If you are going to get an app called Papa Penguin, of course you have to learn some new facts about penguins. Your children are more than likely going to ask, “Why is Papa penguin feeding the babies?” “Do only fathers feed the babies?” “Where’s the mother?” “Who takes care of the babies?” Did you know that penguin chicks (I had forgotten they were called this) cannot care for themselves, and they can only survive with their parents’ help? The male emperor penguin stays with his one egg while the female gets the food. All the time that the father penguin is protecting the egg, he does not eat anything but ice. If the egg hatches before mom returns, the male can produce a curd-like substance from his esophagus and feed his baby chick. Once the chicks are hatched, the moms and dads both feed the chicks with regurgitated (have fun explaining that!) food. And, among all those baby chicks, the adults can identify their own by its distinctive call. All human mothers and dads know they can do this, too.
Now it’s time to actually play the game along with its nice and mellow music. The chicks are crying because they are hungry. So, it is necessary to send Papa Penguin off to get some fish for their next meal. Your child moves him around in the water, gobbling up the fish and the bubbles of oxygen and then returning him with the fish to the starving chicks within a time deadline. Of course, just as in real life, there are many things to watch out for when catching those fish. There are different levels with varying challenges, such as seals and polar bears. Each new level increases speed and offers new risks. I’m not so keen on Papa dying or the kids starving when the time runs out or after hitting too many obstacles like poisonous jellyfish, but I guess that is nature at its worst.
Admittedly, just like any other game, it does become addictive. It’s important to keep those penguin babies fed and the new ones hatched. And, of course, the chicks are just like human babies and kids: As soon as dad returns with the fish after his dangerous trip into the sea, the chicks immediately eat up the food and demand more.
For younger children, the iPad is much easier for manipulation. On the smaller screens, it can be difficult getting away from the dangers and catching the necessary fish and bubbles for oxygen. Now, there’s another question you’ll need to answer. How long can a penguin go without breathing?