Star Darlings

App review by
Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Media
Star Darlings App Poster Image
Music shines in otherwise lackluster interactive book.

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A lot or a little?

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

Ease of Play

Kids have to read the story on their own, but they can answer as many times as necessary to get the correct answer on quizzes.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

Heavily cross-marketed with videos, books, and toys. Requires in-app purchase to unlock content.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Disney's Star Darlings ties in with a wide variety of products, including books, toys, and videos featuring the 12 Star Darlings, girls who were chosen to be wish-granters but must keep their powers secret. The girls are in training for their wish-granting jobs and sing in a band together. The app includes a music video of their song "Wish Now" and interactive, choose-your-own-response stories for each character. The video and one part of one story is included; the rest require an in-app purchase. Kids also can scan their Star Darling dolls to unlock content. Note that, though there is some diversity represented, each character's look is essentially the same: thin and conventionally pretty.

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What's it about?

The 12 Star Darlings are in training at Starling Academy to become wish-granters and travel to Wishworld. Kids can read their backgrounds, dress them up, and then walk through a day in the life with them, making decisions in an interactive adventure. They also receive virtual text messages from their teacher throughout the day, quizzing them on their studies, and there's a glossary of Wishworld's terminology. Kids can scan in a Star Darling doll or unlock a Star Darling through an in-app purchase. The free download includes part one of Sage's adventures and a music video.

Is it any good?

Though the colorful characters are delightful and the music fabulous, the actual play involved falls flat. For an interactive story, there’s very little interaction. The characters don’t move, and there’s no interaction with the environment. For a choose-your-own-adventure story, kids’ input doesn’t have much of an impact on the action. Stars appear after any answer, but those don’t do anything either. Compound all that with the in-app purchases involved, and these wishes become both frustrating and boring. Aside from the actual gameplay -- which is more of a promotional venture for other products -- the message is potentially muddled, as wishes are nice but don't do much to foster the real skills it takes to make things happen. It could be, however, that the story will address effort and persistence as it develops.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about wishes. What would they wish for? Whom do they think has the power to grant that wish? What might be more effective than wishing?

  • Ask kids which Star Darling's story they most relate to. Why?

  • Set expectations for in-app purchases before downloading.

App details

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