This American Life

App review by
Carla Thornton, Common Sense Media
This American Life App Poster Image
Radio show podcasts contain 15-year slice of American life.

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 3+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

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

Ease of Play

Easy to browse. List show titles and descriptions chronologically, by contributor, or by hot-button issues. You can also search for specific words, but this will only find matches in descriptions, not the transcript of the show itself, unfortunately.


Some shows feature interviews with people who have experienced violence. In "Guns," victims talk about the sights and sounds of a Texas restaurant shooting that left 23 dead.


Sex-related topics are treated with balance and empathy. "How to Talk to Kids" features how Americans teach their kids about sex.


There are no ads. However, each show listing includes an "Own It" iTunes link. (You can listen for free but downloaded shows cost 99 cents apiece.) The app also includes trailers for a dozen half-hour Showtime specials that aired in 27 and 28. These TV shows cost $1.99 apiece to download or $1.99 for a season.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

At least one show features interviews with recovering alcoholics.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this app is a complete archive of the popular hour-long public radio show. The content occasionally touches on violence, sexual practices and other adult themes.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 8, 12, and 15-year-old Written byEmily Esch May 13, 2010

The ap is great, and the show is better.

The app itself is absolutely the best. Super easy to browse and find any TAL episode you're looking for.

The content of the radio show that the app suppo... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byWell17 May 2, 2013

You Should Listen to it

I don't have the app, but I love the radio show. NPR shows really expose how life really is, which you should show to your kids. They did a really good s... Continue reading

Is it any good?

Public broadcasting at its best, This American Life has entertained with topical and personal-essay broadcasts since 1995. This app, which collects all 400-plus hour-long radio shows under one roof and automatically adds new ones each week, is a treasure trove. A kind of audio version of 60 Minutes, each show explores an aspect of American life via issues or interesting individuals, some famous but most of them regular people, including kids. There are episodes on bullying, babysitting, and a bonus Showtime program on kids trying to learn standup comedy.

App details

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