Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Software : Online Software
Scoot & Doodle on Hangouts

Scoot & Doodle on Hangouts

Fall 2012 Online Software
Ages: 1 & Up
Publisher: Scoot & Doodle
Platform: Online Software

Scoot and Doodle offers something new and different. It's so "new and different" that it requires some patience, as it uses some of the latest online technology.

Scoot & Doodle is one of the first playful, family-oriented applications launched this spring on Google+ Hangouts, Google's new online multi-person video chat that can handle up to 10 participants at a time. It's Google's interactive answer to both Facebook and Skype. Scoot & Doodle adds, as the name says, doodling to the Google+ Hangouts platform.

Scoot & Doodle is designed to be an excuse (or opportunity depending on your perspective) to get together online with friends and family who are geographically separated. It provides a little framework for your connection online by providing a painting tool box where you and up to nine others you invite can doodle together, play Hangman, and chat the entire time.

You do have to create a Google + account and download a video-chat plug-in to get started, then figure out how to invite someone into a Google + circle, and then onto the "Scoot & Doodle" Hangout. And you do need a web camera on your computer.

The software is designed by a team of working moms whose careers in TV journalism production, retail design and high tech led them to creating an online "hangout" for children and their friends and family that would be not only provide Skype-like interaction but also be a meaningful place where "creativity, silliness and fun activities are the main event."

Conceptually, their product is great. In reality, the innovation may be more intuitive for digital natives than visitors. When you first arrive in a Scoot & Doodle Hangout, you're not all that certain what to do or how to do it. And because the video-chat element shares with the larger doodling element, the real-time visuals of participants at the bottom of the screen are smaller than we'd like.

Entering this site may be a free e-ticket to being creative and spontaneous, an invitation to explore and express one's self with people you care about, whether you're creating a digital refrigerator gallery, a cooperative game or story, or a back of the envelope product design. The staying power will be interesting to track. But all in all, we tip our hats to this inventive invitation to play, connect, and communicate.

Don Oldenburg   ©2012 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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Scoot & Doodle

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