When we were asked to cover an Animal Jam Review, 8yr old Bear might have squeaked in joy and demanded we say yes NOW please and can she have the code NOW please, and do we have the code yet please, and she play NOW please…
We LOVE Animal Jam!
We’ve been reviewing for a month… well, when I say ‘we’, I actually mean 8yr old Bear. But she really properly loves it. And I love it for a number of reasons. Firstly – it’s by National Geographic Kids. Which means we have the reliability and trust of a great brand, but also there’s a huge education elements inside the game, and it’s packed full of videos and facts that they can’t help but absorb as they play.
Secondly, safety is key. I’m happy to leave her pootling around in the community, content that she’s safe and monitored while she’s having fun (the raucous shrieks of giggles on Skype tell me that her friends enjoy it just as much as she does).
So – enough from me – here’s what Bear thinks, in her own words:
What’s the most fun thing in Animal Jam?
Well, lots of people have lots of other ideas, but if I had to choose one, it’d be Changing Animals. If you’re a Member, you can get all the animals (Some cost Diamonds, you get one diamond every Tuesday – I think it’s Tuesday or maybe Wednesday and maybe a lot more Diamonds in the weekly spin). My time in Animal Jam is a bit short – I think it’s going to run out soon.
What makes you want to play again tomorrow?
Well, there’s lots of answers to that. But if I had to choose just ONE, I’d choose the adventures. The adventures have phantoms. Phantoms are like spiders, but only a bit different, and, they only have ONE EYE. They are a bit surprising when I’m on one mission, The Hive.
The Hive is a Really Dark Place and the phantoms are completely BLACK. And so is the darkness. So all you can see is their eye. Freaky if you think about it.
What do you Not like about it?
Um, there’s not much to NOT like….Well I do not like ONE animal, and that’s it….Koala. The Koala’s in this game are quite weird to me. I don’t know why. But I just Do Not Like Them.
Three Words You’d Use To Describe It
It Is Amazing!
Do You Feel Safe?
It Is A Safe Game, such a safe game.
My friend’s little sister (a 4 year old) loves the game.
I feel safe – Yes. Always.
Do You Meet New People + Chat?
Yes, I do, actually. But on Animal Jam, because it’s safe, it doesn’t allow some words on it. They only allow SAFE words, which is nicer. Some Minecraft servers I’ve been on don’t do that, and I don’t like the chat on those.
Bear has been a bit foot-stampy that her review membership has expired now – she misses it already. But at its roots Animal Jam is a free-to-play game; no longer having a membership doesn’t mean she’s no longer got access; it’s just that there are membership benefits that will be mothballed until we get around to paying for a new month.
The Animal Jam world is huge, and there are always lots of other members online to play with. Obviously they’re anonymous, but your child can share usernames with real-life friends and meet them in the various worlds, as well as making new online friends (or simply to go exploring on her own!).
As a parent, I love Animal Jam. I like that it is free to play as a fully immersive game – there’s absolutely no need to pay for membership to still thoroughly enjoy the games and the community. And even the membership isn’t a bank-breaker – a single month is only £3.95. For me that’s totally bargainous.
The monitoring is excellent – the people behind Animal Jam are dedicated to making sure everyone behaves themselves and that dodgy content never reaches your child’s eyes. I like the simplicity of the button at the top of the screen where players can report other players for perceived infractions, or unhappy behaviour.
The educational component is wonderful – my daughter is constantly surprising me with what she knows about foxes and badgers.
The Parent Dashboard is excellent. I trust my daughter, and I’m confident that she knows the rules to staying safe online. But she’s also only 8… and sometimes gets things wrong, with even the best of intentions. Animal Jam’s parent dashboard allows me to see what she’s doing, keep an eye on her level of engagement, and to see if she’s been reported by anyone else so we can talk it over.
All in all, Animal Jam is fabulous for 5-11yr olds – we totally recommend it.