As nannies and childcare providers, we’ve all heard about the negative impacts of mindless screen time in young people, and how we can make a positive difference in their cognitive development by keeping their screen time limited to educational interfaces. But what if tech could be used to actually help young people grow?
Keeping that in mind, it can be difficult to navigate those boundaries, especially depending on the existing practices within the family you’re working with. If you’ve got a nanny child who is exposed to a lot of undirected screen time and you’d like to introduce them to other ways to investigate the world around them and learn in a fun way, consider showing them children’s podcasts (with prior approval from their parents, of course).
Leela Kids is a simple and straightforward app that could very well prevent some childcare providers from losing their patience after the millionth ‘are we there yet?’. This cool app debuted in 2018 and it curates podcasts and organizes them by subject matter for young people from ages three to 15 years old, and it also presents the content in a kid-friendly way. Leela Kids gives caretakers peace of mind that whatever their charges are listening to is age-appropriate, mostly educational and definitely worthwhile.
Leela Kids was developed in Santa Clara, California by Leela Labs, which launched last year to find better ways to find and listen to podcasts.
Leela Labs founder and CEO Sandeep Jain said he became interested in podcasts after someone suggested an episode of A16Z while he was researching online marketplaces.
“What struck me most was that despite living in the technology hub of the world, my information consumption resources had been limited to Google Search and certain print publications only,” Jain said in an email. “I had no idea that podcasts offered such amazing and relevant content and that I could consume this content while driving, at home, etc.”
Jain surveyed a group of tech-savvy friends and found that only two people out of 20 listened to podcasts.
“I quickly found out why—technology to access them is horribly broken,” he said.
After realizing that even the grown-up version of Leela’s podcast player was hard for his four-year-old son to use, Jain decided to create a kids version. Leela Kids uses both tech and human curation to figure out which shows are best suited to specific ages.
Nannies, parents, and other caregivers might be shocked to see that listening to audio content is enough to keep their kids engaged when the wonders of Netflix and YouTube are just a click away on the same device. Jain says toddlers love listening to stories on the app, however, and that he has even managed to majorly reduce his son’s screen time by playing podcasts during car trips and dinner. The startup plans to make Leela Kids compatible with smart speakers so older toddlers can operate the app themselves.
Parents of older kids, meanwhile, have told Jain that their offspring enjoy Leela Kids because it gives them a new way to discover content besides what they already read or watch.
“Parents and even kids are liking the ‘visual detox’ effect of Leela Kids,” Jain said.
The Leela team did not anticipate that Leela Kids app would be used as a language learning tool until a Taiwanese news site recommended it. After it took off in Taiwan, parents and educators in the Philippines, Hong Kong, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan, and China also began downloading Leela Kids to help kids practice English. As a result, Leela’s editorial team plans to add English teaching content in the future, including podcast episodes about grammar basics and more conversational content.
“Our vision is to make Leela Kids the defacto knowledge and entertainment resource for kids and even for parents,” said Jain.
What do you think about redirecting your nanny charges’ interest in technology towards something like audio storytelling and educational lessons?
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