Cupcake Digital has released a new iOS app for iPhone and iPad that may change the way you use your iPad. NetKids Digital Entertainment Network app is a subscription based app that allows your children to explore child-safe content (for those age 10 and under) in an unlimited format including storybooks, activities and stand alone apps. Brands represented in NetKids include: The Smurfs, Peanuts, Strawberry Shortcake, Rio, Sid the Science Kid, Biscuit, Thomas & Friends, Jim Henson’s Pajanimals, Baby Genius, Cool School. The best part? Once you download the app, everything is on your device so no need to use up data or try to find wi-fi so your child can check out the storybooks or apps. The app provides updates on a weekly basis, which are automated when you are connected to wi-fi. This app is best for preschool through about age 10 depending on the types of activities your child likes and their reader level. The app includes a free seven day trial so you can try it before you buy it to see if it will be a good fit for your family.
My son loves apps from Cupcake Digital so I gave him my iPad Mini to give the app a spin, two hours later he brought it back and said, Mom you have to check this out! I did some reading (Peanuts), watched a video (Sid) and listened to a couple of more stories. My favorite part – there are no external links with the exception of setting up the subscription and the apps and information are child safe and appropriate for my son. The app has a parental gate which requires you to put in your birth year to access iTunes and there is no splash screen in between. For younger kids, I would suggest guided access or sitting with them when using the device the first time. The app really reminded me a bit of Netflix but instead of movies, there was a ton of great content that was age appropriate for my son and he could access on his own without internet. This is the perfect app for a flight, long car trip or a time when you know that you will need access to an app without having to worry about getting on wi-fi. I liked the highlighted text for the books and as an emerging reader, the highlighted books and narration were helpful to have my son follow along. I also liked that one subscription meant you could use it on multiple devices using the restore feature which would be nice for someone with multiple children and multiple devices.
In terms of improvements, the “auto renew” portion of the subscription can be a bit cumbersome. When I try something out for the first time I always want to try it before I “buy” without worrying about renewal. I turned it off, and found that a question popped up which caused me to turn it back on. I would prefer the question to be, “Do you want to turn off auto-renew? That means that the content will NOT automatically renew”. I’d also like to see a way to curate the app for specific age ranges – for example my older son wasn’t interested in all of the characters, and like Netflix for kids he just scrolled by. It would be nice if there was a way to turn on and off content based on your child and what you want them to be able to see. I’d also like to see more content included, but with time the library of items will grow in the app. Perhaps a “parent” section can mention the new items that are coming, as well as upcoming enhancements.
A few notes, I would suggest turning off cellular data for the app when letting your child use it so they do not run up charges. In addition, I opened up a bunch of items before I let my son use the iPad so he wasn’t disappointed that they had not loaded to our iPad. I’d like to see a more clear description of the renewal process and what that means and how to easily turn it off in settings.
Overall, this is a great way to provide a digital library to your child without a huge upfront investment. This app gives a comprehensive suite of apps, books, short videos that will keep your kids entertained and learning. It was enough for me to tap the “renew” button and let my son have access to it on an ongoing basis.
NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.
NetKids Digital Entertainment Network for Kids
by CUPCAKE DIGITAL INC
NetKids offers unlimited entertainment for kids! You’ll find fun games and activities, parent approved videos, and narrated stories—all within a safe, ad-free environment! Kids will be able to watch.