Children nowadays aren’t born with a golden/silver spoon; they are born with a smartphone in their hands. Thus, the aptitude of coding and programming comes naturally to them, and kids as young as 7 can learn and master coding.
But how? There are some complex concepts involved; how will a child grab it all? Hopscotch, a free iPhone and iPad programming app, can help; it offers bite-sized lessons that make grasping the basics a breeze.
So this week, I have decided to test the Hopscotch app and see how well-built, kid-friendly, and safe it is for the young ones. Read on to see how the app fares on the AK Meter!
Hopscotch iPhone app review: Coding simplified for all ages
Designed for children between ages 10-16, Hopscotch is a free-to-use app that helps kids learn to code. Furthermore, it gives them an open field to develop their games, apps, and animations.
Interestingly, the app employs an object-oriented programming language. The user, or shall I say the young developer, has to drag and drop colorful blocks of code to build routines.
Although I knew about the app a bit, Hopscotch CEO Samantha John’s presentation in the Shark Tank (S12, E15) caught my attention, especially since I was looking for a women-led/developed apps for March in honor of women’s history month.
Let’s meet the co-founders of Hopscotch
In 2011, a former teacher Jocelyn Leavitt was getting tired and irritated by students’ addiction to games. So, as any good parent or teacher would do, she thought to gamify the learning slyly.
She teamed up with Samantha John, a software engineer who loves programming, and looked forward to introducing the skill to every kid. And we got Hopscotch, a platform that not only lets them play tons of games but also pushes and tricks them into creating their own.
You can read more about these ladies and the Hopscotch team. Now, let’s get back to reviewing the app.
How Hopscotch breaks down the complexities of coding
Before we move on, I have a confession to make! I am not a coding expert, surely know the basics but nothing beyond that. By virtue of my job, passion for apps, and the young kid inside my 30-something body, I deem myself the perfect candidate to test and review Hopscotch.
Jokes apart! Not knowing how to code has worked in my favor, at least in this case, because I could genuinely be that overexcited kid who is unlocking some new skills. All the while judging the app for its user-friendliness, UI, content, and more.
An introduction to Hopscotch
The main page of the app is pretty basic, almost colorless. However, the moment you enter the learning or the community area, colors start to flow in by dozen.
A similar pattern can be observed in the ‘Editor,’ where all the action happens. It starts with a plain graph-paper background, and you can add colorful characters, shapes, text, photos, and more.
And though it sounds melodramatic, it indeed feels like the app gives a clean slate, and you can fill it any way you want.
It’s easier with side by side tutorials
A definite plus point of the app is its tutorials. They are simple, interactive, engaging, and inspiring. Usually, learning apps have video tutorials to teach you what to do and leave you to do it; but Hopscotch adopts a hands-on learning concept.
The tutorials or the coding kit use a PiP screen format, the Editor in the background, and a video in the foreground. As the video covers each process step-by-step, you are encouraged to do the same.
I must say, the simultaneous learning process is quite effective! The videos aren’t too fast-paced, and there are specially incorporated pauses to give you space for fun and exploration. And what I especially love is that it doesn’t stop at basics.
Hopscotch offers a wide coding curriculum and covers topics like how coding works, game components, animations, simulation, and more in detail.
Rules that give you freedom
In coding, you add rules that define how an object will interact with other objects and the user. I was surprised by the sheer number of options Hopscotch offers.
Moreover, you can also create custom rules as and when you start mastering the art of coding. I was beyond excited to see all these possibilities. Just imagine what a kid with endless, fearless visualization can build with such tools.
Hats off to the vast community for support and inspiration
Amazingly, you don’t have to go too far to see the ‘possibilities’ in action. Hopscotch boasts a built-in community in the app. Here you can observe some masterpieces created by other users.
After a walk through the gallery, you might have to pinch yourself to remind that the user base of Hopscotch is majorly kids between the age of 8 – 18. Children these days are way more intelligent than us, for sure!
Is Hopscotch safe for kids?
The most important question of all, I guess. The giant world of the internet is undoubtedly helpful, but it can be brutal and dangerous, especially if there is a community of people involved.
And I am glad that the Hopscotch developers have thought about both privacy and security. This doesn’t need your kid’s name; in fact, it encourages them to log-in with a pseudo name. It doesn’t demand phone numbers or other details, just the parent’s email ID to register.
Furthermore, there is no comment option in the community, no DMs, follow, or friend requests. And while this may sound limited or restricting, it saves your child from unnecessary bullying and peer pressure.
And though I haven’t come across inappropriate content in the community, I read something about that in user review on commonsensemedia.org. So, I will advise some parental vigilance while the kid is using the app.
Did Hopscotch make AK Appy or Unappy?
Quite Appy! And I might be slightly late to the party, but coding could become my jam. At least that’s what Hopscotch makes me think. Hopefully, kids way younger than me would feel the same.
I love how the app is packed with fun but no-nonsense! It seamlessly combines playtime, learning, and interaction. And not just kids, Hopscotch even teach a 30-something tech enthusiast the basics of coding and programming (couldn’t master the art in just a week!)
If you are a parent or teacher and your kids/students are computer-savvy, game lovers, or keen learners, Hopscotch is a must-try app. While the app’s major sections are free to use and thankfully ad-free, some features are locked with a premium subscription of $7.99/month and $39.99/year.
Accessibility for kids:
What is #Appyweek with AK?
#AppyWeek with AK is a unique series hosted by me, Arshmeet Kaur, aka AK! I love exploring apps to see how they can make our day-to-day life better and help my readers understand an app better and decide whether they should download or skip it.
Every week I pick an app and dedicatedly test it to explore every feature. At the end of seven days, I share my honest experience with you all. If this sounds interesting to you, join me on my journey.
I will see you next week with another app; till then, enjoy these previous editions:
- App of the Week: Life Lapse Stop Motion Maker (Mar 5-11, 2021)
- App of the Week: Wysa – Mental Health Support (Feb 26-Mar 4, 2021)
- App of the Week: Notion – Notes, projects, docs (Feb 19-25, 2021)
A self-professed Geek who loves to explore all things Apple. I thoroughly enjoy discovering new hacks, troubleshooting issues, and finding and reviewing the best products and apps currently available. My expertise also includes curating opinionated and honest editorials. If not this, you might find me surfing the web or listening to audiobooks.