YouTube Kids by Google – a Must Have Free App for Families



iPhone Screenshot 1

What we love…

Timer feature, how easy it is for kids to use, filled with child safe videos, gives children new ideas on creative and educational videos to watch

What we’d love to see…

Stronger parental gate, ability to add your own favorites, saved searches, offline viewing, ability to create your own playlists

Summary

I think this app is a must have for any family that lets children watch videos on an iPad or iPhone. The app isn’t perfect but it is a huge improvement on using the native YouTube app for kids. Download this free app today!

Our Rating

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YouTube KidsMany kids love watching videos on YouTube but for parents it can be a scary place, as there are many videos you would not want your child watching. Even ones that have their favorite subjects matter such as Minecraft can surprise you by including swearing and inappropriate content. The new YouTube Kids app from Google is an attempt to provide a safer more child-friendly environment for kids to watch YouTube videos.

I introduced my 7 year-old son to the app when it first came out and he loves it. It is very easy for a child to navigate and includes features that parents will appreciate. The videos within the app are screened to be child friendly, and if you find any that are not you can report them directly from the app. There are still adverts, but at least they are for child-friendly products such as kids TV shows.

One feature I love (and my son hates!) is that there is a built-in timer feature so the parent can set how long the child is allowed to watch for. If you combine this with guided access then the iPad is effectively disabled at the end of the timed period. The one fault with this is the parental gate that lets you access the timer is too easy. The app says e.g. four, seven, six, three and you have to enter 4763, I would like to see this replaced with a password or passcode that the parent sets.

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The app has 6 sections: recommended (based on your previous watching history), shows, music, learning, explore and search.

Shows

The shows sections displays popular kids channels such as Thomas & Friends,  Sesame Street, Peppa Pig, Babar, Reading Rainbow and Disney Shorts. Tapping on any of these channels allows you to browse and select videos from them.

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Music

Here kids can explore channels specializing in kid-friendly music videos.

Learning

This is a really cool section that introduces child-friendly educational channels such as PBS KIDS, Incredible Science, the Khan Academy, It’s Okay to be Smart and TedEd. I love this section as it makes it easy for my kids to find videos they enjoy but they are also learning at the same time.

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Explore

This includes channels on subjects such as arts, crafts, Lego, kids yoga and cooking, as well as topical news and fun stuff such as cat and puppy videos.

Search

Parents can switch off search in the settings but when it is enabled the child can search for child friendly videos by typing the subject they are looking for or by saying it. My son loves to be able to search for his favorite characters just by saying their name. I’m also having fun with this section finding all the old videos I used to watch as a kid, even though I grew up on an entirely different continent I can easily my old favorites such as Roobarb and Custard, Noah and Nelly, The Clangers and Ivor the Engine – a real trip down memory lane!

I think this app is a must have for any family that lets children watch videos on an iPad or iPhone. The app isn’t perfect, there are some features I would love to see added in future updates- the ability to add your own favorites list of videos and channels, saved searches, a stronger parental gate, ability to download favorites for offline viewing and the ability to create playlists for your children, but that said it is a huge improvement on using the native YouTube app for kids. I love how easy it is for kids to use, the fact that it is filled with child safe videos, it gives children new ideas on creative and educational videos to watch, the timer feature and how easy the search option is to use.

YouTube Kids – Google, Inc.


YouTube Kids YouTube Kids by Google LLC

Price: $FREE

A world of learning and fun, made just for kids

We created YouTube Kids to make it safer and simpler for kids to explore the world through online video – from their favorite shows and music to.



Telestory by Launchpad Toys – Review




iPad Screenshot 1

What we love…

easy to use; great graphics, sound effects, and animation; makes use of both front and back cameras; bolsters creativity; gets kids to act and interact with each other, useful in speech therapy

What we’d love to see…

a way for children to draw costumes and props, make scripts viewable

Summary

A brilliant, fun, and educational video recording app that allows children to express their creativity by writing, directing, and starring on their own show.

Our Rating

TeleStoryMy children love to take selfie videos.  My 7 year old and 9 year old already have hundreds of them and they undoubtedly have hundreds more to come.  Thanks to the invention of the iPad and other similar devices, making videos have never been easier.  Not a day goes by without at least one of my kids making a recording, and I have been truly amazed at the creativity it unleashes in them.  So it didn’t come as a surprise to me when they asked me for Telestory, the newest app from Launchpad Toys, developers of the award winning Toontastic and Toontastic Jr.

TeleStory allows children to direct, write, and star on their very own movie or tv show. It currently comes with four themes: Eye Spy, The Band, the News and Space Adventure.  Each theme comes with four to five scenes with props, and an “empty shot” scene without props.  Four themes may not sound like a lot, but you would be surprised at just how many different videos children can come up with simply by mix matching scenes and by using their imagination.  Since downloading this, my kids have already created over a dozen videos, each one remarkably different from the others.

iPad Screenshot 3To make a movie, first pick a theme.  Then, pick a scene and choose a script to go with it.  You can either choose a pre-written script or write one of your own. After picking or writing a script,it is now time to record the scene. Every scene comes with two camera angles, two sound effects and/or animations, and a variety of costumes.  Set up your characters by choosing a costume. Depending on the scene, you may have one or two characters, one for each camera angle.  Once you have finished choosing costumes for your characters, press start to record the scene.  You have up to one minute to record and you can change camera angles/characters as often as you wish.  After the recording is finished, you can watch your newly created scene.  If you are not happy with your scene, you can redo it before moving on to the next one.

