Out of all the kids videos available online and in kids apps like Jellies, how can parents like you know which kids videos are best for your children? The question is becoming more of an issue as children have greater access to content on smartphones and tablets. What’s more, parenting advocates are increasingly warning families about the impact the wrong online kids videos can have on child behavior and development.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines recommend that children only watch and interact with “high quality” screen content. But what exactly is considered “high quality” screen content for kids? This is one of the fundamental questions we fall back on every time we curate content for Jellies. The answer isn’t as simple as you might think as the quality of a video is largely dependent on the age of the viewer.
To help you get a grasp on what your child should be watching, we created this round-up of the characteristics of quality kids videos based on guidelines from AAP and age-range data from San Francisco non-profit Common Sense Media. These guidelines will help you identify the best kids videos for your family.
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Kids Videos Within the Right Age Range
Common Sense Media’s age-range information is a good place to start in determining what kids videos are appropriate for your child. These guidelines identify important developmental benchmarks for each age group. They also explain how children interpret images and the world around them based on their age. Using these guidelines you can grasp what types of kids videos your child might enjoy and learn from as they grow older.
For example, have you noticed how kids videos meant for the youngest children tend to be repetitive, show bright colors, and have very simple messages? This is because children as old as two years old respond positively to those characteristics. Those same kids videos, however, would probably not be nearly as interesting to children between the ages of 5 and 7 because of differences in their cognitive, social, and emotional development over their 2‑year-old counterparts. Common Sense Media points out these differences between age groups and explains how a child’s interpretation of content can change dramatically over the span over a few years.
Kids Videos That Inspire Creativity and Imagination
“Quality” kids videos also encourage kids to make new things and see the world in a new way. Creativity isn’t so much a propensity for art and music but discovering new things and new ways to approach different situations. Creative and imaginative children have learned how to question, explore, and challenge themselves and their surroundings. Through creative activities and imaginative play, children further their physical, emotional, and intellectual development.
Kids videos that inspire creativity and imagination are especially important for kids as young as 2 years, according to Common Sense Media age benchmarks. This is because children between the ages of 2 and 4 start to become much more involved in imaginative play. This might also be a good reason to stay away from videos that feature a lot of toy play as children within that age range also start to mimic others. They may start to imitate the toy play they see other children engaging in on their screens instead of coming up with their own ways to interact with their toys and the world around them.
Kids Videos That Show Proper Social Interaction
Kids videos with characters who demonstrate proper social behaviors are important for young children who are just starting to play near or with others. According to Common Sense Media, children as young as 2 and 3 start interacting with others in a more meaningful way. While they can’t necessarily comprehend that others have different emotions and opinions, they do start to recognize and understand another person’s goals. As they turn 4, children start learning to control their emotions and expressing their emotions through words. They start to recognize that friendship requires conflict resolution and an understanding beyond their own emotions.
Because children tend to imitate what they see it’s critical that children are always exposed to the right messaging regarding social interaction. Kids videos should show good interpersonal skills in practice, like sharing and waiting your turn, being polite, collaboration and teamwork, and adjusting their communication for different contexts. These skills will become even more important as children grow older and interact more with their peers.
Kids Videos That Teach Good Values
As children push past 5 years of age, they start to assert their individuality and sense of personal privacy, according to Common Sense Media. In doing so, they begin to get more of a sense of what’s right and wrong, and the existence of social groupings like race and gender. It’s important to pay close attention to the messaging in kids videos as it deals with personal responsibility and ethics.
Look for videos with clear, positive messaging about empathy, acceptance, racial tolerance, respect, integrity, as well as understanding and learning from consequences. Kids between 5 and 7 years old learn better with real world demonstrations and role models. The right kids videos are the ones with characters who are exhibiting behaviors you want your child to adopt.
Kids Videos That Encourage Deeper Thinking
Children between the ages of 8 and 9 start developing critical thinking and reasoning. “They have arrived at the ‘age of reason’ and will solve problems on their own,” according to Common Sense Media. Kids videos for this age group should encourage children to think about different experiences, times and places, as well as other people’s lives.
Look for simple messaging that features characters who identify and deal with ethical dilemmas, pushes past obstacles to solve problems, and shows that there are multiple ways to interpret and deal with situations. Kids videos with brief logic and strategy games can further enhance cognitive skills in children.
Kids Videos That Get Children Up and Moving
Kids videos that encourage children to be more active are useful for all age ranges. Movement is important for children in that it helps them develop motor skills and physical health. What’s more, researchers are beginning to draw links between the sedentary activity of watching content on screens and unhealthy childhood weight gain. The thought is screen time is limiting the amount of active play and exercise children are getting. Some studies claim that too much screen time can even cause childhood obesity. A healthy diet of movement-focused kids videos can help curb those impacts.
There are a variety of ways kids video content can inspire children to stand up and move around. Try finding videos that tell children to jump, swing their arms, or march in place while counting from 1 to 100. Kids videos can also demonstrate more technical activities, like kicking a soccer ball into a goal, and embolden children to go out and practice these movements or even join a new sport.
Kids Videos That Educate
Like movement videos, kids videos that focus on teaching topics are useful for all age ranges. Choose videos that focus on topics you’d most like your child to learn. Keep in mind, however, that educational kids videos tackle a variety of subjects with different comprehension levels. Astronomy, for example, can be as simple as naming the planets in our solar system and as complex as abstract theories about space and time. Biology can be as simple as naming basic animals and grow more complex like understanding the connections of every organism and non-living influence in an ecosystem.
You’ll need to filter the topics based on your child’s age and comprehension level. You can use Common Sense Media’s age range guidelines for more of an idea of what your child should be able to understand and accomplish. For example, younger children may be able to memorize songs and recite names, as well as learn basic facts. Children between the ages of 2 and 4 learn better from more concrete ideas as the abstract is often confusing for that age group. Older children are more equipped to handle more complex information and relational concepts.
Remember That These Are Only Guidelines
You know your child best. While these guidelines will give you some direction in discovering the best content for your child, they aren’t the final say. You’ll be able to curate better kids videos by asking yourself (or your child) what he or she is interested in, where he or she needs reinforcement, and what topics make the most sense in the context of his or her life. Regardless of your child’s age range, it’s imperative that you remain an active participant and guide for your child in his or her screen content consumption.