Toys, rainbows and Peppa Pig: we asked our 4-year-olds to wrap up the content that they’ve loved the most in 2019. It’s amazing to see that unlike us, the next generation’s celebrities really come from on-demand streaming services.
First thing’s first: we do not have cable TV. Shortly after our kids were born we realized that we don’t watch television at all (we were too busy working, serving the babies and using every free minute to sleep).
This matters because it means that our kids are growing up in a content environment which is 100% divorced from what we knew as children – or even what we’re still used to today. Gone is the concept of “what’s on?” — EVERYTHING is “on,” all the time, any time. And anywhere too. An all-you-can-eat right-here-right-now buffet of YouTube, Netflix, and Spotify.
I would estimate that 60% of the content our 4-year-olds consume they found by themselves, during their limited “iPad Time”; another 25% would be something that we introduced to them; 13% is content that they are passionate about because of school or friends at school; and 2% of the content is from G-d-knows-where.
Here’s a completely anecdotal review of a 4-year-old’s content consumption in 2019. PLEASE NOTE: These are not recommendations. In some cases it’s stuff we desperately wish our kids had never seen. But here we go:
1. Ryan’s World (formally known as Ryan’s Toy Review) – YouTube
I read somewhere that YouTubers are becoming the celebrities of the next generation, not TV and movie stars. Judging by the way that my kids randomly discovered Ryan on YouTube and became obsessed only proves it right. Of course it’s not really “random,” algorithms are everywhere.
Ryan has been the center of a YouTube series since he barely even knew how to speak and his family’s videos mostly revolve around Ryan being… a regular kid. Nothing is really special about this, I guess, except no one has really done this kind of video that speak to the kids at eye level and constantly pick up the current trends. Creating YouTube videos on a regular basis is so very cute, and then it becomes a business: With millions of subscribers, this year Ryan’s World partnered up with Target to release merch (yes!) and Ryan also got a show in Nickelodeon (according to the latest news he has made $26 million in 2019). Talk about a kids’ celebrity!
Ryan is adorable. My husband only hopes and prays he doesn’t end up knocking over liquor stores when he’s 20.
True and the Rainbow Kingdom – Netflix
I feel that every parent has to find THE TV show that can keep their toddlers glued to the screen so that they’ll be able to do stuff in the house, have a moment of sanity, or just focus their attention for 20 minutes on something else other than ‘are the kids trying to destroy the house or kill each other?’ – for us this show has been IT.
Discovered, again, randomly, True and the Rainbow Kingdom follows True and her best friend Bartleby the Cat, as they help the whimsical citizens of the Rainbow Kingdom. True is the only one with the ability to activate the magical powers of The Wishes of the Wishing Tree, solve problems in the Rainbow Kingdom, and empower viewers with her imagination and empathy.
The show has proven to have “legs” with our kids. It’s been a whole year and they’ll still watch. It does not stretch the imagination and certainly does nothing for the intellect. But I have praised and blessed True numerous times this year for giving me stress relief for an hour at a time, and would say that she is certainly activating this parent’s wishes.
3. Peppa Pig – YouTube
As far as episodic kids video content, I think Peppa Pig might take the statuette for Content Most Loved by a Combination of Kids And Parents. Originating in the UK, this is a cartoon of the old, non-digital, simple style about the Pig family and their friends, the Rabbit family, the Moles, etc., etc– even Kylie Kangaroo! They are little 5- to 15-minute segments. They are sweet, funny, and warm. And they drop little jokes for us parents along the way that make it work for us too. We’re big fans, and the viral campaign this year to have them add the Bear family (gay dads, baby!) certainly didn’t hurt!
Peppa Pig is a worldwide phenomenon by now, and has spin-off channels like ‘Peppa Pig Surprise’ – every new video of Peppa gets an average of 2.5 million views on its first two days of release. it’s a story haven for toddlers, and in rare cases of addiction, toddlers tend to develop symptoms that include British accent and the dislike of bacon.
4. Music, Music, Music! – Spotify, or Anything Else
We’ve exposed our kids to music from birth. A whole raft of stuff: Today’s Pop, 80’s Pop, British stuff, Americana. Rock, folk, even (shudder) a little Country/Western. I’m coming from Israel, so there’s plenty of stuff from my home country as well. We have pretty much avoided the Itsy Bitsy Spider stuff, though at school it’s unavoidable. Just for fun, this was our kids’ year’s Top 10
- You Need To Calm Down – Taylor Swift
- Zero Gravity – Kate Miller-Heidke
- Juice – Lizzo
- Me! – Taylor Swift and Brandon Urie
- Replay – Tamta
- Old Town Road – Lil Nas X Feat. Billy Ray Cyrus
- Never Really Over – Katy Perry
- Change of Heart (Italiaconnection Remix) – Parralox
- Don’t Start Now – Dua Lipa
- Panini – Lil Nas X
By the way, music videos has proved to be the richest ground of all. Our approach has been to show them exciting stuff, both visually (OK Go!) and in terms of lyrics. They’d even learned which are “bad words” that we don’t say – and they don’t say them. Kind of amazing. They’ve moved on to Taylor Swift videos, old 80s pop, etc., etc. They learn music, lyrics/words, imaginative imagery. We keep our eye out for accidental discovery of violence, but otherwise, we love it, and so do they!
5. Russia Interferes in More than Our Elections! – YouTube
I’m not going to provide links to this crap: There would seem to be weird knock-off attempts of things like Ryan (above), made in other countries. They’re in English but terrible English. I suspect that it’s nothing more nefarious than an attempt to make money. But this kind of content is so bad that it makes one wonder if Vladimir Putin is trying to destroy Western Civilization this way, too. Run away!