Wie want our kids to be safe when navigating the internet, which isn’t always easy. Especially when it comes to what the little ones get to watch online, you want to have control and a good feeling.
Thankfully the internet isn’t as much the wild west anymore, as it used to be. And there are some great platforms that have amazing and safe content for your children. In order to make this guide easier for your to look through, we have grouped the different services into age brackets. This allows you to see which platforms are right for you, in an instance.
How did we chose the best Streaming Service for Kids?
There are several factors we considered when choosing the best streaming service for kids in each age group.
- One is content, both quantity and quality. Some services allow user generated content, which means you get a lot of videos but the quality tends to drop. Also, some services have very well produced exclusive content, they produce themselves.
- Another factor we take into account is safety. While some platforms are more open and therefore more likely to allow inappropriate content, other services are very closed-off and curate their content very diligently. For this point we have also reviewed what parents have said about their experiences with each app and if they have ever encountered age-inappropriate content.
- The last factor are parental controls and options: How much are parents able to curate and control the content their children get to watch? Some channels will let you customise the shows to a high degree, while others don’t have any parental controls at all.
Age 2 and up
Winner: Netflix Kids
Over the years Netflix has been pretty diligent about making sure that parent’s have full control over what their kids are consuming on their platform. It’s pretty easy to set up restrictions and keep “grown-up” content out of reach for children.
But Netflix is also just a great service in terms of the kid’s programming you can find on there. They offer tons of original shows that you won’t find anywhere else, with big names among them.
Netflix is very dedicated to kid’s programming. 60 percent of their user use Netflix Kids, so it is clearly a big part of their strategy. So it makes sense that the streaming giant would put a lot of effort into putting out quality kid’s content. They have partnerships with a huge number of studios and produce titles that vary greatly in genre, target age, animation style, and theme.
For little kids you will find such programs as Ask the Storybots, Care Bears & Cousins, Justin Time GO!, Pocoyo and much, much more. For older kids there are programs such as
How Safe is Netflix Kids?
If you set up parental controls on Netflix it’s actually a very safe environment for your kids. Netflix produces and buys tons of quality children’s content and has pretty tough restrictions. There is no user generated content.
There are quite a few options for parents in terms of parent controls, that we will get into below. But genereally you can consider Netflix Kids a good way to monitor what you children are watching, because since it is a dedicated app with pre-selected content, there is no way for your kid to stumble over something they are not supposed to see.
Parental Controls on Netflix Kids
We have actually written up a whole article on how to set up the parental controls on Netflix Kids. Netflix expanded parental controls over time and now gives you the ability to set lock down individual titles.In this article we will show you step by step how you can lock down specific movies and TV shows that are not suitable for your children.
Other parental controls you have access to: You can set a maturity level. Whenever your kid tries to watch content above said maturity level, a 4-digit pin that has to be entered.
There are four maturity levels you can choose from: Little Kids, Older Kids, Teens and Adults. Depending on that maturity level, you have to enter the pin for different content types. If you go with Little Kids you have to enter the pin for every piece of content, if you set up Older Kids you will have to enter the pin every time something for kids over PG rating is chosen, Teens will make you enter a pin for content PG13 or over and Adult everything that is 16+.
Runner Up: Sling TV Orange with Kids Extra
Sling TV is a lot more than just a service you can consider for children’s entertainment. Rather it is a service for streaming Live TV . It starts at $25 a month, so really only makes sense if you are already in the market for a Live TV service.
If you need Live TV streaming anyway, however, you should definitely consider Sling Orange, because it has a bunch of kid’s TV included and allows you to add a kid specific package as well.
Kid’s Extra adds the channels Disney Junior, Disney XD, Nick Jr, Nicktoons, TeenNick, Boomerang, Baby TV and Duck TV Blue for a relatively modest $5.
Is Sling TV Safe for Kids?
Sling TV is as safe as your cable provider would be. So think of it as you would, leaving your kid alone in front of the TV. So, as long as you view it from that light and give your kid as much freedom you would with a normal cable TV, you’ll be fine.
