Toca Life: Pets

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Toca Life: Pets App Poster Image
Open-ended play with animals in virtual pet paradise.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about imagination, creativity, and pretend play as they explore and create stories using the different characters and scenes to practice role-playing and try on different identities. They'll stretch their imaginations and feel totally in charge as they explore and manipulate everything on the screen. They'll also practice storytelling and presentation skills if they record their own voices narrating scenes.

Ease of Play

Picking up some of the smaller items requires good fine-motor skills.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language

Pets deposit urine and little mounds of poop.

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: Pets is part of the Toca Life series of open-ended, dollhouse-style pretend play apps. Kids can make up stories as they freely explore five locations, including a pet hotel and the vet's office, all bursting at the seams with pets of all kinds. The video button allows kids to record up to two minutes of their voice as they move things around on the screen. Videos can be shared and saved to the camera roll. Parents must allow the device to access the microphone and camera roll for this feature to work. The parents' section includes some tips for encouraging discussion and an overview of the app. Visit the settings menu on your device to turn off the sound or to hide the For Parents or Toca News icons. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your information is collected and shared.

User Reviews

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What's it about?

Enter TOCA LIFE: PETS and choose one of five locations: pet park, pet hotel, veterinary office, pet shop, or breeder's bungalow. Each location has dogs, cats, birds, fish, and other domestic -- and nondomestic -- animals. Kids move the animals and the many props around as they tell stories and explore. Tap the Record button to create short videos, including your own voice narrating the action on the screen.

Is it any good?

Kids' love of animals and pretend play get combined in this pet-centric open-ended world. As with all apps in the Toca Life series, there are no rules, no time limits, and no instructions. Kids simply fire up their imagination as they enter a virtual space filled with pets -- as well as some decidedly non-pet-like animals. There's an abundance of cats and dogs, but kids can also interact with some silly choices like an owl or a hedgehog. Most animals make a fun little animal sound when you pick them up. There's a bit more potty humor in Toca Life: Pets than in other titles in the series: Pets leave lots of poop and pee in litter boxes and other areas. Though there are plenty of props to move around and environments to explore, the most interactive kids can get is perhaps dumping animals in the mud to get them dirty and then in the water to clean them off. And, 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 with Toca Life: Pets. Do the animals and characters have names? What's their story?

  • Read the letter from the developer for some insight into what the app has to offer and how to accompany your kids' play.

  • Talk about your own family pets, or other animals your kids may know. Discuss the special relationship kids have with their pets. Also, encourage kids to use their imaginations and get silly. Can you imagine what life is like for little Rover? Do you think Fluffy calls over all his friends for a cat party when the humans leave the house?

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

App details

Themes & Topics

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