Once, the only “screen time” kids had was in front of the television. Today, kids still watch TV, but even cable TV offerings are limited. Kids are not likely to find a TV show instructing them on the finer points of making do-it-yourself (DIY) slime. There probably are few TV shows starring a child their exact age who shares the same obsession with the same boy band. It’s unlikely that the decision-makers responsible for TV programming will greenlight a program dedicated to discovering what happens when various items are flushed down the toilet.
No, your kids probably won’t find these shows on TV. But, they will find them (and millions like them) on YouTube. Unfortunately, a huge chunk of YouTube’s “programming” is vapid and unsuitable or even dangerous for kids. However, YouTube does have some redeeming channels. With supervision, your kids can actually learn things you want them to learn from YouTube. Here, in no particular order, are ten quality YouTube channels for kids.
If you don’t live in or around Washington, D.C., you don’t have easy access to the highly educational Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. But, you do have access to the Smithsonian Channel on YouTube. Your kids can learn about hammerhead sharks, monkeys, World War II, and 9/11, all on one channel, created by an unquestionably reliable source.
Chicago’s Field Museum has created a YouTube channel called The Brain Scoop, which engages kids with such videos as “Why Did King Tut Have a Flat Head?” and “The Human Biology Collection.”
3. Houston Zoo
If your child has an affinity for animals, check out the Houston Zoo YouTube channel. YouTube often gives kids (and adults) access to many popular educational attractions that are too far away to visit in person.
Another reputable source for quality, kid-friendly content is PBS. Your child can “watch words come alive” on the WordWorldPBS channel. Their animated and animal-themed content is great for younger kids!
Similarly, Sesame Street has its own YouTube channel, featuring all of your child’s favorite characters! These videos really excel at making learning entertaining for young children.
TED-Ed (from the nonprofit responsible for TED Talks) is committed to creating lessons worth sharing. On this channel, kids can be challenged by perplexing riddles, or they can investigate nature or ponder such subjects as “questions no one knows the answers to.”
7. Smart Girls
For older kids, check out Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls channel. It features the requisite DIYs that kids love, such as how to make fizzing bath bombs, for example, but also provides profiles of inspiring women, including astronauts and scientists, not to mention manners tutorials and videos designed to inspire girls to become involved in social issues such as climate change.
The SoulPancake YouTube channel dishes out a menu of “brain batter” about art, culture, science, philosophy, and more. As the site proclaims, “We make stuff that matters.”
Subscribe to SciShow and give your child the ability to “explore the unexpected.” What is gluten? Why do cats purr? What really killed the dinosaurs? Why can’t dogs eat chocolate? You and your kids can explore these fascinating questions and many more!
In this case, the name really does say it all! This channel is “all about science, the amazing universe we live in, and the pleasure of finding things out.” Joe Hanson, PhD, explains how things work and why things are the way they are.
YouTube is a lot like the internet itself. In moderation and with responsible supervision, it can be an incredibly educational tool. Activate the parental controls on your child’s devices, vow to be a helicopter parent when it comes to your child’s YouTube usage, and then open the floodgates of multimedia learning!