Quality Programming for Screen Time with Kids.

This post is sponsored by Toca TV – thanks for your continued support of Daily Garnish!

Now that the kids are getting older (sob), we are starting to have to craft some rules around things like screen time.  I like to think I’m not overly psycho about limitations and restrictions, but at the same time I like to be careful that the kids don’t have their heads down in electronics for half the day.

It’s such a tricky balance, and a relatively new problem that parents are facing these days with electronics literally everywhere.  Our kids generally get to watch a show before school each day while I finish getting ready and getting lunches packed.  And now that Cullen doesn’t nap anymore, he gets to do 30-60 minutes of the iPad every afternoon after quiet time (while Graham is napping).

IMG_5793 (427x640)

Realistically, Casey and I are running a business, running a household, and we both have things on the side as well (like this blog!) that take a lot of time and work.  And so sometimes we need to be able to park the kids in front of the iPad in order to get something done – it is what it is.  Instead of worrying as much about quantity, especially when we are feeling spread very thin, I try to focus on quality of programming.  While I do think limitations are important, I also think electronics can be great learning tools for kids these days. 

One program we love for the boys on the iPad is Toca Boca.

5524147672_b846b99694_z 

The Toca Boca apps are all designed for imaginative, open-ended play.  My kids’ favorites include Toca Train, Toca Cars, and Toca Blocks – where kids can be the drivers and creators, and see what sort of obstacles they encounter as they drive around the Toca worlds.

9796993256_45f5ab507a_z

Apart from the widely successful apps, Toca Boca recently launched it’s first video streaming service for kids – Toca TV!  Toca TV offers thousands of curated videos kids are sure to love in a 100% ad-free, safe and fun environment.

Like all Toca Boca apps, Toca TV was designed from the kid’s perspective.  A few key features include:

  • Peace of mind for parents! Each video is watched by a member of the Toca team to make sure it’s right for kids.  No inappropriate content. 
  • No third-party advertising or sponsored content — this is my favorite feature!  I never let the kids use YouTube themselves because there are so many opportunities for clicks that can lead to unsafe places. 
  • The kids won’t just sit back and watch. With Toca TV, kids can get in on the fun, filming their own videos with our recording tool and silly animated filters – very interactive!
  • Toca TV is available on the App Store for iPad and iPhone.

I downloaded Toca TV last week to see what the kids thought of it.  Needless to say, it was an instant hit.  The platform was really easy to navigate, with video icons and previews available for kids to choose what they want to see.

IMG_5796 (640x427)

The videos were long enough for me to run around and switch loads of laundry, prep lunch, and get a few other things done.  But not so long that I was having to cut them off halfway through resulting in an inevitable meltdown. 

IMG_5806 (427x640)

Some of the videos are more cartoon-like and just plot-based, while others have science-themes, really interesting motion reels, and neat tutorials on projects and games.  A lot of the videos reminded me of the little snippets they used to include in old school Sesame Street – things like “how crayons are made” – remember those? 

I found myself totally mesmerized right along with the kids on one of the Toca TV videos of setting up different lines of dominoes.  And as soon as it was over, the kids ran into the playroom to set up their own dominoes, so it sparked creative play which I always love to see. 

IMG_5799 (640x427)

Like all things with kids, I think screens and electronics are something we have to sort of figure out as we go.  I try to remind myself that everything ebbs and flows.  During this rainy winter season, they might watch more TV than usual. And when summer comes around they will be back outside for 90% of the day again. 

But for now, while we are inside and staring out at gloomy skies, I find peace in knowing that there is quality programming available for kids like Toca TV. 

IMG_5812 (427x640)

Toca TV is a subscription based app that costs $4.99 per month.  The first 100 readers who subscribe using the code DAILYGARNISH will get their first month for FREE!  Valid for first time subscribers only, worldwide except China.

Hope you guys are having a great week!