When I was little, I remember waking up early on Saturday mornings, much against my mom’s wishes, to watch my favorite TV shows. If I didn’t see them then, I wasn’t going to catch them. Fast forward a few years, and I was able to record on our DVR my favorite TV shows. I could watch them at my convenience and delete them later.
Today, we now have Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Peacock, just to name a few. They give us the ability to stream our favorite TV shows and movies 24/7.
These streaming services also have options for younger kiddos. But what happens if a little one starts watching a PG-13 (or higher!) rated show without you knowing? This is where Sensical comes in!
Have you heard of Sensical?
Sensical is a free streaming service set to be launched this year. It aims to provide content specifically for kids ages 2 to 12. The platform will be run by Common Sense Networks and will contain over 15,000 titles and programs at the launch. It is said it will have new titles added monthly following the launch.
Common Sense Networks is a for-profit affiliate of Common Sense Media, and their goal is to “create and curate safe, age-appropriate and engaging content for kids and families.”
What to Expect
Sensical is unique because it is comprised of “short-form” videos, or videos that are 10 minutes or less. They are rigorously selected by a team trained in child development and a rubric created will be used to ensure content is in alignment with Common Sense Media’s ideals. This streaming device is ad-funded, making it 100% free.
Within Sensical itself, there will be three major libraries: Preschoolers (ages 2-4), Little kids, (ages 5-7), and Big kids (ages 8-12). Within these libraries, kids will have the option to search hundreds of specific topics/ideas to find what they are looking for.
There will also be a ‘Sensical Parent Zone,’ where parents will have access to what their kids watched, how long they watched, and even the education values that came along with what was watched.
When can we Watch?
While there is not a specific new release date yet, it was originally set to be released early 2021. Sensical will be in the app store for both Apple and Android, as well as an option on multiple smart TV models. It is also rumored it will work through a website.
So, parents, get ready, because here comes the streaming service you have been waiting for.
As much as I hate to admit it, my daily screen usage has gone up significantly during quarantine.
Since we are all stuck inside most days, it’s likely that both you and your kids have also been on your devices more than usual. While this is completely understandable, most of what your kids may be viewing on their devices is probably not educational or brain-stimulating.
Instead of letting your kids stream TikTok videos, here are my top five things for your kids to watch:
Educational and fun YouTube series:
YouTube isn’t just cute and funny animal videos anymore; it now actually contains channels and show series that can be both fun and educational for your kids. One of my recent favorites is “Some Good News.” Started by actor and dad, John Krasinski, SGN is solely focused on providing happy, fun and good news to its viewers. John Krasinski brings some of his celebrity friends on each episode as well. Other shows I’d recommend on YouTube include The Brain Scoop, SoulPancake and Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls.
Aquarium and zoo live streams:
Many zoos and aquariums all around the country have begun to live stream their animals to show everyone at home how they are doing during this quarantine. The Houston Zoo is one of the most popular with its live streams of giraffes, elephants and more. They also have a Facebook Live series that includes videos of their animals, fun facts and even activities for you to complete at home with your kids. If your kids love sea creatures, the Monterey Bay Aquarium also has live streams as well as narrated feedings during the week.
Kennedy Center’s Lunch Doodles with Mo Willems:
A great way to get your kids to use their hands for things other than scrolling through social media or clicking on their tablets is to get them to be creative. Mo Willems is the Kennedy Center Education Artist-in-Residence. Since the quarantine, he has begun to make videos of himself drawing and exploring different ways to make art. He provides printable worksheets for each of his “Lunch Doodles” on the Kennedy Center website.
Documentaries for kids:
Netflix, Hulu and all of the other streaming platforms provide a wide variety of different types of documentaries. Many of these can be super educational and kid-friendly. March of the Penguins was the first documentary I watched as a kid and it really opened my eyes and taught me so much about nature and penguins. Disney’s animal documentaries like “Born in China” and “Monkey Kingdom” are super educational and interesting to watch. Some other family-friendly documentaries include “Kindness is Contagious,” “Pick of the Litter” and “The Imagineering Story.”
