The past decade has seen an explosion of video content available online. Popular video streaming sites offer subscriptions, while user-created content provides widespread access to free material produced around the world.
Parents have mixed feelings about their kids being able to find entertainment with the click of a button. On one hand, kids of all ages can gain access to project ideas, educational videos, and entertainment quickly and easily — they can even create their own videos to share and become entertainers themselves! However, it can be hard to tell what content is specifically “made for kids” or not. Here are some things to be on the lookout for when determining what video content is “made for kids.”
Content created for children is easy for them to engage with. Look for language with simple phrasing, a clear topic, and a friendly tone. Your child will naturally be drawn to a sing-song voice, pleasant upbeat tone, and a positive pitch. Of course, it’s best to preview videos, stories, and games yourself to experience what your child will see. Look for programs recommended by other parents or explore online resources you can trust to gain extra insight.
One trademark of content made for kids is colorful imagery. Cartoons are generally made for kids (although not always) and programming for children likely includes a bright and energetic background scene. Scenery is simple and clean-cut with relatable and predictable backdrops. Look for bright, friendly colors, puppets, or animal characters.
Just as in books, programs for children often involve a simple, predictable storyline and relatable characters who solve daily problems. Shows like Paw Patrol, Bluey, Peppa Pig, and Wild Kratts follow a formula in every episode. Children love a predictable storyline they can relate to. The characters save the day, make a new discovery, or embark on an adventure with their friends in every episode.
Content geared toward children almost certainly involves the things they are interested in. The most typical characters are animals, explorers, or other children their age. Age-appropriate content includes subjects such as playing games, relating to toys, and learning how to solve simple problems they might experience in real life. Read about program content before your child dives in to gain some insight yourself.
Beyond your typical program, content created for children is often located on a user-friendly platform that kids can easily navigate. Such platforms often have parental settings built in. They have search features that make it easy for youngsters to locate the content they want to watch. Subsections involving ‘shows with characters’ or ‘kids movies’ direct the viewers toward age-appropriate material with the click of a button. Many popular streaming services also offer a ‘kids setting’ on their platform by default.
Many platforms also provide ratings that indicate whether or not the content of that program is appropriate for children and for what age range. Of course, it’s ultimately up to the parent to preview and research what their child is mature enough to handle — but ratings can be useful guidelines in determining quickly and easily whether this is a program your child should be watching, as determined by a board of parents who have already previewed that program.
Keep in mind that some content may not have a rating at all, but that doesn’t mean it is not suitable for children. It’s important to use your own discretion before handing your child full access to online or other content on streaming services. Caregivers can change parental control settings and use filters to make sure children do not view things that are outside of their developmental understanding, but if the content is unrated you might need to make a judgment call.
Don’t forget to consult your pediatrician and other community resources when needed. What is right for one child may not be appropriate for another. Children go through developmental phases and milestones at different times. The best parents go the extra mile for their children to help them navigate an ever-changing online world as they grow. When in doubt, consult a professional for guidance and the most up-to-date recommendations for screen time and programming by age.
It’s essential for parents to monitor what their children are watching. Even if the content seems age-appropriate and is rated for your child’s age range, keep an eye out for negative behavioral changes related to what children are seeing on television or online and make adjustments accordingly — better yet, watch programs with your child from time to time and see the world through their eyes.
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