Scratch

Website review by
Carla Thornton, Common Sense Media
Scratch Website Poster Image
Parents recommend
Graphical application gives kids a taste of programming.

Parents say

age 9+
Based on 25 reviews

Kids say

age 9+
Based on 214 reviews

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn to make their own animations, video games, art, and music videos with Scratch’s visual block-based form of computer programming. It may seem easy to stack blocks using commands such as "move 10 steps" or "turn 15 degrees," but kids can quickly learn valuable programming concepts like loops and conditionals, as well as bottom-up problem solving. Collaboration is encouraged, and fellow Scratch kids can give helpful comments on each other's projects. An incredibly clever intro to computer programming concepts, this site could use additional real-time support.

Positive Messages

The site consists mainly of tutorials and Scratch creations uploaded by users who want to show off their work. Most Scratch creations are crudely drawn (think South Park) but G-rated and occasionally quite clever.

Violence & Scariness

Some Scratch animations are reminiscent of The Simpson’s Itchy and Scratchy cartoon, with stick figures clobbering one another and spilling copious amounts of red Paintshop “blood.” Still, it's pretty tame stuff compared with your typical 3D shooter.

Sexy Stuff
Language

Some characters featured on the Scratch site talk smack, such as vowing to “kick butt” or kill each other.

Consumerism

This MIT-sponsored site is ad free.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this site teaches reasoning skills and a basic understanding of programming that will serve kids well no matter what their future occupation.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMolly1954 July 19, 2019

Great set up for pedophiles and bullies

My child was bullied by a classmate making mean comments. She told us about this after the bully told her to kill herself. The site ends up being used more like... Continue reading
Written byAnonymous August 5, 2020

good in early 2000's but not anymore

I grew up using this site in the early 2000's when it peaked with a fairly decent community. The Scratch application (v. 1.4) was pretty decent in teachin... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old July 13, 2016

Fine. Just don't talk to people.

Jeez. I don't understand this website anymore. They take everything SUPER serious, and you can get banned for the dumbest reasons. The coding stuff is amaz... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byEarlv March 28, 2016

Decent, easy coding site; stay away from the online community

I'm just going to say that this site is run by a group of stubborn, immature, over sensitive adults that have gotten too carried away with the strict rules... Continue reading

What's it about?

Scratch is a free, downloadable application that lets users combine graphics, photos, music, and sound to create simple interactive animations, games, and slide shows. Users create scripts by dragging and dropping graphical blocks that snap together like puzzle pieces. They can then post their creations on the Scratch site, where others can view and download them. This MIT effort is named after scratching, the technique hip-hop DJs use to create music by combining turntable manipulation with prerecorded clips and synthesizers.

Is it any good?

There are easier ways to create, say, an animated greeting card than to use a program like Scratch. Then again, most greeting card software doesn't attempt to teach programming like Scratch does. With building blocks divided into intuitive categories such as "motion" and "sound," older kids should be able to quickly knock together creations in which characters sing, dance, and talk.

Scratch is certainly easier to pick up than eToys, a similar visual programming app for kids. Where Scratch stumbles is in explaining variables, random numbers, and other mathematical concepts. Unless kids have already learned these in school, they'll need help in understanding and using them in Scratch. One other nit: Too many of the Scratch creations featured on the site load very slowly or not at all.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the benefits of mastering Scratch, a program that, despite a pretty good interface, will almost certainly overwhelm kids who are not mathematically inclined. Younger children especially will need adult assistance, both in getting started and understanding the program's most complex concepts.

Website details

Our editors recommend

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

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.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate