Kids-n-Bids

Website review by
Leslie Crenna, Common Sense Media
Kids-n-Bids Website Poster Image
Educational concept relies on consumerism for motivation.

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Educational Value

Kids can learn facts through trial and error, including math calculation; language arts concepts such as rhyme, alphabetizing, and skip counting; science concepts such as sound, matter, and animals; and social studies concepts such as states, regions, and landforms. The overall learning approach is very conventional and lingers in the "information recall, drill, and memorization" zone. Kids would really benefit from better personalization and variety, and educational toys would complement the experience. Kids-n-Bids capitalizes on real-world rewards but fails to offer clear, engaging, and meaningful learning opportunities.

Positive Messages

Connection between learning, brand-name toys propels kids into a work-for-actual-pay world. Some may find this exciting; others might be turned off.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism

Although there are no ads on the site, toy auction drives develop consumer behavior in kids.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Kids-n-Bids is a basic skills-quiz site that takes an innovative approach to rewards by encouraging kids to bid in auctions for brand-name toys with their gameplay "goodles." Although earning goodles is easy and winning an auction isn't that hard, the overall experience might lead to frustration for parents and kids alike. The toys are essentially free -- if you can nab them -- but parents must buy a subscription for kids to play. The curriculum is suited for kids as old as 9, even though users can be described as 12, but kids younger than 6 may struggle if they can't read the directions. Some parents might be a bit wary of the concept and prefer not to introduce their kids to the world of consumer auctions. Others might see it as an interesting learning opportunity.

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What's it about?

With KIDS-N-BIDS, kids can choose from one of four subject areas: Language Arts, Science, Social Studies, or Math. They'll also be able to choose from grades 1 through 4 for the difficulty of a topic. The site offers 44 total activities, mostly focusing on multiple subject or fill-in-the-blank quizzes. A few games involve clicking on rising balloons, matching tiles, or doing Concentration-style puzzles. Kids get encouraging words upon each successful answer and a gentle deflating sound when they make a mistake. The more activities they complete, the more "goodle" points they receive, which can be used as a method to bid on real toys in auctions.

Is it any good?

The Kids-n-Bids concept sounds like a super effective way to motivate kids at first glance: Kids test their skills at different school subjects and, based on their play, earn points that can be redeemed for real toys. Unfortunately, the repetitive nature of the quizzes, noneffective leveling, and overall lack of genuine feedback and information really hamper this site. The science and social studies sections have good information, but kids would really benefit from the chance to read or hear about the material before being quizzed on it. For all sections, correct-answer feedback on mistakes with perhaps an explanation and some kind of report that tracks overall progress would help as well. As it stands, kids simply continually fill in answers and return to the main menu after every set. Comic characters (such as Moodles the host and Atchison K. Ferguson) are cute but flat, and the carnival theme song is bouncy, but it's the only one and you can't mute it.

Auctions are kid-friendly in some aspects but not all: Although a lot of items are offered, there's no explanation of what auctions actually are. Some deadlines are set in the middle of the night for most U.S. time zones and frequently shift without explanation. Plus, the "minutes left to bid" counter doesn't update without reloading the page. The missed opportunities are disappointing. Why not use the auction format to teach kids about time zones, adding and subtracting time, deadlines, and whether it's reasonable for adults to stay up late to bid in a kids' auction? Consumerism and learning aside, the auction experience of Kids-N-Bids will get kids' hearts racing, but it fails to deliver the anticipated excitement  -- until the toy arrives on the doorstep, of course.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about auctions. What is an auction? Why do adults have auctions? How does the time spent earning goodles match up with the value of the toys won?

  • Discuss the connection between learning and rewards. What kind of rewards make sense in a school setting? At home? Will getting toys as rewards affect kids' love of learning?

  • Compare traditional in-person auctions to online ones. How are they different? How are they the same?

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