We live in a digital world. It’s 2018 and some can argue that technology now runs our lives. It’s a common idea that too much technology, such as cell phone use or television, is bad for you. Yet, what if you used that same cellphone with children to promote learning instead of a technological dependency? In this blog post we will observe how listening to podcasts with children can benefit them in different ways. Podcasts have recently began to gain popularity according to reports by both Edison Research, Triton Digital and BI Intelligence. Edison Research and Triton Digital have found that most listeners fall in the range of 18-34 year olds. Yet, the topics presented by podcasts range on a broad spectrum, covering something for every interest and every age. The advantages offered can be seen through engaging imagination, strengthening active listening and generating new knowledge, which are great tools to use especially with children.
The hosts paint pictures with their words, allowing a child’s mind to run wild with imagination and creativity. Instead of being over stimulated by pictures, colors and sounds, children are able to relax a bit more and focus on where their creativity takes them. The best way to compare engaging one’s imagination through a podcast would be to think back on a time that you were listening to someone telling a story. They’re providing details about the setting and describing the event, leaving you to do the rest and visualize what is happening. The importance of engaging and activating the imagination should not be taken lightly.
In an article featured on the Global Digital Citizen Foundation’s website, they outline why creativity is as important as knowledge when it comes to education. They suggest that creative thinkers are more likely to think outside the box. They wouldn’t be limited with the possibility of failure. Creative thinkers are able to view the world differently. It becomes full of opportunities as they challenge and explore everything around them. Promoting these skills in children has become easier when provided with podcasts that fit into your child’s routine. They’ll be able to grow their minds without having the stress of a school classroom or lecture. Podcast listening can also help your child become a better active listener.
Active listening is an extremely important skill that can often be forgotten or neglected. Even as adults, many people can lack this because we’re constantly multitasking. If we struggle with this as adults, you can only imagine how hard it must be for children to hone in on active listening when their imaginations and minds are running at a million miles a minute. Podcasts are able to offer one solution to this problem. When listening to a podcast, people are required to focus their attention on the information being pumped through the speakers or earbuds. From what I have observed, an average children’s podcast usually doesn’t exceed around twenty-five minutes. This time frame is great for keeping children engaged without over exhausting their mental focus.
When one is proficient or advanced at active listening they’ll be able to concentrate, understand and respond, to whatever it is that they’re listening to: be it a teacher lecturing or a casual conversation with a friend. Concentration also takes patience and as the saying goes, “patience is a virtue.” This is a quality all too hard to find now in our technological world of instant gratification. Luckily, we’re able to use technology to fight back at the same battles it has created.
I’ve created a list of six podcasts to serve as a sort of “beginners guide” to help you get started. You’ll find a link to each throughout this post. Those listed, range from being geared towards: children, to nannies, and finally mothers. Each podcast listed follows a consistent posting schedule. Aside from looking forward to new content weekly or biweekly, you will be able to back track and listen to any of the older episodes in their series. Additionally, these are all available free of charge. From my experience I haven’t found many podcasts that charge a subscription fee. If they do charge, it’s often for access to exclusive content, or the series may only be available for streaming on paid networks such as Sirius XM.
The first three podcasts I’ll mention are But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids, Wow in the World and Circle Round. All three of these can be found on NPR’s website and on iTunes.
- But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids
The first mentioned, But Why, explores topics ranging from science, to culture and society. What makes it even more unique are that the guiding questions that spark their exploration, are submitted by their audience. This means that if your little one isn’t able to find an episode they like, they can make their own suggestions. That’s pretty cool, right?
- Wow in the World
Similar to the previous podcast, Wow in the World combines “scientific research and fun” to create content that can be enjoyed by both children and adults. Each episode provides an avenue to explore global science and technology news. It’s a great way for children to learn about the world around them.
