There’s always those moments in the day where I could really do with the kids being settled and quiet so I can get on with tasks such as cooking dinner without having to intervene with their shenanigans in the front room every 5 minutes. Screen time is a great way of grabbing some solid time for me to get things done – but it involves screen time. As always in our house I don’t mind screen time when screen time is used wisely and has some education benefit to it too. Sometimes though the kids to just want to watch TV shows though. Enter Hopster!
I’d heard of Hopster a few years ago but had not downloaded it on to any of my children’s apps previously. Why you might ask? Well, there are already plenty of kids tv apps out there and the vast majority of them are free. However I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Hopster was so much more than just a TV app. It’s full of educational games, stories and music too.
Who Is It For?
Hopster is designed for pre-school children ranging in age from 2-6. The interface is designed to be intuitive enough for children to use independently. The app can be used both online and offline – however we personally found the app far superior to use in online mode (see downloads below).
The Hopster menu is split into 8 different areas
- TV Shows
- Exploring Space
The interface is so simple that Brooke aged 4 was very easily able to navigate with no parental assistance needed. Brooke loves to be independent and the app has clearly been well thought out with enabling children to discover different areas for themselves
There’s a huge array of TV shows available including some of our firm family favourites (hello Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom!). The main screen for the TV shows is a giant volcano with 5 shows featured as piked by the content team. When you push on the volcano you are then taken to a screen where you can pick any of the available shows. The TV show section can only be accessed whilst online but shows can be downloaded separately.
When we reviewed the app there was a total of 10 games available to play. Brooke most enjoyed playing a game called Monster shapes. This involved matching shapes up to make a monster shape. Other games focussed on different areas such as counting, letters and making music. I have to say the games were not terribly challenging for Brooke so they didn’t keep her engaged for very long. I felt the content in games was better geared for my younger 2 year old daughter. That being said Brooke still enjoyed the content.
We found 15 lovely stories on the book section all from the publishers at Harper Collins. All of the ebooks can be downloaded for use offline. Once downloaded books can either be read to your child – or they can choose to read themselves.
The downloads section allows you to watch videos offline. Overall there was less selection available but still a quite a chunk of videos that you could pick to save on your device.
With the create section you can let the kids let loose with their creativity drawing pictures. I would have like d to have seen more special effects available such as stamps to add a bit of extra creativity to the selection available. Brooke however absolutely loved being able to take a picture of herself and other people to then draw over it. I’ve lost count of the number of pictures of me she drew with a rainbow beard!
There was also a fun section to take pictures of people’s faces and put them in funny situations – like being as astronaut or a bunny. I think this was Brooke’s favourite activity on the entire app. The entire create section of the app can be used offline
A new themed area added the month I am writing this review. From what I could understand after playing alongside Brooke this section of the app is a round-up of content from the TV section that all have the theme of space. This section was not available in offline mode. I was expecting additional content with a heavy emphasis on learning but found it to be more entertainment based. It was good way though to provide a focus on space and to later on explore some more space activities at home with your children.
This section of the app allows your child to pick a seed and grow their own plant. This didn’t hold my 4 year olds attention for long but my 2-year-old found it very entertaining. I feel as though this could have been grouped into the ‘Games’ section. It did however open up a really good dialogue for my 4 year old for us to go off and research more about the scientific background of growing plants.
The music section was very much enjoyed by both Brooke and Harper. There was a very good selection of songs that also had educational elements to them. To access this section you must be online.
To access the parents settings you need to tap a little green icon in the corner and then enter your year of birth. This is a great method of making sure the kids don’t get into the settings by accident.
Once in the settings you can access a very helpful FAQ as well as a help section for if you get stuck on the app. There is also further information all about how Hopster have carefully selected the content to meet your childs early educational needs. If you’re lucky enough to have an apple tv then you can also restrict viewing times too.
I feel it’s also imperative to know that once downloaded you cannot delete a show yourself. Any downloaded content remains on your device for 7 days and is then automatically deleted. For me this is a handy feature as it means I don’t have to keep track of the downloads myself.
How Much does it cost?
It’s also important to know that this a subscription app costing as little as £3.67 a month, although a free trial is also available. Subscriptions can be cancelled at anytime via your account online, iTunes or Google account depending on where you signed up to the service. Once you have a subscription it can be used on as many devices as you want – which is especially handy if you have more than one child.
The Hopster website where you can update all your account detail is really easy to navigate and has a great search tool for trying to find answers to any questions you may have.
What Did We Think
Overall I was impressed with how well laid out the app was as well as how bright and inviting the graphics were. Brooke mostly enjoyed the create content provided and had no problems navigating around the app independently. As always though I feel app time is best spent with a parent to get the most out of the educational side of the content. With the learning side of the app we were able to carry on our learning of both space and growing after our screen time.
We did have some issues with the app itself – in particular after every single time we played the sharing game we went to a black screen. The only way to leave this was to force quit the app and relaunch it. I’ve reported this to Hopster which was quick and easy to do. If you need to contact them you can get them on Facebook, Twitter or email them.
Although Brooke enjoyed parts of the app I really felt my 2-year-old was more engaged with it. The upper age ranges such as 5 and 6 year olds would enjoy the tv entertainment side of the app but for Brooke she lost interest in the games fairly quickly as she found them very easy. I feel it is however a great ad free tv app that allows you complete safety of mind as a parent that the kids wont end up watching content you don’t want them too, with the added bonus of some educational content built-in. When I’m at the point of giving my youngest more screen time allowance Hopster shall be my choice of app for her.
Where Can I Purchase The App