The good news: Sling TV has very robust parental controls that are pretty simpel to set up and will give you control over the content your kids are able to consume.
Parental Controls on Sling TV
Sling TV gives you a host of parental controls to choose from. All of them are locked through a passcode you set up. You can lock content through its rating from G to PG, followed by PG-13, R and Unrated. You can also lock purchases you have made, such as movies and TV shows.
To make your life more easy, the parental controls you have set up are automatically saved on every device that’s logged in to Sling TV.
Age 4 and up
Winner: YouTube Kids
YouTube Kids is a dedicated app, that allows users to access filtered content from YouTube, that is geard towards children. The app features popular brands such as Morph, Teletubbies, Wallace & Gromit, and Peppa the Pig.
The app is divided into four content categories; “Recommended”, “Shows”, “Music”, and “Learning”. The categories feature curated selections of content from channels deemed appropriate for children.
Parental Controls on YouTube Kids
Parents can set time limits, and restrict users from accessing the search tool. They can also program a passcode or their Google account to protect the settings, and configure profiles for multiple users. This allows you to have accounts dedicated to kids of different ages.
You can also set age restrictions: The Younger Content Setting is more children under 8 and includes content geared towards preschool children and elementary school children. The Older Content Setting contains content appropriate for children from 8 to 12.
For more control, parents can customize exactly what videos their children see by creating an account with the “Approved Content Only” setting, where parents whitelist specific channels and videos that kids can view. Kids can set their own passcode to keep siblings out of their profile, but parents can override it or create it themselves.
How Safe is Youtube Kids?
There has been some controversy surrounding YouTube because of inappropriate content being seen by kids. The good thing is YouTube Kids is an independent app, that only shows filtered content, appropriate for kids.
However there have been cases of inappropriate content slipping through. YouTube generally does a good job filtering both by using algorithms as well as manual filtering. And users can very easily flag inappropriate content. Still, since the platform is reliant on user generated content, der is inherently a degree of risk involved.
One way to decrease this risk is the subscription service YouTube premium, that allows you to download content for offline viewing. This way you don’t have to worry about content showing up, that you were not able to pre-screen. And you won’t have to rely on YouTube’s auto-suggestions for new content.
Also YouTube Premium contains original series produced by YouTube and specifically oriented towards kids such as Big Scene, Fruit Ninja: Frenzy Force, Hyperlinked, and Kings of Atlantis.
Runner Up: Amazon FreeTime Unlimited
If you use Amazon Prime you have the extra-service Amazon FreeTime already included. This allows you to sort the content you’ve purchased and curate what your kids get to watch. Since Amazon Prime offers more than just video, your kids can also devour books, educational apps and games. Thanks to the pretty safe Amazon platform it’s all very regulated and there is no user generated content like on YouTube.
However, if you want content in the vein of Netflix or YouTube, instead of buying it piecemeal you are going to have to add the monthly subscription service Amazon FreeTime Unlimited. This will give you access to thousands of titles.
Tip: If you’ve purchased a Fire HD Kids Tablet, you’ll receive one year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited free.
How Safe is Amazon Free Time Unlimited?
Since the content is purchased by Amazon directly and they don’t have user generated content, Amazon Free Time Unlimited is a pretty secure option. The Amazon Prime user interface is very intuitive and gives you tons of options. Amazon Free Time Unlimited is also ad-free.
The content is appropriate for children from 3 to 12.
Parental Controls on Amazon FreeTime Unlimited
Amazon FreeTime unlimited allows you to remove unwanted content. You can also specifically search for content and remove it from your child’s playlist. The settings allow you to set a password, in order to make sure your kid can’t change anything without you knowing.
You can also limit the time your kids can consume certain contents, like movies or games, or even just let them access it after they have achieved an educational goal. There is also a “bedtime”-setting, that allows you to set a time, at which the app will shut off automatically.
