The final school bell rings announcing both summer break and the start of the screen battle between parent and child. Kids fight for time for Netflix streaming, online games, and good old-fashioned TV watching. Parents are often on the defensive, unsure of what kind of media their kids are consuming. What if we had a tool to mediate between parent and child, giving kids needed boundaries and parents the desired peace of mind?
With kids (6-13) consuming, on average, more than nine hours a day of digital media, more and more we’re allowing media to surreptitiously raise our kids. Much of popular kids digital media at best disappoints parents; at worst violates childhood. Parents can create playlists for each child in their household, including movies, TV, apps, and books using the SmartFeed app.
SmartFeed endeavors to help parents take back entertainment by giving them a digital media management tool to easily:
- Curate digital media (apps, TV shows, movies, books, games, music)
- Deliver the content real-time across platforms, devices, and subscriptions
- Manage kids’ usage and connect to what they’re consuming
- Connect to other parents reviews and media parenting experiences
How to Build a List, Watch, and Play
The app is user-friendly, even for the technically unsavvy. Parents create profiles for each child, including age range, interests, academics, and character traits to emphasize (i.e. empathy, creativity, anti-bullying, sportsmanship). Parents set customized levels of violence, sex and nudity, and language for each child. Within a child’s profile, parents begin to build playlists of movies, TV shows, apps, and books.
The selected titles link to a provider source. If a movie is available on Netflix, the “Get” button will send you to your Netflix app to watch instantly. Pathways to iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon allow parents to rent or purchase movies, books, and apps. Put the app on your child’s device and they are ready to engage in parent-approved media. This will prove especially helpful on those long road trips to favorite vacation spots.
My favorite aspect of the SmartFeed app are the expert playlists. Experts create playlists for topics such as Family Values, Old School Faves, and Honesty. These lists are similar to the Hollywood Jesus ranking articles you enjoy here each week. Within the expert lists, parents can filter for age range, provider, and topics. This feature makes it easy to build individualized playlists for your children.
Expert playlists extend beyond The Best of Netflix. Parents and children can create reading lists from ““12 Books Before 12yrs Old” and “Great Books Before Bedtime.” Avoid the summer slide with the Math Apps, Science Apps, and English/Language Arts Apps lists. Increase global awareness with expert lists on immigrants and refugees, global citizenship, and environmentalism.
Using SmartFeed, I can also create a playlist of family-friendly movies to watch during family time. No more flipping through Netflix, scrolling through Amazon, or opening our archaic DVD binder. I simply hop on SmartFeed and select a movie from my Family Movies playlist.
Using the search function, parents can look up specific titles to determine if it is appropriate for their child. The search bar also makes it easy to find media directly related to a topic. For example, a search for poverty uncovers great documentaries such as Living on Dollar, classics like To Kill a Mockingbird, as well as Disney’s Aladdin. Any of these choices would make for a great post-movie discussion on the effects of poverty as well as ways we can make a difference.
SmartFeed rates media in the following areas: positive role models, positive messages, violence and scariness, sex and nudity, and profanity. User reviews are sparse, but SmartFeed provides links to editorial reviews from sites such as Common Sense Media and Kids in Mind. The app includes a community feature to connect parents. Create communities by inviting friends from the website, TheSmartFeed.com.
The SmartFeed app is ideal for parents who want media to serve as more than an electronic babysitter. Use your child’s screen time to build character, sharpen academic skills, and teach them about the wide, wide world.