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What's it about?
ZEPETO is a free social media app that lets you create a 3D digital character (called a Zepeto) from a picture of yourself and share it on social media. Auto-generated characters can be customized with a series of menus and sliders that let you alter things like hair style/color, face shape, eye shape/color, and clothing style. New users start with a handful of simple items and are encouraged to unlock/buy more with in-app currency. Currency is earned by playing a simple mini-game, or can be bought with real-world cash. In-app ads encourage users to visit the item shop, which carries a range of vanity items (clothing, hairstyles, accessories) as well as furniture, flooring, and wall décor for each avatar's custom “home.” Completing “Quests” (watching ads) also unlocks items. You can follow and “like” other Zepetos, search for Zepetos via friend code, follow Zepetos suggested by the app, or “meet” other Zepetos in a place called “Z Street.” Built-in screenshot and video tech lets you take pictures and videos of your Zepetos and share them through social media.
Is it any good?
Upgrading your virtual self with stuff is irresistible to many and fun for some, but the ads, purchases, and chat with strangers makes it best for older teens. This simple app is a “gimme” as far as social media popularity goes. Like other character-creation apps, it lets users create perfect fantasy versions of themselves in digital 3D and customize them with heaps of digital items, which allows for some degree of creativity. And it's definitely cute with appealing graphics and some entertainment value. Though using 3D avatars for online ID could be safer for your kids than using actual photos of themselves, it could also help them misrepresent themselves online -- and let others do the same. Since the app's main thrust is sharing images and videos of avatars on social media, this could definitely be an issue. Parents could also object to the app's emphasis on representation and item collection, since it encourages status-seeking and materialism. The desire to collect followers and “likes” with fancy custom avatars could push kids to buy, thus obsessively playing the currency mini-game to earn in-app gold or pestering parents for real-world cash. An in-app Quest system is meant as a means of earning currency, but the system is broken as of this writing. Until the system's fixed, users are pushed to watch ads. Unfortunately, in addition to the Quest system, other parts of the interface are also broken or only partially functional. Parents might not love the idea of their kids watching ad after ad, and the app's anonymous Follow function and direct messaging might not thrill them either. All told, it's an imperfect but entertaining app that's best for older teens if you know how -- and how much -- your kids are using it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Discuss internet safety and talking to strangers online in apps like Zepeto. What kind of information should you never share online? Why is it risky to talk to strangers online?
Families can talk about "keeping up with the Joneses." How important is social status to your kids, and how connected is it to material things?
Think about how your kids' online personas. What are the possible consequences of misrepresenting yourself online?
Talk about in-app purchases and the temptation to buy more features. What are your rules and limits?
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
- Price: Free
- Pricing structure: Free (with ads and optional in-app purchases)
- Release date: November 21, 2018
- Category: Social Networking
- Size: 126.80 MB
- Publisher: SNOW Corporation
- Version: 2.3
- Minimum software requirements: iOS 9.0 or later; Android 5.1 and up
For kids who love sharing their creativity on social media
Our editors recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.