App Reviewed on: iPad 3
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Dr. PetPlay is a new app for iPad that my son has really been enjoying recently. This app allows him to pretend to be a veterinarian; taking care of the stuffed animals he has and oftentimes performing surgery and other medical procedures. Dr. PetPlay opens up to a choice of ten animals including a cat, bird, elephant, monkey, and two kinds of dinosaurs. Although not all animals are included, most of his stuffed toys can fit into one of these choices such as our panda, who resembles a bear enough to easily be worked into this game play.
After choosing, one can personalize the medical chart of the plush patient; including the chance to take a picture as well as enter name and basic facts about the creature such as sex, age, and weight. Do check off symptoms such as whether the animal is eating, drinking, sleeping, or climbing, as well as how the animal is feeling and where the issue may lie; including eyes, ears, nose, and mouth. While other role-playing apps aim for whimsy, Dr. PetPlay is more focused on age-appropriate realism for young children, which I enjoy as this app is played straight - allowing children to access this medical information that also includes an x-ray of the basic skeleton of the chosen animal that can be drawn on, circling trouble spots that a child may find, as well as expanding sections of this film with the tap and the drag of a finger. Some basic vitals of the animal are also offered, including the temperature and heartbeat that can be altered up or down with the drag of a finger to demonstrate a patient becoming sicker or excited, complete with the simple sound effect of the beating heart.
I do wish other areas of the body were covered in the intake form instead of just the head area, as my son, who has had his fair share of belly pains, wanted to have questions about gas pains he is familiar with as well as orthopedic concerns of arm, leg, or tail issues that could require a cast made of paper towels. Likewise, I would have loved for children to take the x-ray themselves with the snap of the camera instead of the images already in the patient file to be found, and I would have been quite tickled to find a short video of an MRI or CAT scan as well as other vitals such as blood pressure and breathing rate.
Even with these notes, my son loves this application. What I appreciate is that after the data has been assessed, an elaborate operating room theatre begins to be played out including sick animals and baby doll assistants. Every play computer and cash register my son has collected over the years are included as diagnostic equipment. Pretend construction tools that over time have been mixed into play medical equipment are used in ways that would be macabre if taken literally, making this app a wonderful platform for creative play. Oftentimes I find the iPad lying on my son’s bed as he performs surgery on his floor - an interest to me as this app, a favorite app of mine for him to play with, encourages him to interact with his toys and not the iPad, as in reality little screen time is used in comparison to the procedures performed.
As is apparent, my son is allowed to spend time with choice children’s apps that I deem worth his time, but I have continued to avoid other video and arcade games in favor of simple toys that my boy continues to fine value in. Although he is now almost six, hopefully my son can continue to have the imagination to bring his toys, animals, and dolls to life, flexing his creativity. I appreciate that Dr. PetPlay has created an outlet to help him explore and pretend. It would be really fun to see an update in the future to include more information to peruse, but I can whole-heartedly recommend this app just the way it is.