Live stream concerts:
Since artists can no longer perform on stage in front of audiences, they are bringing the concert to you by live-streaming their performances online. Live Nation has a whole page on their site dedicated to telling you when these live stream concerts are taking place. Some family-friendly artists who have begun live streaming are Andrew Lloyd Webber with Lin-Manuel Miranda and Kathrine McPhee with David Foster. They have sung songs from your kids’ favorite Disney movies as well as popular musicals. To find out more about who is live streaming, check out Live Nation’s website or your kids’ favorite artist’s social media pages.
Parents, with winter break approaching, chances are your kids will have additional screen time over the holiday.
So how about this year, instead of letting them scroll endlessly on YouTube or Netflix, watching meaningless, sub-par content, why not suggest something that could actually be worth their time?
I’m talking about Marvel’s “Hero Project,” streaming exclusively on Disney+.
A Short Series Overview
Marvel’s “Hero Project” is a Disney+’s original series shot in documentary-style. It follows young real-life heroes as they show courage and kindness. These teens inspire positivity and change across their communities.
Each kid featured in the show will have a comic book written about them – inspired by their real-life acts of heroism.
It is a 20-episode production and currently has six episodes released, with a new episode debuting every Friday.
To let you know what you can expect, here’s a quick review of Episode 1: “Sensational Jordan.”
Episode 1: “Sensational Jordan” Review
As most Marvel motion-pictures do, “Hero Project” does a great job of introducing the show. It begins with a voiceover from a Marvel editor who says how they are continuing to be inspired every day by real-life heroes.
Jordan Reeves is a 13-year old girl with a limb difference – her left arm stops just above the elbow. In the first scene, she is seen cheerleading at a junior high sporting event. Unlike most tweens who struggle with imperfection, Jordan embraces what makes her different. Stubborn and hard-headed from an early age, she comes across as a confident and intelligent teenager.
Growing up having to learn how to do things a little different than most people, Jordan always had a fascination with design and how things worked. After attending a design workshop in San Francisco, Jordan began working weekly with Sam Hobish, a design mentor, on a glitter gun for her dismembered arm.
Eventually, because of how serious Jordan took her invention, she went viral – appearing on the “Rachael Ray Show” and later pitching her idea to the cast of “Shark Tank.”
After her climb into the spotlight, Jordan wanted to do more to help others. She began holding workshops with other kids to help build things that played off their disabilities. She became an activist for more consideration for accessibility in the design community – eventually creating her own non-profit foundation, “Born Just Right”.
At the end of the episode, Marvel presents her with her own comic book and makes her an official member of the “Hero Project” because of her charitable and forward-thinking work.
Altogether, I think Disney does a great job moving an audience with such an inspirational story in just a brief 25 minutes. Even as an adult, I felt a swing of emotions throughout the short documentary, and it left me feeling positive and joyful. There were also some absolutely stunning shots in this episode.
I’m not a particularly huge Marvel Cinematic Universe fan, but I was blown away by the show’s overall concept and the beautiful execution in episode one.
In a world where there is so much pointless and commercialized content out there, that target kids specifically, I think “Hero project” is a great way to combat that. It promotes both critical thinking and positive change.
It’s a home-run for me and I think it will be with most parents struggling to find good content for their children.
What Parents Are Saying
Mom bloggers and entertainment critics Patty Holiday of No-Guilt Fangirl and Andrea Updyke of Theme Park Parents collaborate on the podcast “Now Streaming Disney Plus”. They break down all the latest Disney Plus news in addition to reviewing the different series from a tween-parent perspective. The two moms also loved the first episode and offer some great insight. You can check that out here.
Every day, children access a wide variety of media platforms that are filled with advertisements through their phones, tablets and laptops.
Food and beverage advertisements have been found to be the most viewed on apps such as YouTube and Snapchat.
A Canadian study found that children view over 100 advertisements for food each week on apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube.
These advertisements are specifically targeting younger viewers who have low impulse control and low healthy dieting behaviors.
Social media has made it so much easier for marketers to target consumers. They can use digital tools like location settings, preferences and past purchasing data to more accurately grab the consumer’s attention.
According to a study done at the University of Michigan, when children view these frequent, and sometimes persistent food advertisements, it makes them desire the reward of food.
In the study, it shows that when adolescents see unhealthy food commercials, it activates the reward centers of the brain. This then causes the child to want to seek out any type of food related to what they saw in the advertisement.
How you can limit your child’s advertisement exposure:
While it’s practically impossible to completely remove all types of advertisements from your child’s life, there are ways to prevent food advertisements from appearing on their screens.
Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime don’t rely on advertisements for revenue and your kids will not be exposed to any type of advertisements on these apps.
Also through the settings section in apps like Instagram, you can see the advertisements that have been shown to your children as well as learn about what to do if you see an ad you wish to hide. Many of these also have parental control options.
Websites like Common Sense Media can help parents learn about the different apps and streaming services their children use as well.
Here at 2020 Parenting, we’ve touched a lot on streaming services, and how they’ve changed the way kids today consume television shows and movies.
By now, most parents are probably familiar with the major streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime Video. They’re probably also familiar with the streaming process as a whole. And how unlike cable, streaming service customers can handpick which content they want to watch when they want it.
For better or for worse, the already-crowded industry is about to get one more competitor – one that has the potential power to change the future of streaming forever and knock out cable television, as well as its other streaming competitors, for good.
Parents, I present you, Disney+.
What is Disney+?
Although Disney+ has been in the works for a little over two years, the new streaming service is set to launch on Nov. 12.
Like most of the major streaming services today, Disney+ subscribers will be able to stream using Roku, Apple and Android devices, in addition to being able to steam using gaming consoles like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
For $6.99 per month, or $69.99 a year, Disney+ customers will have access to an overwhelming amount of Disney-created and Disney-purchased content.
Unlike Netflix’s non-premium tier, Disney+ allows subscribers to stream to four devices simultaneously and have access to 4K content for no additional cost.
While most expect that the service will eventually increase their price, Disney has also said they will eventually offer a Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ for $13 a month, the same price as Netflix.
What’s all included?
While it’s hard to fully understand how much is currently owned and underneath the Disney umbrella, the graphic below can help break it down for you.
The main content featured in Disney+’s pitch is Disney content itself, (animated and live-action films, and television shows), Pixar Films, the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Star Wars and National Geographic.
It will also feature Fox’s content such as the “X-Men” series, all 30 seasons of “The Simpsons” and “The Sound of Music.” It will also have classic Disney Vault films such as “The Fox and the Hound” and “Bambi,” and will continue to add new films not too long after they appear in theaters. Think, “Captain Marvel” and the new live-action version of “Aladdin.”
However, maybe the biggest appeal to life-long Disney fans, is the exclusive Disney+ Originals set to debut with the service next month. Some titles already released include: “Star Wars: The Mandalorian,” Marvel’s “Hero Project” and “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series.” These hyped-up exclusives will surely excite some kids.
How will this change
In all honesty, Disney+ was built on the concept of nostalgia and recreating your childhood. If you grew up with Disney as a kid, check out this short trailer and tell me you don’t feel something?
Personally, I grew up watching the Disney Channel and its films. Disney was constantly on in our house. Watching that trailer gave me the chills – even though today I prefer sports over animated series and films.
According to JP Morgan, this nostalgia will lead Disney+ to quickly rivaling, and
eventually even passing, Netflix’s 139 million subscriber count. JP Morgan is
predicting Disney will get to 160 million subscribers fast.
While this is partially because of the attractiveness of Disney+’s model, it is also because Disney plans on removing all of its’ content from rival streaming services like Netflix.
Oh, and did I mention that Disney+ is going to allow users to download all of its’ available content for no additional charge. This means no matter where you are – even when you’re without Wi-Fi, you could be enjoying Disney content.
What do Parents need to know specifically?
While the launch of Disney+ could very well lead to even more kid streaming, some of the best news for parents is that the service will have parental controls. The website Deseret details some of this.
Because there will adult content
like the “The Simpsons” on the service, Disney+ will encourage a little bit of
peace of mind to parents by allowing them to block some content. (Though, how
hard is it for a tween to get that password?)
In the end I think this is going to
be a positive development for parents. You can get all of that wonderful Disney
content all in one place, and if you don’t need much other television, you can
get it all for one low price.
But don’t forget, folks. It’s still
screen time. Monitor that closely and set boundaries to how much time your kid
spends in front of a screen.
Until next time – here’s to keeping
that Disney magic alive!
It was the summer of 2011. The
final episode of Disney Channel’s “The Suite Life on Deck,” starring Dylan and
Cole Sprouse, was on. It marked the end of my childhood, as I knew it.
I was 13-years-old and three years removed from my other favorite tween cable shows, “Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide,” “Drake & Josh” and “Zoey 101”. All ended, I might add, prematurely.
