Toca Boca and kids’ apps



Cover pic by Katherine Rose for the Observer.

I went to Stockholm for the Observer with my seven-year-old to test-drive the world’s best-selling kids’ apps for three- to five-year-olds, Toca Boca. It’s a pretty impressive outfit, run by a publishing house set up in 1804 and with an eye on the long-term – instead of on a fast buck. I’m still not convinced they have any educational merit but they definitely match with Google’s aim – “do no harm”.

Extract: [Company founder] Jeffery explains that it is just supposed to be fun. Nothing more, nothing less. Toca Boca divides children’s activities into five categories: active play (sport), make-believe, manipulative play (building stuff), creative play (drawing) and learning play (books and games). “Most children like all five types of play. But then you look at the app store and think: ‘How is it addressing these types of play?’ Everything in the app store is in the last category – games and books. But that’s how adults play. It’s Candy Crush, basically.”


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