to try (auto-renewing subscription, $19.99/6 mo.)
  • Release date: April 18, 2019
  • Category: News
  • Size: 33.50 MB
  • Publisher: All Turtles Corporation
  • Version: 1.1.0
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 12.0 or later

For kids who love news and social studies

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