Strawberry Shortcake Candy Garden

App review by
Dana Anderson, Common Sense Media
Strawberry Shortcake Candy Garden App Poster Image
Purchases pushed in magical garden not so sweet.

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A lot or a little?

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

Ease of Play

May not be easy for many kids to understand which elements of the game are included in the free version or require the in-app purchase; could make for confusing and frustrating gameplay, especially for younger players. 

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

Heavy on marketing to kids. There's a "More Apps" icon to tap on the screen where kids spend most of their time playing. If kids tap on it, they're taken to a page with lots of character apps (Barbie, Monster High, Hello Kitty, Thomas & Friends, and more) with an "Install" icon next to each. Tap "Install," and a protected, adults-only screen pops up prior to entering the App Store. Once the game is played a few times, an animated ad for other related apps by this developer plays, and kids must close the ad by tapping an "x" (or they can tap the replay icon, which is next to the "x," to replay the ad). Choices are so limited that the in-app purchase pack seems almost required to play this game more than once.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Strawberry Shortcake Candy Garden is a gardening-simulation app where kids garden candy and sweets instead of veggies and where in-app-purchase options and ads are prominently displayed. The concepts of gardening -- planting, watering, growing in sunlight -- are all here for kids to experience in an imaginary way by growing treats and decorating the land inhabited by Strawberry Shortcake and her friends, who are featured in many products. There's fairly limited content available for free, and there are pop-up ads for other apps such as Monster High; purchases are protected by a parent gate. Though the content is simple and seems like it's for little kids, the target age is 6–8, and the heavy purchase-pushing makes it for slightly older kids. Read the developer's privacy policy to find out about the types of information collected and how it's used. 

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What's it about?

STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE CANDY GARDEN begins with the app's cute namesake showing players how to plant treats in the garden. A hole is magically dug, and then kids choose what they want to grow: Four are free -- lollipop, gummy bear, donut, macaroon -- but others require a purchase. Then kids choose a flavor to add to the sweet "seed" (two free) and then swipe dirt over it. Kids are prompted to drag a cloud over the dirt to water the seed and drag the sun over it to give it light. It will grow and bloom, and then kids can add sprinkles and "gifts," such as a watering can, to the scene (some require an in-app purchase). After a plant has bloomed and the treats are placed into a basket, kids tap on them to help the characters eat them.

Is it any good?

If it weren't for all the pitches to purchase and ads for other apps directed at kids, this would be a cute -- albeit candy-focused -- diversion. Showing in-app purchase options right next to the free-version options is pretty aggressive advertising, especially because if kids try to use an object, flavor, or gift they haven't yet purchased, the app screen immediately switches to an "Unlock All" page. And unlocking all the content is no joke: It can run you up to $9.99. There's also a lot of advertising for other apps, including one animated ad kids must watch to reenter the free game after a certain number of game sessions. Also, though kids will love the idea of growing candy as wish fulfillment, some parents won't love the overt sugar focus. If your kids love Strawberry Shortcake, there are definitely better options available.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what kinds of foods are really grown in gardens and about healthy eating choices. How much sugar is too much?

  • Talk with your kid about your family's rules about in-app purchases.

  • Discuss the real plant-growth cycle that's shown on this app (planting, watering, sunshine, sprouting, budding), then plant and tend to a real seed in a glass jar where kids can watch it grow.

App details

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad
  • Price: Free
  • Pricing structure: Free to Try ($6.99-$9.99 in-app purchase to unlock all content)
  • Release date: January 20, 2016
  • Category: Entertainment
  • Topics: Science and Nature
  • Size: 99.40 MB
  • Version: 1.1
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 6.0 or later

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