Your movie can have many scenes or just one scene.  It’s all up to you.  Once you have all the scenes you need, press the red button with a scene marker.  You will be asked to provide a movie title and the director’s name.  You will also have the option to save your movie on the camera roll and/or share it on Toontube, Launchpad Toys’ movie sharing site. If your movie isn’t quite finished yet, simply leave the sharing options unchecked.  Your movie will be saved in-app so that you can edit and finish it later on.

I would like to point out that the costumes are designed to follow the actor around on camera.  This is a fantastic feature, but it works best if you stay as still as possible.  Children move around a lot when they film so you will find the costumes are off quite a bit as it has hard time catching up to them.  Even when making tiny movements you can still see a lag on the costumes.  Fortunately, my kids were focused on just being silly and having fun making their movies that this didn’t bother them at all.

iPad Screenshot 5TeleStory’s main purpose is to bolster children’s creativity.  Indeed, I have been amused at the different characters and movie scenarios my kids have created as well as at the funny dialogues they come up with.  To my delight, TeleStory has also been very beneficial for my son who has autism.  It provides him a fun way to practice his articulation.  It is also incredibly helpful in improving his conversation and communication skills.

For future updates, I think it would be great if children can draw and save their own costumes and props.  This way they can create more characters and perhaps be able to choose a prop to use on the empty shot scene.  TeleStory have just updated to include a new scene called “The News” and I would love to see even more scenes in the future.  I would also like a way to view the scripts the children write or choose for their movie.

TeleStory is brilliant, educational, and in my 7 year old’ swords, superfun! It gets kids acting and interacting with each other.  It is a great way to get them thinking out of the box, or in this case, out of the iPad. I highly recommend checking it out.

 

TeleStory – Launchpad Toys

TeleStory TeleStory by Launchpad Toys

Price: $FREE

*App Store - Best of 2014*

Write, direct, and star in your own TV show with TeleStory!

From the creators of Toontastic (iTunes Hall of Fame, NY Times "Top 10 iPad Apps"), TeleStory takes.

 



Kids? Panic! by DM Media Pty Ltd – Review



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What we love…

child friendly app that provides access to video’s that are appropriate for children with instant loading of the next video which makes it perfect for those moments when you need five minutes to yourself

What we’d love to see…

stronger parental gate, ability to choose your own video’s based on the pre-selected ones available within the app.  Also would like to see the ability to turn off access to the video’s unless on a wi-fi network since data charges could accrue quickly

Summary

Easy to use, child friendly although you do need to be aware of data charges if using a 3G network

Our Rating

Kids? Panic by DM Media Party Ltd is a universal app for iOS which links to child-appropriate YouTube video’s such as television shows, songs, nursery rhymes and more with each video being five minutes or less.  The app is simple to operate with a “panic” button on the main screen which when touched launches the video via YouTube.  Parents should be aware that the app does use data so if they do not want to use it with their data plans they will need to ensure that children do not have access to the app.

I liked that all of the video’s selected within the app were child friendly, although when I attempted to watch them to ensure they were appropriate it took quite a long time to make my way through all of them.    Once the video finishes, the next one begins immediately (although I would like to see a 30 gap to ensure that you can have a break in between) to ensure that your child continues to have access to the video’s.  This app was very helpful recently when I was on a quick but important telephone conversation and I was able to just hand the phone to my son to ensure that I had a few moments of peace.  Of note, parents can enable guided access on their device to ensure that children stay within the app which is helpful especially for younger children.

In terms of enhancements, I would like to see an option where parents can choose if they want to run the video’s via a 3G network or only via wifi.  If children got access to this app, data charges could add up very quickly since it uses YouTube video’s for the app.  I’d also like to see a more difficult parental lock as the 1-2-3-4 combination is fairly easy for older preschoolers and children to figure out especially if they see their parents do it.  Perhaps randomizing it to a random pattern of numbers (what is 1+3) help to ensure children did not accidentally gain access.  In addition, it would be helpful if the user could select the video’s they wished for their child to see.  Currently you can see a selection of which video’s are available, however, there is no way to create a “playlist” of favorites from the chosen video’s.  There were some video’s which I wished I could have excluded, but currently there is no way to do this.  I also think the title of the app is a bit misleading and may make it difficult for parents to find in the app store.

Overall, the app provides access to child friendly video’s in an easy to use interface.  I do recommend that a parental gate be installed to allow parents to create a playlist of video’s which they deem appropriate from the ones available within the app which would eliminate the need for the current 1-2-3-4 parental lock which children have been able to figure out after seeing their parents use it.  I also feel that there should be a setting which will not allow video’s to play over 3G unless the parent has specifically given permission for them to do so from within a parent protected area.

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Requirements: Compatible with
Size: 0 MB

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NOTE: A fee was received to expedite this review to the top of our waiting list but this payment has not influenced the objectivity of the review and all opinions have been offered honestly.