WWF Free Rivers

App review by
Dana Anderson, Common Sense Media
WWF Free Rivers App Poster Image
Beautiful AR scenes show ugly reality facing global rivers.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Learn about river ecosystems, gain global awareness (farming, animal habitats, energy production).

Ease of Play

Easy to use, once users find a flat-enough surface. Clear written and verbal instructions. Bright blue icon shows users where to tap next. Tap on written explanations to increase size of text.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that WWF Free Rivers explains -- through the use of augmented reality (AR) -- why free-flowing rivers are important to humans, animals, and the environment. Created by the World Wildlife Fund, this app gives kids a birds-eye view of habitats, such as a river basin, a rainforest, and a mountain region. As kids explore the AR view, a narrator explains how river dams affect farming, animals, and human inhabitants. The landscape adjusts as changes to the free-flowing rivers affect the surrounding lands. The narrator also discusses solutions, which gives WWF Free Rivers a more hopeful than catastrophic vibe, despite the challenges rivers face globally. Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the types of information collected and shared.

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What's it about?

To play WWF FREE RIVERS, allow the app to access your camera to use the AR features. Then listen to the intro about why it's important for WWF to save free-flowing rivers. Point your device down on a flat surface and rotate and pinch/expand the scene to fit your screen. For more details, tap on the blue icon. Listen to the narrator explain what you're viewing and why it's important to understanding free-flowing rivers and related issues. 

Is it any good?

Kids can get a unique perspective on global river ecosystems as they view them through this eye-catching AR app. WWF Free Rivers' excellent narrator and clear visuals help kids learn about free-flowing rivers and how dams can change rivers and the ecosystems around them. Kids also learn about hydroelectric and other forms of power, and how changing rivers affects ecosystems, food supplies, animals, and human societies globally. While global river problems may seem like a major downer, WWF Free Rivers' beauty coupled with its narrator's hopeful tone and positive solutions keep this topic light enough for kids to absorb the information without feeling hopeless. Plus, it's a beneficial use of augmented reality that helps kids learn in a fresh way.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how WWF Free Rivers connects the health of rivers, ecosystems, animals, and humans. In what other ways is human well-being connected to the well-being of animals, land, and water on Earth?

  • Talk with your kid about the different habitats shown on WWF Free Rivers. Which one is most interesting to them? Why? Follow their interest and help them find out more about that particular habitat and the animals and people who live there.

  • Check out Common Sense Media's Best Biology Games, Apps, and Websites for Kids list to find more digital resources for kids about life on Earth in all its forms.

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