(Small) Children’s Videos During a Pandemic: YouTube – Part 1

Over the next few weeks as families find themselves largely isolated, without the usual support systems, and parents balancing work and child care more video will be watched by children than is the norm. I’ve compiled a list of some of the shows my son enjoys the most from YouTube. Hopefully you’ll find some shows on this list that your child will enjoy too.

Avoiding Dangerous Content

YouTube can be a great resource for entertainment and learning but there is also the danger of exposure (especially for our children) to inappropriate content. I personally haven’t encountered this situation but have heard about it frequently enough from others that before I share some specific recommendations I’d like to also share a few principles that have helped me avoid this sort of content with our son:

  • Origin – Look for videos that are coming from a trusted source. This could be the original content manufacturer or a third party that has shown consistency in delivering quality and authentic videos over an extended period of time.
  • Age – Look for videos that have been on YouTube for some period of time. The longer the content has been on YouTube the less likely it is to have dangerous content – as it remaining online indicates others probably haven’t reported it as dangerous.
  • Views – Look for videos with a high number of views. This indicates that many people have watched the video and that there hasn’t been a determination by the viewers that the content is dangerous.

None of these methods is foolproof but using these three in combination has helped me keep our son clear of disturbing materials.

Mighty Machines

Our son absolutely loves this show. Each episode is about “mighty machines” in a specific context – whether that is collecting garbage, building a road, or on a farm. Its real video of these machines at work with the individual machines being voiced by a few actors to provide a consistent and informative narrative. The episodes are usually 30-40 mins in length. Some of his favorite episodes include:

We’ve watched a number of these videos on Multi Otomoto’s channel. Another source is the Building Machines channel.

Blippi

Another perennial favorite is Blippi. The show features a man dressed cartoonishly, using a high pitched voice, and oftentimes acting quite silly. This is a show parents both love and hate. It can be entertaining and informative but also a bit insanity inducing (for parents).

The episodes tend to be between 10-20 minutes long.

Here are a few of our favorite episodes:

Gecko’s Garage

A gecko interacts with various machines in his garage, performing fixing and painting the machines – mainly trucks. There are a huge number of these videos, they vary in length. The show is a little more subdued than some of the others so whether a child wants to watch the show often depends on their mood. You can watch the show on the official YouTube channel.

What Shows Does Your Child Enjoy?

I’d love to hear what shows/videos your child enjoys on YouTube! Let me also know if this is useful and we can have a Part 2 with a few more favorite channels. 🙂

A Useful Tip: How to Boost Your Laptop Speakers.

Laptops are great. You can take them with you wherever you go – but they tend to lack in the speaker department. Between the cooling fans in the laptops and any background noise in your environment, watching or listening to anything on your laptop can be a real chore.

Sure, you can wear headphones/ear buds and that is often an excellent choice – but what if you want others to hear as well? At some juncture you may need to plug in external speakers – but that sort of defeats the idea of a laptop. You could buy wireless speakers but they are pretty pricey. So is there any affordable option that will allow you to maintain your mobility and increase your laptop’s sound? Yup – and it isn’t just affordable, its free.

In Windows1Sorry folks, I’m not familiar with the process, if there is a process, for doing the same on Mac OS X or Linux. click on Start, then Settings, then Control Panel. You should see a window like this:

A snapshot of Windows Control Panel in Windows 8.
A snapshot of Windows Control Panel in Windows 8.

Yours may appear a little different. If it only has a few icons or looks significantly different, look in the top-right corner. Note how in the window above it says “View by: Large icons” – change whatever it is currently set as to Large icons and your window should more closely match the one above.

Once you’ve done this you’ll need to open the Sound application, so click on Sound. You should see a window like this appear:

This is what the Windows sound application looks like on opening.
This is what the Windows sound application looks like on opening.

Now we need to select the speaker we’ll be working with. In my case, I have three different options – Speakers (High Definition Audio Device), Headphones, and Speakers (USB Multimedia Audio Device). We’ll want to select the Speakers (High Definition Audio Device) and then click Properties at the bottom right of the window. Now a new window should open that looks like this:

This is the Speaker Properties window of the Sound Application.
This is the Speaker Properties window of the Sound Application.

Great! We are almost there. Click on the Enhancements tab. You’ll see a window like this:

Speakers Properties Enhancements Window
Speakers Properties Enhancements Window

Ensure that “Loudness Equalization” is checked. Note the description under “Enhancement Properties”: “Loudness Equalization uses understanding of human hearing to reduce perceived volume differences.” In other words, if you are watching a movie and people are speaking normally and you can hear them fine but then the movie moves to a scene where individuals are whispering, this option will automatically boost the volume of those whispers so they can still be heard by the human ear.

Click OK at the bottom to close out the Speaker Properties window and then OK at the bottom of the Sound Properties window to close it out. Now give it a try – you should notice that your computer’s volume has “appeared” to increase.

The actual max volume your laptop speakers are capable of hasn’t increased, it is just that Windows is now increasing the volume of sounds that previously were being generated at a lower volume.