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Toca Life: World

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Toca Life: World App Poster Image
Unite worlds in virtual creative play; many extras to buy.

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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 They can also learn more about real-world experiences like visiting a bank, working at a cafe, and being in an office. 

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
Consumerism

Small icon on the home screen takes users to videos and more advertising other Toca apps; a parent lock protects actual purchase. Parents can hide this icon in the settings menu on their device. The free download includes a decent amount of content, but with the shopping cart icon prominently displayed throughout the app, the push to purchase more is persistent.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Toca Life: World combines all the apps in the Toca Life series in one place. The free download comes with eight locations and 39 characters already installed. There's a large variety of in-app purchases -- ranging in price from $.99 to $3.99 -- to add more locations and characters, and the shopping cart icon is prominently displayed at all times. If you've already purchased other Toca Life apps you can import them into Toca Life: World for free. As with all the apps in the series, play is open-ended and involves kids moving characters and objects around different locations. Some areas have a record option that allows kids to record their voice as they move things around and narrate a story; for that option, the app asks for permission to access your device's microphone. Parents can turn off the background music, Toca News, Toca Mix, parents' information, video recording option, and access to shopping for in-app purchases by finding Toca Life: World in their device's settings menu. There's a bit of potty humor: Characters sit (clothed) on a toilet, make poop and fart noises, and flush the toilet. There's also poop in a litter box. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

Access all the Toca Life scenes in one TOCA LIFE: WORLD. Tap on any location -- post office, theater, or barbershop, for example -- to enter. Once in, add characters, change their clothes, interact with objects, then visit another location. Some locations allow you to record your voice and movements on the screen. Buy more locations and characters or add Toca Life apps you've already purchased directly through Toca Life: World.

Is it any good?

This seamless collection of locations, objects, and characters, for open-ended imaginative play is limited mostly by how much money you want to spend. Toca Life fans will love the opportunity to collect all their worlds in one place. It's easy now to pop into the stable, go on vacation, visit the hairdresser, and stop by the office. There's opportunity here to create a huge, interconnected world -- that is, if you want to pay for it. Those who've already bought apps in the Toca Life series have a decent head start, but even so growing this world requires a bit of an investment, which could make Toca Life: World feel like a push to buy, buy, buy. It's important to note that the developer included a way to turn off the shopping icon, which gives parents a great option for avoiding this pitfall. And though it looks great to keep adding to the world, there's actually a good deal of repetition across locations. Sure, there's different scenery and some different objects, but the essence of what's available in the school isn't all that different than what's available in the city, for example. Finally, the question remains open: Does the digital space really provide as rich an opportunity for pretend play, imagination, and role play a off screen forms of this most traditional type of play do?

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the narratives kids create in Toca Life: World. 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.

  • 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

  • Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android, Kindle Fire
  • Subjects: Language & Reading: storytelling
  • Skills: Creativity: imagination
  • Price: Free to try
  • Pricing structure: Free to try (additional content available through in-app purchases; prices range from $.99 - $3.99)
  • Release date: November 30, 2018
  • Category: Education
  • Size: 598.50 MB
  • Publisher: Toca Boca
  • Version: 1.2.1
  • Minimum software requirements: iOS 8.0 or later; Android 4.4 and up

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