So you don’t want your kids on YouTube. That makes sense. There’s a lot of garbage on that site, and that’s before you even get to the comments.
It would be nice if Google helped curate it all, and the YouTube Kids app was supposed to solve this. In recent months, however, the growing plague of creepy, fake kid-friendly videos has made YouTube Kids a completely unviable option for many parents. There’s too much content on the site for Google to effectively curate it all, and too much incentive for bad actors to put terrible stuff there.
Fake videos staring familiar characters often devolve into violence with seemingly no warning, meaning your kid could see Mickey Mouse shooting Goofy (or worse). This is something a lot of parents are understandably uncomfortable with, but it’s not all. There are the unboxing and egg surprise videos, consumerist garbage kids become obsessed with before inevitably begging for new toys. And even if your kid is watching great content there’s the advertising, which prompts similar reactions.
So what’s the alternative? Curated services that don’t show ads. Here are a few to check out.
PBS Kids: a Trusted Name With Lots of Free Content
You remember PBS Kids; you likely watched it as a child. To this day, PBS affiliates offer a block of children’s programs on broadcast TV, which they’ve supplemented with a generous online offering. There are thousands of videos, and an app that makes it easy to browse.
Download the app for iOS or Android and your kids can watch full episodes and clips from Curious George, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Wild Kratts, Peg + Cat, The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That, Dinosaur Train, SUPER WHY!, Nature Cat, Ready Jet Go!, and Sesame Street. That’s all content that kids love and that you can trust, and there’s no advertising to worry about either. The app is completely free, too (though you can always donate to your local station if you really appreciate the app).
Amazon FreeTime Unlimited: Content Curated by Age Group
The Amazon FreeTime service isn’t free: it costs $3 a month for Amazon Prime subscribers. But it’s probably worth that, and more, because of how much it does.
There are thousands of kid friendly clips and full episodes from PBS, Disney, and Nickelodeon, on top of a number of books, apps, and games for kids to download for no extra charge, meaning you never have to provide a credit card.
It’s not free like PBS Kids, but there are no ads and seemingly no end to the content. And it’s all tied together with software that can completely lock down one of Amazon’s super affordable tablets, allowing you to turn it into a totally kid-friendly device. (Amazon even sells versions of their tablets for kids, complete with a one-year FreeTime subscription.) There’s even an app for you to control what your kids can and can’t do on their devices. It’s an all-in-one solution worth checking out.
Netflix: The Streaming Service You Love, With Solid Parental Controls
If you already pay for Netflix, you’re probably not thrilled with the idea of paying more for a kids-only service. Happily, Netflix has you covered with its Kids Mode. We’ve shown you set up parental controls in Netflix, and it’s fairly extensive. Just create seperate Netflix profiles for everyone in your house, setting what kind of content they’re allowed to see.
Then you can lock down the adult profiles with a PIN, so your kids can’t use them. Later you can review what your kids of watched in the Netflix preferences, allowing you to see how much and what they’re watching.
There’s a lot of kid-specific content here, all from trusted sources. And while it’s not as specifically educational as PBS Kids, you won’t see Peppa Pig getting dismembered, and there are no advertising or unboxing videos to worry about.
If All Else Fails: Download or Rip Their Favorite Shows
If you want full control over what your kids watch, or just want to supplement the above offerings with a show or movie that’s not offered, consider actually buying movies and TV shows for them to watch. You can use Google Play or iTunes depending on your devices, or you can go old-school and actually buy DVDs and Blu-Rays in physical stores. It’s common for such discs to come with a code for use online, but you can also decrypt and rip DVDs and rip Blu-Ray discs to get them onto your child’s tablet. It’s a little bit of work, but it’s worth it.
Photo credit: jfk image/Shutterstock.com.