How Toca TV Works
Toca TV is an app that allows your kids to view videos that have been screened by people and deemed appropriate for kids. The service claims to screen out apps that contain either advertising or offensive content. This library of videos contains content created by Toca Boca, as well as videos licensed from 75 independent video creators and companies (such as BroadbandTV, DreamworksTV, AwesomnessTV, and Studio71.)
The service has thousands of videos, which vary in length from approximately 2-5 minutes. Kids can access the content in three ways: by scrolling through suggested videos on the main screen, by pulling open the right-side search area to locate content via 10 abstruse categories, or by creating a favorite playlist after watching videos from the previous two methods.
Toca TV also provides kids with the ability to film their own short videos (about 30 sec) and then save them to their playlist. To help with this creative process, the app provides 13 silly filters superimposed on the camera screen. The filters do things like making it look as though you are filming inside a monster's mouth or having an ice cream cone randomly drop into the scene you are filming.
A video-streaming service such as Toca TV is only as good as the videos it selects to show your kids. Toca Boca's focus is on finding and displaying fun videos for kids that inspire them to play and be creative. Kids will find homemade movies by kids using Stickbots, Legos, Minecraft, and more. There are inspirational videos about creating fantastic Rube Goldberg-like machines, conducting science experiments, and learning to draw, bake, and do origami or nail art. Silliness shows up in most of the videos, including a Toca-created one about not mixing up an animated mustache with an animated eyebrow.
Another important aspect of this kind of app is how it delivers the videos. The main screen player is easy to use, as kids see the video library as a scrollable stack. Allowing kids to save favorite videos to a playlist is a big plus. Unfortunately, when you pause a video to check something else on your device or go to soccer practice, the app doesn't remember the pause, and the video simply starts again at the beginning.
The searchable categories are a little hit-and-miss. Since the icons don't easily associate with a category, kids will have to experiment. For example, the "poop" icon (which looks a little like soft-serve ice cream) represents the editor's choice selection. That category houses fascinating marble machines and a humorous video about four boys dressed up as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles taking turns farting in an elevator (as a mother of two boys, I can attest that some kids will find this hilarious). The easiest icons to understand are a musical note for music and the scissors for DYI projects.
Offering kids tools to make their own videos is inspired. The natural response after seeing a clever video created by kids is to want to try your hand at being a director. Toca TV makes filming videos easy, and its hilarious filters help the reluctant film creators get started.
Toca Boca claims to be a gatekeeper that doesn't allow commercialism when screening videos appropriate for kids 5 to 9. There are no ads; however, we found several videos that displayed logos from McDonalds, Skittles, and other brands. And obviously, Toca Boca's own branded characters and apps are prominently shown -- but we give them a pass for that, since this is their app.
The Bottom Line
Is this service delivering the best of YouTube for your children? No. Toca Boca is filtering to show kids what they think is funny and creative. Their filter leaves out a wealth of educational videos that are also entertaining. In other words, your kids will see amazing cat videos, but they aren't going to learn about bald eagles, the environment, or world cultures.
Another feature missing from Toca TV
is parental controls that would allow parents to set the amount of time their kids can watch videos. Many parents need help fighting excessive video-watching by their kids. Also, this service only works when you are connected to the Internet, so this isn't the app to use while on an airplane.
What Toca TV
does well is to provide kids with ad-free, age-appropriate, entertaining videos. It's better than YouTube Kids, and not quite as good as Wizard School
If your kids like the Toca Boca apps, they are going to like the more than 50 videos showcasing characters from those apps and original videos reflecting Toca Boca's fun, whacky humor. And there are a lot of videos that might inspire your kids to become creators, just like the kids in the videos they watch. Here's my advice: download it for free and have your kids try the three play sessions you get before having to pay. If your kids are tickled, try the subscription service for a month for $4.99. But turn off the auto-renew and watch to see if this app is used, before deciding to renew it for a longer time.
Since Duck Duck Moose has a similar video delivery app that is free, we suggest you also check it out. We rated Wizard School
(formerly "WonderBox"), higher than Toca TV
because its video collection is both fun and educational, and it has a unique way of letting kids interact with others. It too motivates your kids to become creators.
This Toca TV app review was written by Jinny Gudmundsen.
All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.