- Circle Round
The third NPR podcast, Circle Round, takes a different approach to its content. Rather than focusing on facts, each episode features engaging folktales. These tales are geared towards introducing topics centered around inclusivity. They’re created with the whole family in mind, so everyone can enjoy.
The next three listed are not affiliated with NPR.
Bedtime.fm offers two different series on their website, Story Time and Peace Out. As you can infer from the name, Story Time creates content for toddlers from two years old up to children nearing their tween years. Peace Out also uses storytelling, but in a different way. Each episode helps children focus on relaxation and mindfulness by using breathing exercises and visualization. Peace Out was my personal favorite, play it for your children right before naptime or bedtime to receive second hand relaxation!
- Practically Perfect
As advertised on their website, this podcast is created for nannies by nannies. The content covers a range of interesting and relevant topics. One of their most recent episodes revolves around self-care, something that everyone needs more of!
- The Mom Hour
Last, but most definitely not least, The Mom Hour was created by two mothers. You can tune in and listen to Megan and Sarah, as they post weekly shows to help you on your journey throughout motherhood. Unlike most other podcasts, Mom Hour is not available on iTunes, but can be downloaded for offline listening directly from their website.
It is no surprise that at times it can be difficult to try out something new with children. This is why one must give some planning and thought when it comes to the question of, “how do I introduce this?”. Here is the point at which you become an excellent marketer. Be prepared with a list of podcasts that may interest them. Luckily we’ve provided a list of four that are geared towards creating fun and exciting children’s content. This list can act as a base point, while the search for the perfect podcast becomes more unique.
Generate interest in the podcasts by giving enough information to spark their attention without spoiling the whole thing. For example, in one of the most recent episodes from But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids, they answer many questions regarding fish and the ocean. You may choose to introduce this episode by posing a question yourself, such as “Hey, I was wondering…how do fish swim while they sleep?”. Their curiosity is bound to take over and that’s when you’re able to swoop in with the perfect solution to the question (aka the podcast)! By the time the episode is finished they’ll want to continue onto the next one, and (unlike binge watching Netflix shows) this can be done guilt free because it provides benefits to its audience.
We’ve tackled the question of how to market and introduce podcasts to your children but there’s another issue that must be addressed. I’ve listed out six podcasts but you may be wondering, “how would I actually listen to these?”. Many podcasts, such as most of the ones listed, are actually easy to access, which means you’ll be more likely to utilize them. Most can be heard using: iTunes, android apps, or are available for download from the main website straight to your mobile device. The ease of access opens up many possibilities of when, where and how to listen. You will be in full control to create a listening schedule for yourself or the whole family; whether you download an episode for offline use on a long car ride, or stream via your home speakers through iTunes. Share how you will be planning to access episodes by commenting below!
As you’ve read, podcasts can offer various benefits and are able to target different audiences to do so. But, don’t just take my word for it! Open up your ears to give them a try and let me know what you think. Remember, the list of podcasts provided in this post are meant to acts as a guide. The only person who knows what your children, nannies, or you would enjoy best, is you! If you have specific interests that the podcasts listed don’t seem to touch on let me know; I’ll make an effort to find what you’re looking for. Do you think this might be something you’ll likely try on your next long drive or are there any podcasts that you already listen to? Be sure to share your thoughts, questions and comments. I’d love to hear from you!
Grinapol, Corinne. “Podcast Audience Continues to Rise According to Annual Report.” – Adweek, Adweek, 18 Apr. 2017, www.adweek.com/digital/podcast-audience-continues-to-rise-according-to-annual-report/
Meola, Andrew. “Podcasts are becoming more popular among listeners and advertisers.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 6 June 2016, www.businessinsider.com/podcasts-are-becoming-more-popular-among-listeners-and-advertisers-2016-6.
Watanabe-Crockett , Lee. “Why Is Imagination as Important as Knowledge in Education?” Global Digital Citizen Foundation, 13 Dec. 2017, globaldigitalcitizen.org/imagination-important-knowledge-education