Children have a huge variety of entertainment options at any time of day, and none are more popular than YouTube.
In a recent survey of 2,000 U.S. children ages 2-12, more than eight out of 10 (85%) said they use YouTube to access video content, according to a study by Precise Kids, a child-safe YouTube advertising platform. YouTube was more popular than Nickelodeon, Nick Jr., Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Netflix and other platforms.
With so many options, finding safe, age-appropriate content online can be a daunting process for parents. But with some guidance, YouTube can be a resource for kids content that’s both entertaining and educational.
Experts say the key to helping children get the most out of educational media is for parents to make it an interactive experience. That means watching together and having an open dialogue while viewing.
“We really want to make sure that kids are looking at the right content, and we only know that if we sit down next to them … and watch what they’re watching,” says Denise Daniels, a parenting and child development expert and creator of The Moodsters. “Then, we can make comments like, ‘What do you think that character’s feeling?’ or ‘What do you think they should have done?’ or ‘If you were writing a story, how would you have changed it?'”
Monitor What Children Are Watching
It’s important to remember that the videos children watch will shape how they view the world, so what they’re viewing should align with your family’s values, says Daniels. Many channels teach things like diversity, creativity and safety, “but it’s up to grown-ups to be the guardian of what their children are watching,” she says.
When it comes to content on YouTube, and streaming platforms in general, a good rule is to check the age ratings for anything a child wants to access, says Teodora Pavkovic, a psychologist, parenting coach and digital wellness expert.
“Be involved in the initial setup of the account so that you can ensure parental controls and privacy settings are set up properly,” she says. “Set clear boundaries and expectations with your child around how, when, where and for how long they will use the platform.”
Fifteen minutes on YouTube can easily turn into hours when parents are not paying attention, says Josh Golin, executive director of Fairplay, an organization dedicated to ending marketing to children. He recommends being very specific when setting a child’s limitations. For example, instead of telling your child that they can watch YouTube for an hour, tell them they are going to watch two 30-minute episodes of “Caillou,” and then they’re done.
“Be involved on a continual basis,” Pavkovic says, “and make sure they know they can always come to you with any issues they encounter.”
10 YouTube Channels for Elementary School Students
There are plenty of options on YouTube for content that’s age-appropriate and can even help your child learn. Here are some examples:
A no-cost resource for teachers, students and parents, the nonprofit organization Khan Academy offers lessons in math, science, history, grammar and more. With its instructional videos, mastery challenges, exercises and quizzes, the interactive channel is available in dozens of languages.
— PBS Kids
Providing curriculum-based, age-appropriate and non-violent media, PBS Kids is an educational powerhouse. The channel produces high-quality educational programming for children, including “Odd Squad,” “Sesame Street,” the Mister Rogers-inspired “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” and “Super Why!”
The Kids Academy channel offers short, interactive and engaging videos to teach preschool children the basics of everyday life at home and in school. Early learning curriculum lessons include colors, letters and numbers, delivered in “bursts” of brief, entertaining nursery songs for little ones.
According to creators and scientists Mitchell Moffit and Gregory Brown, “AsapSCIENCE is a colourful intersection of art, science and pop culture where anyone can learn, participate and grow.” The channel structures its content into fun, informational 5-to-6-minute segments that break down science using easy-to-understand, kid-friendly terminology.
Covering topics like “How the Zebra REALLY Got Its Stripes” and “Why the Heck Is Glass Transparent,” “It’s Okay To Be Smart,” part of the PBS Digital Studios network, explores the science behind the stuff kids are interested in, cultivating curiosity in 20 minutes or less.
With tons of short videos focused on exploring the natural world, the National Geographic Kids channel offers a range of content for curious kids. While some videos can only be accessed with a paid subscription, free content to educate and entertain elementary-age children, much of it real-world footage of the wild, is available on demand.
Delivering age-appropriate entertainment in 30-minute segments, WildBrain Kids hosts shows like “Caillou,” “Inspector Gadget,” “Peanuts,” “Teletubbies” and more. The channel is available on many streaming platforms, including YouTube, in more than 14 languages.
Commonly used by elementary school teachers across the country, GoNoodle gives kids activity breaks throughout the day. With activities like dancing, jumping, stretching, running and deep breathing, the family-friendly channel helps kids get up and get moving.
Another PBS creation, the preschool series WordWorld highlights different words with animated art, helping early readers connect letters and sounds with words and meaning to help cultivate reading skills.
Created by a family of art lovers, drawing, painting, origami and other art lessons for kids are uploaded every weekday. The popular channel makes it easy for kids to practice art skills through easy-to-follow steps with supplies that can be found in most homes. Searching for a school? Explore our K-12 directory.
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Kids YouTube Channels for Elementary School Parents originally appeared on usnews.com