Toca Life: After School

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Toca Life: After School App Poster Image
Explore extracurriculars from art to sports via free play.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids learn about imagination, creativity, pretend play as they explore and create stories using different characters and scenes to practice role-playing and try on different identities. Record function allows them to build narratives.

Ease of Play

Gameplay is all about exploring and experimenting, which is easy to do. Sometimes it takes a few tries to pick up and/or place characters or items where you want them.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language

There's a bit of potty humor: Characters sit (clothed) on a toilet, make poop and fart noises, and flush the toilet.

Consumerism

There is a small icon on the home screen that takes users to ads for other Toca apps; a parent lock protects actual purchase. Parents can hide this icon in the settings menu on their device.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Toca Life: After School joins the Toca Life series of open-ended virtual play spaces. Kids move objects and characters around an after-school clubhouse building where they can take the elevator to visit four themed floors to paint, dance, play sports, or take a nap, among other things. There's an icon on the home screen that features weekly videos and silly facts about the Toca Life characters. In their device's settings menu, parents can turn off the music or hide the Weekly News and Toca news icons. Kids can record their voices as they move things around on the screen and save their stories to the device; for this, they'll need access to the microphone and the camera roll. A letter to parents explains the various aspects of the game and offers some ideas for parent-kid interaction. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your information is collected and shared.

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What's it about?

Come in out of the rain and let loose at the TOCA LIFE: AFTER SCHOOL clubhouse. Play is entirely open-ended and consists of kids moving around objects and up to 27 characters. Each of four floors offers a different activity to explore: a skate park, dance studio, art workshop, and sports court, plus extras like showers, snack bar, and nap area. Use the elevator to move from floor to floor and the video feature to record up to two minutes of a story.

Is it any good?

Kids can easily -- and virtually -- try out some new hobbies with this app-based activity set. Just like all the Toca Life apps, Toca Life: After School has no rules, no limits, and no instructions. Kids simply explore and discover as much or as little as they want. Toca Life: After School seems to have a few more interactive elements than some of the others in the series. Kids can paint, make music, swoosh a basketball through a hoop and keep track of points on a scoreboard, or send a skateboarder down a half pipe, for example. These small opportunities make the after-school clubhouse more interactive. Yet, since it's a digital world, kids don't have the limitless possibilities of traditional pretend play. Here they are constrained by what the programmers have written into the app. Occasionally, it's also difficult to manipulate the tiny pieces, getting them to go where you want, especially for kids with less fine-motor control. The Record option is a fun way for kids to tell, save, and share their stories.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the worlds kids create in Toca Life: After School. Ask questions about who different characters represent, what they're doing, and why.

  • Encourage offscreen pretend play with tea sets, dolls, stuffed animals, action figures, cardboard boxes, and more.

  • Let your kids experiment with a wide range of hobbies or extracurricular activities. Do they like to dance? Play sports? Make music? Help them find their passions. Just remember to give them time: Don't overwhelm them by trying everything out at once!

  • Discuss storytelling. If your kid wants to use the app to tell stories, encourage him or her to have a beginning, a middle, and an end and to use the recording feature in the app.

App details

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