The world of podcasts is as big as it’s ever been. As of 2016, 21% of Americans age 12 or older say they had listened to a podcast in the past month, reflecting steady incremental growth since 2013 – when this share was 12%. And the growth of this medium means that the doors are opening for families as well. While the majority of podcasts are geared towards adults, our kids are starting to listen as well, and there are more and more kid and family friendly podcasts beginning to get their due.
Podcasts are educational for our kids. Research has shown that children between the ages of seven and 13 respond more creatively to radio stories than to stories shown on television.
Not only are children listening and responding creatively, observations suggest they’re also learning. When Patterson, one of the producers of the children’s science podcast Tumble, conducted a series of focus groups, she found that kids as young as six focused for the duration of her 15-minute show. Minutes after hearing a podcast about spiders, she saw a group of kids huddled around a dead wasp, examining it and debating what had killed it.
Parents concerned about the amount of screen time their kids are getting can also look at listening to podcasts as a learning experience with technology, yet another way that tech has a positive influence on our children. And that power can take the form of family listening as well. In the same way that previous generations would huddle around a radio and listen to news and stories together before television was around, a podcast can play the same role whether we schedule listening time together, or use time in the car to catch up on podcasts.
And while there aren’t nearly enough podcasts for children and family yet, there are quite a few podcasts that you might love that you’d be surprised how much your kids will enjoy as well. Staples like This American Life and Radiolab are excellent examples of educational, top-notch storytelling that regularly provide stories suitable for kids. (And when it’s not suitable, there’s a warning before the show starts.)
As for the podcasts with kids in mind already, there are some great ones out there. Here are a couple of links to help get you started.