Age 6 and up
Winner: Disney Now
DisneyNOW is a streaming app, that allows you to watch content from the Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, and Radio Disney and also gives access to computer games.
There are parental controls that allow you to limit the content to only Disney Junior content, however there is no parent gate, so it is possible for kids to figure out how to change the settings. Still, the shows and movies are what you’d presume from Disney. Depending on the channel there is some more teen-appropriate content. Also content does change regularly, so you might want to check in every so often, to make sure, its appropriate for your kid.
But the app has a lot of very popular brands such as a Black Panther animated series, Spider-Man, DuckTales, The Lion King and much more in store. So as long as you make sure to keep an eye on what your kid is watching it’s a great addition.
How Safe is DisneyNow?
There is not really any inappropriate content on DisneyNow. Unlike for example Netflix, were it is very unlikely for a kid to be able to view adult shows, they are still on the platform. DisneyNow however, is a purely kid’s platform. However their parental controls have been described as less satisfactory compared to other platforms.
While we do think DisneyNow is generally safe for kids, we do recommend having an eye on the app. Content is subject to change and there is more teen-approrpriate content that includes mild cartoon violence and teen romance.
Parental Controls on DisneyNow
Parental controls on DisneyNow are not ideal. This is why,event though they have a lot of content for all ages, we would recommend not letting small children use the app, especially, when you’re not watching with them.
You can set up accounts with age restrictions, U, PG or 12, gated through a pin code. But parents have noted, that children have been able to still watch content not matching their age.
Age 8 – 12
Winner: YouTube Kids
This is basically the same app we talked about before, however, set to Older Content Setting, which expands the content available to watch considerably. The user-interface is the same, but you will find much more content not appropriate for little kids. Some of that content includes some popular music and gaming videos.
Parental Controls on YouTube Kids
The parental controls on YouTube Kids are the same, regardless of the age restriction you have set up. You will set up a passcode, that allows you to access all parental controls and keep your kids from changing them. Once that is done, you can set time limits, that keep your kid from sitting in front of the screen all day long and also restrict them from using the search bar.
Another great parental conrol tool is the setting “Approved Content Only”, which allows you to whitelist specific channels and videos and keep them from watching anything you have not set up beforehand.
How Safe is Youtube Kids?
As we have said before, YouTube has been in some trouble concerning their content. It is a platform that runs on user generated content. And event though they have algorithms and human resources in place to make sure nothing inappropriate ends up on the platform, their system has been far from perfect in the past.
Users can very easily flag inappropriate content and in most cases any type of questionable content will be deleted very quickly. But the fact remains, that user generated content will always be more potentially iffy than pre-curated content.
As we said before, there is also the option to subscribe to YouTube premium. With YouTube premium you can view content offline and therefore mitigate the risk of your kid stumbling over anything inappropriate, while browsing.
Runner-Up: Cartoon Network
Cartoon Network has a dedicated app, that offers about 25 exclusive shows, from its roster, like like Adventure Time, Steven Universe and Ben 10. These are definitely catered towards older kids and young teens.
This streaming video app works in two different modes. You can just use it and get a small amount of content, or you can authenticate with your cable provider like Comcast Xfinity and get full access to all available Cartoon Network shows.
Is Cartoon Network App Safe for kids?
If you are feeling good about your kid watching Cartoon Network, you will be fine with them having access to the Cartoon Network App. The content on there is a selection of what’s available on the TV channel.
Be aware, however, they will have to deal with a lot of commercials. Users experienced up to a minute of ads before a show starts and interstitials during the shows as well as more ads afterwards. Make sure you are comfortable with the type and amount of advertisement.
A big hurdle with Cartoon Network: There are not parental controls, so you should definitely make sure that you are good with your kids watching all of the available shows. There is a lot of gross-out humor and innuendo-laden dialogue and imagery.
Parental Controls on Cartoon Network App
There are none. You can, however, kick shows you don’t like off the playlists.