What Kids Videos Are Right for My Child?

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.

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