I'm a mother of three adopted boys; I love all things computer science; and I'm a former teacher and administrator. Love wins.
There are lots of articles recommending the best YouTube channels for kids. This is not a recommendation. The purpose of this article is to provide some insight into what your kids are likely watching when they stumble upon videos by means of any typical search on YouTube, in case you don’t have the time to constantly watch over their shoulders.
How do I know this? My kids don’t watch TV. When they are allowed screen time, they watch YouTube. This started when they were younger and would need me to help them enter a couple of different search words for whatever presented as that day’s interest (garbage trucks, water slides, etc.). Shortly after, I was no longer needed to help them locate desired videos because their feeds were populated with videos from the channels I will name below. And because I sit in the room with my kids when they’re watching YouTube on their iPads, I’ve become pretty familiar with the content of the channels they’re visiting repeatedly.
These channels seem to be geared at children ages 4–7, give or take. There are also several different channels aimed at slightly older kids (i.e., Seven Super Girls, DobreBrothers, etc.), but I’ll review those in a later post.
The channels are broken up by genre.
Toy Review Channels
This is probably the most well-known kids’ channel on YouTube. Basically, Ryan is a child who unboxes toys in his home, then plays with them on camera. His parents and younger siblings are in the videos. As interest in Ryan grew, the channel spun off into Ryan’s Family Review, which follows Ryan and his family on adventures, like trips to Great Wolfe Lodge and Japan.
Ryan’s dad is an engineer. His mom produces and narrates the videos, and you have to give her credit for her boundless enthusiasm. The videos are by no means educational, but they’re also not the most inane thing kids could be watching on YouTube . . . if you can mentally get past the fact that he’s a 7-year old making 11 million dollars a year.
There is another popular spin-off channel in this vein called Princess ToysReview. Princess T is Ryan’s aunt.
These are unboxing and review similar to Ryan’s videos. The boy is about Ryan’s age, but the videos are a bit more staged, in that viewers are not typically getting a tour of the house, and the whole family doesn’t usually participate in the filming. He does appear with this older sister in several videos. They also have several of the recently popular “challenge” videos, such as food tasting (ex. compare a gummy hot dog to a real hot dog). And compared to Ryan, he is only worth a measly 8.6 million.
This is another popular channel that shows toys being unboxed, but the adults that make the video only narrate from off-camera. Because there are no people on screen, the toys are center stage, and they can spend time highlighting each toy’s nitty-gritty detail, which is surprisingly gratifying.
Kids Acting in Skits
Toys and Colors
This series of videos features adorable little girls Jannie, Wendy, and Emma, with a couple of uncles and an aunt acting out skits that utilize toys in real-life situations (for example, running an ice cream store with play ice cream or playing in a band with plastic instruments). Everyone is nice enough, but the plots and dialogue tend to be a bit vapid. I wouldn’t say this channel is helping to create honor-roll students, but no harm done.
Other honorable mentions in this category are the channels Goo Goo Colors and FamousTubeKids.
What You and Your Friends Used to Do When You Played with Toys
Come and Play With Me
Two girls playing with dolls. The toys star in different scenes (i.e., Barbie and Elsa during a typical day living inside Barbie’s Dream House), and the girls providing the voices are off-camera. I’m a little embarrassed to admit how much I like this channel. My husband finds the girls’ voices annoying, but I think they’re charming (maybe because it takes me back to playing with my girlfriends as a child). They create adorable plots and dialogue, and their acting is so sincere, it’s hard not to love them.
Another popular channel in this category is Genevieve’s Playhouse.
Fun With Family Fun Pack
I can’t figure out if I want to be the mom in these videos, or if I just want her to adopt me. This channel showcases the life of a couple raising six kids. We learn their routines, we get to participate in their family game nights, we get to know each of the children’s personalities and all the things they do for fun.
You feel like you’re part of a big, warm family when you watch this. Everyone is polite and respectful to one another, and you get the sense that life with them is legitimately this harmonious even when the camera is off. Super Mom and her laid-back, creative, and nurturing parenting style drives this show.
Steve and Maggie
The characters in these videos hail from the UK: grown-up Steve and his pet crow, Maggie. The objective seems to be learning English, so there is a lot of repetition, vocabulary, and there are plenty of entertaining, original songs. Plucky Maggie gets Steve into some funny situations. The Halloween special is a favorite.
Twenty-eight-year old Stevin John, known as Blippi, writes and stars in this series of quality educational videos for toddlers. His signature cap, suspenders, and big red glasses have become a brand. The video topics are high-interest with this age group; for example, spend a day on a farm, at the zoo, or driving a construction vehicle. He’s a one-man Sesame Street show. Kids love Blippi. As far as adults are concerned, he bears a striking resemblance to actor Ryan Eggold in The Blacklist, so it’s hard not to think of Tom Keen riding that tractor.
Little Baby Bum and Mother Goose Club
These are two high-production-value channels with classic nursery rhymes and songs. Little Baby Bum is animated, while Mother Goose Club uses professional actors. Both are also featured on Netflix.
I want to issue a warning here about some of the very popular Spiderman and Elsa videos. Check back for my next post where I’ll be reviewing the creepiest videos your kids are watching on YouTube.
Eshal Tahir on July 06, 2020:
Definitely not going through my life I hope you’re having fun with family and friends I love you Sam was your birthday day today hope your kids love and love to love and you family friends friends who are you love and you family love love family friends friends who are love love to family love love family friends friends who are love you so good hope your friends love and you have family love and you have ever heard from us you and have a good time to call and family love and you have family
Tiffany on June 05, 2020:
Came across this article just now in 2020. I'm an adult that's too familiar with these kids channels because I tutor young kids. I feel like you can never satisfy all parents. I agree that some adults in Toys and Colors don't have excellent grammar but I assume English is a second language for them. So good for them that they are bilingual! The kids in their vids are cute and English is their first language. So your kids are more likely learning and copying the kids and not the adults. Regarding the comments about them being immigrants I think it's a bit mislabeled. They are non-white Americans. Americans are diverse. To parents who think that it's not important to teach their kids diversity at a young age... Kids learn what's right and what's wrong at a very young age. The more exposure they have to diversity the more more normal and more comfortable they will be around it.
Alvina Appleton on November 29, 2019:
if you want your kids to be nice you should make them watch daniel tiger badanamu blippi is 28 dont watch that steve and maggi too i dont think toys and colors are bad dont hate imirgarants too
Yoda G on November 29, 2019:
Seriously? Kids are just learning English and you're upset because we dont like shows featuring broken English? The kids are just learning to go potty and your suggestion is to pontificate to them the importance of diversity? That sound ridiculous ( thats how you spell it) My kids love blippi and steve and maggi. CKN is somewhat entertaining to them as they get older.
Ysa on May 08, 2019:
My niece loves badanamu...i think, its educational too.
Munky on January 15, 2019:
How about teach your kids to be nice and understand immigrants. And last time i checked u do need money to buy something at the store. Lmao. Its a kids channel you sound rediculous
Jennifer Cox on December 01, 2018:
Never let yout kid watch “toys and colors” channel. This ridiculous site produces videos in horridly broken English (I’m a Democrat don’t hate immigrants) but this is absurd these people teach children bad manners (“no money oh no you need money right now ok” serious quote) and should never reach any child’s ears