Published: March 5, 2018
Healthy & Happy: Taking a Look at the Online Tools That Help Promote Kids’ Well-being
In last months’ blog ‘Keeping Kids’ Safe in the Digital and Physical world’, Sev Marcel looked at how parents should teach the same safety lessons to kids’ for both the physical and online world. She advocated that by teaching basic safety skills as you would for the physical world, both parents and kids’ need not fear what they find online but feel more empowered. Throughout March, WildBrain will be highlighting many online tools that parents and care-givers might find useful.
Screen Time Rising
There is now a huge amount of video content created and shared each day on popular video platforms such as YouTube. The widely quoted and incredible statistic, is that 300 hours of video is uploaded each minute to YouTube. Navigating your way through the array of offerings on the web or app store for appropriate content might feel like a chore but it’s well worth doing, as there are lots of brilliant, original new shows and resources available.
At WildBrain, we see that kids’ access and consumption of content on screens is at a record high. In a survey conducted by DHX Media and IPSOS, with parents of children 12 or younger in Canada, USA, and the UK, we discovered that children have access to at least five different types of devices in the household. Two-thirds of households in the study have a TV, Tablet, Smartphone, and Computer. TVs and Tablets are the most common screens used for watching and 1 in 5 children under 13 have their own Tablet.
Making Screen Time More Meaningful
So much of our lives are spent online today. From the alarm on your phone, the music streamed on your journey to work or school, to the numerous occasions throughout the day that you turn to a phone to communicate, buy or search. Kids’ now observe this from a very young age, and it seems a trend unlikely to reverse. Yet, what they are introduced to, time spent, and how they learn to use tools at their disposal online, can still be determined by the grown-ups responsible for them.
Healthy habits are best formed early. Positive influences and message need to come from home, school and the media. We know how much shows, characters and influencers play a role in how kids shape their identity. Kids’ entertainment shows can offer subtle and effective messages around: positive body shapes, healthy eating, the value of movement and exercise, and how to deal with emotions. With screen-based media a steady diet for kids all day long, it is crucial that producers and media companies respond with thoughtful content that promotes on-going well-being. Demonstrating the direct effect this can have: a recent study published by the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, showed an increasing number of girls have taken up archery after the launch of The Hunger Games.
The World Health Organization defines health as a “state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.
Taking Care of Kids’ Mental Health
Ever heard of Headspace for Kids? The app was created for adults but they have introduced an area for kids, which is well worth diving in to. Simply pick a theme, see if they can sit for ten minutes (Worth a try!?) through a guided talk, and see what happens on the other side. Meditation has been scientifically proven to help with a number of conditions including anxiety and stress. With Headspace, kids learn to slow down, and use simple breathing techniques they can apply every day.
Imagine an exercise class, set to a story. Cosmic Yoga, on YouTube, is a channel devoted to getting kids moving in a creative format. Lively presenter Jamie makes these simple routines fun. You don’t need to know anything about Yoga either. Jump in, and try this episode: Betsy Banana | A Cosmic Yoga Kids Adventure
By hitting Subscribe on the channel on main YouTube, you can find it again easily from the bottom bar on the mobile app. If you want to let your kids watch unsupervised, find the show easily via the search bar in the YouTube Kids App.
We fully embrace kids’ presenting on TEDxKids TALKS. There are some truly impressive young people, taking to the TED stage, to share their stories. It’s worth previewing them first, and Playlist the ones you like. This week we enjoyed: Finding the Heart of Bullying | Haley Roa | TEDxKids@ElCajon
Encouraging Movement and Fitness
No-one likes to be told not to eat/drink/do anything. In order to get kids’ enjoying healthy food and activities, we found these cool ideas that make physical exercise more fun, and a positive experience.
Get moving with Geo Caching for Kids. This is a location game, where players use technology to find real treasure points. The game involves getting out and about, so requires supervision for younger kids’. It looks pretty engaging for adults too – and an easy way to top way to up your own Fitbit step-count!
If your kids adore sing-along music and dance routines, then they’re likely to enjoy Go Noodle Kids. The app features hundreds of videos (without ads) designed to get kids’ moving. If you want to watch on YouTube, they have their own channel and can also be found in the YouTube Kids App.
We also love Common Sense Media where you’ll find an extensive review section of fitness apps, that can be filtered by age.
The Shows with Healthy Messages
All kids – young and old – enjoy time out watching characters on adventures: not to mention how important having a good laugh is. Everyone has their favorites – even those shows your kids adore, that make you want to throw the Ipad out the window when you hear the theme song. Video streaming platforms are a good place to re-discover classics that have stood the test of time and discover new and diverse characters.
Yo Gabba Gabba Songs and Music Promote Good Eating Habits
We recently asked parents of young fans of Yo Gabba Gabba! -“What made the show so special?” – The response was overwhelming, and at times made us a bit teary! The show was ground-breaking: music adults actually enjoyed, catchy songs and an ensemble of distinctive characters with personalities that kids from all walks of life could relate to (Brobie a clear favorite!). The show struck a chord with so many people. Parents of children with Autism, for example, told us the accessible musical lessons made the show great for developing speech.
Everything about the show encourages movement, through song-led lessons. The Party in my tummy video persuades kids to eat a mix of sensible foods. The LIVE show had audiences literally jumping off their chairs to join in.
Lazytown Puts Healthy Eating and Fitness at the Heart of the Story
Lazytown is a more traditional children’s television show, created by Magnus Scheving who also plays super-fit action hero central character Sportacus. Designed for four to seven year-olds, the Icelandic show is praised for promoting a healthy lifestyle. In the show, super-fit Sportacus battles villain Robbie Rotten, and motivates LazyTown children to do more outside activities and stop eating junk food. On the official channel there are also plenty of playlists, and fun songs to physically dance along to:
Sesame Street Tackles Traumatic Experiences
In response to national data that found nearly half of all children in the United States are affected by traumatic experiences , the award-winning Sesame Workshop, launched an online initiative. Their website hosts a number of excellent resources for kids. The bilingual content includes videos, storybooks, and digital activities hosted by the Muppets.
Healthy Food Made Fun
Make amazingly creative and healthy lunches from your kids’ favorite characters and shows. LunchBox Dad is a blog for any parent in need of inspiration. Dad of three, Beau Coffron, uses regular lunch ingredients and lots of fruit and vegetables to create themed boxes. The blog has legions of fans, although many do point out that the creations might not look quite as brilliant after a backpack journey to school!
Every day WildBrain manages hundreds of great kids brands on YouTube. Our team creates new episodes and series based on what audiences love to watch. For that reason, we are always on the lookout for feedback from parents, and grown-ups raising kids’ today. If you have suggestions tweet @WildBrainKids
- In May we celebrate ‘Positive Role Models for Kids’. Have any suggestions?
 IPSOS & DHX Media “Framing Kids Content: North America and UK 2016”
Posted by Kate Walker