Updated December 2, 2020: Left to her own devices, my four-year-old will find terrifying videos on YouTube. So what are some safe options for your child to watch that won't leave them with nightmares?
I crowdsourced recommendations for some YouTube channels of substance for kids. Here are eight of my favorites, that are completely safe for your preschooler. While you're at it, learn more about how companies are making the internet safe for kids here.
And, if you're worried your child is having a little too much fun online, here are some ways to set technology boundaries.
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Description: 26 animated blocks that each represent a letter of the alphabet dance around. A lot.
Audience: Kids learning to read.
Running Time: Varies
Sample Episode: "Alphablocks: The Alphabet"
Why I Like It: Because my daughter does! And because this is a really useful, well done series that deserves more subscribers.
2. Dan TDM (The Diamond Minecart)
Description: Charming British gamer narrates while playing Minecraft.
Audience: Young Minecraft fans.
Running Time: All over the place – 10 to 30 minutes.
Sample Episode: HE STOLE MY GOLD!!
Why I Like It: I've never played Minecraft. I don't love video games. But I can see why young game lovers would love this guy. Parents can relax because he keeps it clean. Plus it seems, as video games go, Minecraft doesn't involve a lot of murdering other characters so that's probably a plus.
3. Lullaby Baby
Description: Soothing music and animations for babies.
Running Time: Hours and hours. Could last a whole nap time.
Sample Episode: "8 hour piano medley"
Why I Like It: A friend recommended it as an amazing way to calm a crying baby in the car. Wish I'd known about it when my toddler was a baby!
4. Life Hacks for Kids
Description: Fun craft ideas taught by a kid.
Audience: Kids old enough to use scissors and hot glue
Running Time: Around 5 minutes.
Sample Episode: "Washi Tape Hacks"
Why I Like It: It's hosted by a talented young girl and is far more upbeat and fast paced than most adult craft shows.
5. Sesame Street
Description: Old school and new school Sesame Street videos.
Audience: Young kids and nostalgic adults.
Running Time: Some short segments and some full episodes.
Sample Episode: Season 46 opening teaser for HBO version of Sesame Street (it's kind of awesome)
Why I Like It: It's got everything from those awesome 70's interviews with kids to the modern day segments.
6. Masha and the Bear
Description: Russian animated series.
Audience: Toddlers to young kids.
Running Time: Most episodes run 7 or 8 minutes.
Sample Episode: "Masha and the Bear - Visiting a fairy tale"
Why I Like It: Reminds me of the good ol' cartoons like Tom and Jerry. The storytelling is mostly visual with little dialogue — which is good if you don't know Russian.
7. PBS Kids
Description: Variety of shorts from PBS shows that teach language, math and science skills.
Audience: Preschool age to 8.
Running Time: Anywhere from three to twelve minutes.
Sample Episodes: "I Say Tomato" (Oh Noah!), What flummoxed means (Wordgirl), "Gooey Randall and Goopy Gus" (Odd Squad)
Why I Like It: Truly something for every kid.
Description: Animations of classic fairy tales that help kids learn to read.
Audience: Toddlers will enjoy the stories and animations and kids learning to read will appreciate the highlighted words.
Running Time: Nursery Rhyme length – most under 5 minutes. Some compilations are long enough to get you through that hot cup of coffee.
Sample Episode: "The Gingerbread Man"
Why I Like It: It's a great reading tool using familiar stories. Unfortunately the pop up ads pop up right over the words so you'll have to teach your kids to hit the little x in the upper right corner.
An important lesson children of all ages can learn? Money. It doesn't have to be complication, and can even be fun to teach. Here are 50 (!) fun ways to teach your kids about money.
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Image: Christian Wiediger