Growing up, my parents weren’t
always around when I got home from school. So, with my Spaghetti-O’s or Easy
Mac in hand, I watched them every afternoon. I felt like I grew up with these
actors and actresses.
When they were over, I felt lost. Like a chapter of my life was suddenly over. All the laughs, all the stories and all the countless life lessons – gone!
I knew it was time to find new show, even though the constant reruns on “Teen Nick” were some comfort. Of course, I could just wait around until ESPN decided to start speculating again if Brett Favre was going to come out of retirement. But in July, football season seemed so far way. (Yes, even at 13 I was hooked on football.)
I began exploring new channels. What
I stumbled upon was a collection of great ‘90s, coming-of-age series, like
“Saved by the Bell” and “Boy Meets World”. Thanks to Mr. Belding and Mr. Feeney
I continued to learn valuable life lessons, like, tell a close friend the truth
even if it will make them made, and, be very careful of caffeine pills.
I also came across shows more grown up shows, like “That’s 70’s Show,” “Freaks and Geeks” and “How I Met Your Mother.” Masterpieces, but I was too naive at the time to get all of the drug and sexual references went over my head. However, kids these days are exposed to more on social media. They might not be so clueless.
Today’s Tween/Teen Shows
Let’s face it. Today’s kids stream.
This means they don’t have to choose from just the 5-6 cable channels I had to
choose from. They can log into Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc… and find any
show they want.
It’s hard to single out what teens are watching from all of the data, so let’s look at the top streamed shows on Netflix, the hottest service amongst preteens/teens. In January, Netflix released data on some of its most viewed shows. It’s measured as a percentage of all Netflix shows, with the data pulled from web browsers from January 2018- November 2018.
I’ve pulled out a few of them that
I think many teens are watching. Maybe your kid is watching one of these. If
so, do you know what’s in it?
Showtime’s “Shameless” began airing
in 2011. It wasn’t until 2017 that the show exploded on Netflix. Suddenly
everyone was talking about the ups and downs of the alcoholic Frank Gallagher
and his six children.
This show can come across as extremely entertaining and seemingly realistic. However, it is very inappropriate for preteens or teens. There’s swearing, nudity, sex and drug references throughout, make it tough watch for even some adults. While some may say it teaches important lessons, overall, we agree with this review, that parents will find it is best suited for age 17+.
“13 Reasons Why”
Originally released as a Netflix
Original in March in March 2017, “13 Reasons Why” builds a story around a topic
often left out of popular media – suicide.
The show follows Clay Jensen as he
listens to a series of audio tapes left behind by Hannah, his deceased classmate
and former love interest.
Since the show’s release, there has
been both praise and disapproval of the show’s premise. Some say it commercializes
suicide and mental health related diseases.
Recently, Netflix actually removed two scenes after the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry published a study showing that suicide by people aged 10-17 “dramatically increased” in the months following the release of the show. You can check out what some parents are saying about the show and decide for yourself if your preteen/teen is ready to watch it.
Another Netflix original, “Stranger
Things,” is a science fiction horror series that has three seasons available
for streaming on Netflix.
On the surface, the show is a sci-fi that follows events in a fictitious town called Hawkins, Indiana. It’s set in 1983 and it follows the disappearance of a young boy. Many other supernatural events also take place but there’s also a lot of I’m not diving into the show myself, but I suggest you take five minutes and watch YouTube parent Nick Shell. He has a very interesting take on the show.
This show starts one of my early favorite childhood actors, Cole Sprouse (remember, the “Suite” life shows?) “Riverdale” was released in 2017 but it’s already very popular. It’s based on the Archie Comics, but it’s much darker than the comic book you might remember. I think you may want to leave this one “on the shelf” for your preteen/teen. Some of the mysteries revolve around the murder of a local boy and an affair between a student and teacher. One reviewer called it “adult content packaged as a kid show.”
Hey, there’s always going to be new TV shows. And your kid may
know about them faster than you. What can you do? For starters, you can at least look up the
title and see what others are saying about the show.
Here are two links we thought were very useful. Keep them
bookmarked. Don’t be shy about asking your kid what they’re watching.
And don’t be afraid to have them watch an old favorite. The
“Suite Life” series never gets old. Will they ever get out of that hotel or off
the boat? I hope not.