When we first started working on the concept for SmartFeed a year ago, there wasn't much out there to help parents find and manage media for their kids. Besides industry leaders Common Sense Media and Children's Technology Review -- who have been helping parents make better media choices for years -- there were not many tools to make the process of finding, customizing, downloading and managing media easier and faster for parents.
But now, it's exciting to see what a focus this area has become - for hardware and software companies alike.
The Wall Street Journal published a story about several new tablets - the Amazon Fire Kids Edition, LeapFrog Epic and Fuhu Nabi Elev-8 - that "entertain and educate and may just leave parents guilt-free." In many ways, I now see tablets as the paper and crayons, or library books, of the next generation. With the right content, parents should NOT feel guilty about handing them over. They should instead feel empowered to use an engaging tool to influence the stories and games kids consume.
We think of it this way: if we can surface so much good stuff that both parents and kids love, we can collectively outshout disappointing media and have real alignment in our homes over screen time. There's an opportunity to shift beyond filtering out the bad stuff toward serving up good, inspiring media.
Companies like Stepping Stones Entertainment are tackling the content problem by actually making their own. According to their website: "As parents ourselves who make films, we know very well the power movies wield. We are here because we believe in using films as a strong influence for the good of families everywhere." This echoes our own mission at SmartFeed: media is powerful, let's harness it to inspire.
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But movies are just a slice of the media pie for kids - more and more kids are experiencing a mash-up of apps, games, TV, short form video and more, for hours, every single day. The recently published Common Sense Census on Media Use by Tweens + Teens points out that "multi-tasking is the new normal" with tweens and teens using between 6-9 hours of media a day, often while studying.
It's nearly impossible for parents to keep up on what their kids are doing with all that time. It was certainly simpler for our own parents: they just turned on Leave it to Beaver or The Brady Bunch for all the kids in the house to watch together....then turned it off when it was over!
All of this new attention around media usage gets me right back to where we started with SmartFeed: with the need to empower parents to simply and easily customize better media for kids. In a constantly changing landscape of options, with kids whose preferences are always evolving, having an ultimate resource to curate, manage, deliver and share is essential.
We think SmartFeed is the answer.