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What's in the Oceans?

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
What's in the Oceans? App Poster Image
Dive into fun ocean exploration and subtle lessons.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about some of the animals and plants that live in the ocean. As they watch the animals interact with each other, they'll observe a limited number of aspects of ocean life such as food chain, reproduction. Some environmental messages around protecting the ocean. Kids will learn more with parental involvement.

Ease of Play

It's easy to tap around, but not all the exploration possibilities are immediately obvious.

Violence & Scariness

Some small red puffs when predators eat animals.

Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

Small icon on home screen takes users to ads for apps from the developer. A parent gate protects against actual purchase.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that What's in the Oceans? is an open-ended play space where kids can watch a variety of ocean life in different settings. Kids can choose from five ocean ecosystems, each with its own endless set of plants and animals to drag and drop into the water. Different things happen depending on what animals kids select, including predator animals chomping up prey and releasing some red clouds of "blood." There are some ocean lessons for kids to learn, such as the effects of climate change, overfishing, and pollution. But the lessons are very subtle, and kids will likely need significant involvement from parents to make any meaningful connections. The settings menu offers options to turn off the sound effects and background music, and to choose to read a brief summary of the app's learning philosophy in 17 languages. 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?

From the interior of a submarine, tap on one of five ocean settings in WHAT'S IN THE OCEANS? Each ecosystem has two scuba divers and a unique set of plants and animals; tap and drag them into the water to watch them interact. Find penguins, seals, orcas, and sheets of ice in the arctic South Pole or turtles and jellyfish near the shore. Watch as penguins or turtles lay eggs, dolphins get caught in the net of a fishing boat, and bigger animals eat smaller animals. Tap on the divers to see short live-action clips of ocean scenes.

Is it any good?

This open-ended ocean playground lets kids explore a range of marine life, even if the opportunities for meaningful interaction are limited. Five fun ocean ecosystems offer kids a different view of ocean life. But what kids actually do to interact with the app remains more or less the same across all five settings: Tap and drag the available plants and animals and watch what happens. There are a few exceptions, including gathering floating garbage to dump in a trash can, tapping on eggs to help hatch baby turtles or penguins, and raising the temperature in the arctic to watch the ice melt. These additions are great, but without in-app guidance or explanation so that kids really understand what they're doing, they'll need their parents help to provide context and meaning. It's not always easy to discover everything that can happen in the app, so kids may miss a lot. What's in the Oceans? is a cute way to gently introduce some ocean-themed topics, but if parents want to use it as an educational tool, they'll need to provide extra help.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the animals and ecosystems kids find in What's in the Oceans? What do the animals eat? How do they interact with each other? What is their habitat? Point out the different kinds of animals -- e.g., mammals, fish, crustaceans -- and discuss the characteristics of each.

  • Discuss the environmental messages the app introduces, such as climate change, overfishing, and pollution. What can your family do to help?

  • Find out more about ocean life by watching documentaries, reading books, and more.

App details

Themes & Topics

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For kids who love science and animals

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