The kids’ content on most streaming services isn’t particularly well-organized by age — it tends to all be lumped together under, although what’s appropriate for a three-year-old is very different than what’s suitable for a 10-year-old.
Equally problematic for parents — and advertisers — is that services like YouTube Kids don’t promise that some inappropriate content — including ads — won’t make it past the algorithms used to filter adult YouTube content out of the kids’ area.
So it’s refreshing to see news of a new free, ad-supported streaming option that vows to address both of those concerns while engaging, entertaining and even educating kids.
Just-launched Sensical is from Common Sense Networks, the for-profit arm of Common Sense Media, which vets content — including ads — for age appropriateness, and provides reviews and media literacy info for parents.
Sensical’s goal is to “remove every obstacle to accessing a comprehensive, trusted resource for entertaining short-form video from the best possible content creators,” Eric Berger, its CEO, said when the coming launch was announced in December.
“We believe there is a meaningful opportunity for Sensical to fill a massive void in the current ecosystem and for Common Sense Networks to innovate in the space for the long-term benefit of kids and families,” added Jim Steyer, founder and CEO of Common Sense Media.
The app is available across a range of connected devices and both iOS and Android.
The 15,000 or so kid-friendly shows on Sensical, from studios and distribution partners including The Jim Henson Company, WildBrain, ABC Commercial, Big Big Holdings Mattel, CAKE and Zodiak Kids, are organized by age ranges: preschool (ages 2-4), little (5-7) and big kids (8-10). More shows will be added monthly, and kids are automatically moved up when they reach the next age bracket.
Sensical promises to be “worry-free.”
“Child development experts, not algorithms, approve every video of every series, so you can be sure that each minute your kids watch is safe and age-appropriate,” the service explains. “Every series features a Why It’s Sensical overview penned by a childhood education Ph.D., explaining what it’s about, why it was selected, and which key learning benefits it includes.”
Further, Sensicle provides a “ParentZone” in-app dashboard that lets parents create a unique profile for each kid, set cross-device watch-time limits, and view proprietary personalized reports that show the topics kids are watching and what they’re learning, to let and extend the conversation around the shows they are watching, so parents can engage them in conversations around those topics.
As for advertising, the service adheres to the U.S. children’s privacy laws (COPP), is certified by the kidSAFE Seal Program, and states: “Our experts review every sponsor, and Sensical has developed advertising guidelines that adhere to the highest standards for safe kids’ advertising.”
“We believe that safe, appropriate advertising that has been carefully curated to meet our standards, combined with the guidance on advertising and digital literacy that Sensical is uniquely positioned to provide, supports kids in understanding the commercial nature of their world and empowers parents to help their kids make well-informed decisions about their commercial choices.”
Sensical’s home page provides a link to a video with four tips for making kids ad-savvy. (Teach them how to identify ads and the “tricks of the trade,” and to be careful where they click and resist peer pressure.)
The ad load will be capped at seven minutes per hour.
Advertisers can align their ads with age-appropriate content and “co-create original content and programs.”
Let’s hope that this streaming option lives up to its promises.