YouTube is packed with great educational content, but the deep parts of YouTube can also get pretty weird. As a parent, you may not want to let your kids browse too freely. Luckily, YouTube recently released YouTube Kids.
YouTube Kids is a free mobile app, available for iOS and Android, which curates educational and entertainment content for kids and teens, while keeping out the scary stuff. You can catch the channels in your browser too.
As YouTube Kid’s product manager Shimrit Ben-Yairputs it,
“[YouTube Kids is] the first Google product built from the ground up with the little ones in mind […] The app makes it safer and easier for children to find videos on topics they want to explore.”
If you’re looking to get started with YouTube Kids, we’ve checked out the initial offerings (which will grow over time), and picked out five great educational channels to get started with, both for younger kids and tweens.
Whiz Kid Science is a channel that does a great job of capturing the spirit of elementary school science fair projects. The young spokesman does a great job of making the projects seem approachable, and the videos clearly break down what’s needed (mostly household items). The experiments are safe, engaging, and help to build an understanding of the natural world at a young age.
These videos are a great resource for bonding with your kids over fun projects, as well as being a great resource for learning
Many of us have fond memories of growing up with Reading Rainbow ourselves, back in the 80’s and 90’s. Now, Levar Burton is back, in partnership with YouTube, with a whole new set of bite-sized videos. Reading is still part of it, but the new Reading Rainbow comes with an increased focus on STEM topics.
For young children with an interest in science and technology, this channel is a great way to cultivate that interest.
TED Talks are a great resource for keeping up with cutting edge science and finding inspiration fuel. Now from the creators of those talks, TED Ed presents brief lessons on a variety of topics, from mathematics to biology. The lessons come from guest lecturers from all over the world, who break down complex topics into short videos. Bright, friendly animations help to make the content engaging for young viewers with short attention spans, and can also help to entertain younger children, even if they don’t absorb all of it.
If you are a parent or teacher, TED Ed is one of the best resources for flipped lessons that are engaging and fun.
Khan Academy is a fantastic resource, for kids and adults alike. We regularly feature it on our list of best learning websites. It’s less colorful and attention-grabbing than TED Ed, but it also goes a lot farther. Khan Academy probably isn’t appropriate for kids under ten. That said, if you do the lessons in order, there are a lot of great resources here to give your tween or teen a head start in math, biology, physics, and even history, and the patient explanations in the videos are great if your kids are confused about concepts from their homework.
Numberphile is a great channel – although, again, probably a little boring for younger children. Numberphile does a great job of making advanced concepts in mathematics fun and accessible, and breaking the subject down into YouTube videos a few seconds long.
For older kids with an interest in math, this channel could cultivate a lifelong love of mathematics. Less of an outright curriculum like Khan Academy, Numberphile focuses instead on picking out interesting and engaging mathematical topics or factoids, to help show off the things that are cool about math if you invest the time to understand it.
For kids wondering why they’re struggling through algebra, just knowing that there’s cool stuff waiting for them down the road can help a lot.
Getting the Most Out of YouTube Kids
YouTube Kids comes with a fairly extensive suite of parental controls, and you’re going to want to use them. For starters, Youtube Kids by default plays chipper music and sound effects. These get old after about four seconds, and you’re going to want to turn them off right away (tap the ‘lock’ icon in the lower right hand corner to access parental controls). The app also allows you to set time limits on use, and disable the search function.
Given the curated nature of the platform, disabling the search function is probably overkill. That said, if you’re really concerned about what your kids run across, do remember that the protections only work on one app. If you want to really kid-proof a mobile device, you’re going to want a more robust set of parental controls.
What’s your experience with Youtube Kids? Did we miss a great channel?Let us know in the comments!