Would you believe me if I told you that because of the YouTube Kids app, my kid is trying more foods and making a concerted effort to be healthy?

It’s true.

I’ve had a lot of back and forth feelings about the app. He naturally gravitates to preschool nursery rhymes, which the app makes a little easier than not; but I realize the alternative could be worse.

In some place deep inside, I cringe, because – gosh darn it – he’s 10, and shouldn’t he be more into things his age?! Sigh. And then I remember my 10 year old is not like most…I won’t lie. It’s also the huffs and sighs I hear from the extended family. It’s like I can hear their thoughts: “If I have to hear Humpty Dumpty one more time….”

And it’s always ONE. MORE. TIME.
Repetition is his thing. And sometimes (is it unfair to say, many times?!), it’s annoying.

The kid purchased my old iPad with his CHORE CHART money a while back. Since I wanted him to have a sense of ownership about it – in both having it and using it, I decided not to police his video-watching decisions 24/7 – and because YouTube Kids was an app that was available, I decided to jump on it. Better to skew too young than to have to explain something that would be way over his head, or have him absorb too-adult reality videos too soon.

And so, he’s been making his way through all the preschool nursery rhyme videos. You name it, we’ve heard it for the last several months. He’s hooked into that audio-visual sing-song delivery. It’s an obsessive focus.

As it got to a peak, I started talking to him about other options.

“Have you considered watching other videos?”

“Why don’t you try something new today?”

I didn’t want to squelch his delight or his creative outlet (we all need something to indulge in), but I had had quiet enough of every single version of “Johnny, Johnny” (the little liar – he totally stuffed his face with sugar).

The kid was making some small changes, expanding on his viewing options, but I wanted to implement a couple of bigger changes and see if I could push him in a more challenging direction.

I started with themes. At the beginning of each week, he was allowed to pick something he wanted to learn more about. And I would pull videos in that theme to watch. He could pick some too. It was an exercise in going back and forth, taking turns and offering suggestions. We learned how to grow avocado trees and make blackberry jam. Our conversations grew as we talked about how what was happening in the videos related to our experiences.

(Sounds like we’ll be picking blackberries this coming season, as well as our usual flat of blueberries.)

My next move was springing the siren call of science on him: “Hey, Bubba. Remember, you got that excavation kit for Christmas? I bet we could find something really cool about dinosaurs.” And thanks to Nat Geo Kids, we found a whole slew of dino videos!

I’m getting a little off topic here, but the point is that YouTube Kids has ended up being a really great app for us. In his continued exploration, he’s been learning about different vegetables and fruits – some that aren’t even available in our region – and filing away all the facts.

“Mom, I ate lettuce tonight. A lot of it. Because it’s healthy for me, and I added it as an extra side,” he told me this with so much pride in his voice. (His other side was a pile of French Fries…but it’s a start, right?!)

His Oma (my mom) added, “So, he tells me that lettuce has potassium. It’s amazing what he remembers!”

Well, when you hear it over and over again a hundred times over…

“Good job, man! Lettuce is good!”

“And I also ate a fresh apricot! They’re good in Vitamin C. That will help my body stay healthy.”

I chuckled and pulled him in for a hug, “Yep. That’s right!”

Thank you, YouTube Kids.