Thursday, 23 February 2012

Kidobi - Smart Media for Kids Review

I recently came across Kidobi, an online media library for young children when I was asked to review it and I have to say I am glad I did as I have been very impressed by my experience of using it with Ben, aged 2. Kidobi gives you access to thousands of preschool videos which are categorised by age from 1 to 6+ and the videos cover every educational topic and interest you could possibly think of for preschoolers. The thing I really love about it is that as a parent, it gives you the ability to tailor the content your child watches so that it can meet their educational needs and interests and this in turn can be viewed at their own pace.

Media Library
Topics available range from learning about colours, numbers, letters and shapes to activities which kids love including music and dancing, craft videos on making things such as paper dolls and soap and cooking where you can learn how to make ice cream and sushi amongst other things. In addition to all of these you also get access to familiar shows such as Florie's Dragon and Kerrwhizz too. This gives parents the option to tailor viewing material which is suitable for their child's needs and interests while keeping it entertaining and engaging for them as they learn new things. It breaks away from traditional television viewing which is constrained by set schedules and availability giving you more choices and variety. I have to say I love the craft and cooking videos as much as Ben (if not more) and they are great for giving me new ideas of things to do with him.

When you log on to the site you are given the option to set up your child's profile by filling in name, age etc and selecting an avatar. A maximum of 3 child profiles can be added to a single parent account. In the options section you can customise the experience by setting Family Values which includes Commercialism, Intensity/Scariness, Language and Violence and you can also specify your child's Interests and the areas of the Curriculum you would like to cover such as Language, Maths, Life skills etc.

Set Family Values
To set up a playlist of videos you have the option of using a Playlist Wizard which generates a selection of videos for your child to watch based on the content you wish to include or if you prefer you can select your own videos and create a customised playlist. I did both and while I liked the wizard selection and thought the videos generated were great choices based on my selected content options, I have to say though I prefer being able to select my own list for Ben based on his skill levels and interests but there is definitely value in using the wizard. To aid with my selection of videos I found the list of Popular and Featured videos which are displayed on the Home Page very useful and I came across some great videos here to add to Ben's playlist that I would not necessarily have thought to search for.

Playlist Wizard

Popular and Featured videos with age clearly displayed
The big test for me was how Ben got on with using Kidobi. My initial reservation was mainly due to the fact that despite his proficiency in using my iPad and iPhone, he rarely uses my MacBook so I wasn't sure whether he would see this as an opportunity to start messing about with it and banging on the keyboard which he has been known to do in the past. This was not the case however, the first video I had added to his playlist was Learning Colors: Fun Flying Spaceships! which he loved and seemed to really get into the swing of following along with the instructions and calling out answers to the questions. The next video was a music one called Jump high where you had to follow along and do the actions to the song which he thoroughly enjoyed and had him dancing about the room. Other videos I added included Learn to Count with Shawn the Train, 3D Alphabet and The Alphabet amongst others all of which were well received by Ben and I could see great educational value in.

Ben enjoying watching Juno
One thing worth mentioning is that when you are watching a video to access the parental controls you have to be in full screen mode and then enter in a code which is visible at the top of the screen. From here you have options to add a video to your favourites, rate, block, turn on continuous play, end, return to child's profile, search and exit full screen. It did take me a few minutes to figure out this was how to exit the video.

Parental controls while watching a video
I have to admit I like statistics so I was pleased to see that there is an Activity tab on the child's page where you can view statistics on time spent watching videos, videos viewed recently, most viewed videos, playlists recently made, recently watched and most watched playlists. Along with this you also get a weekly report where you can see what your child has learned each week and suggestions of areas where you can help your child in addition to fun and educational activities, parenting news, interesting articles and learning resources.

I really like the fact that Kidobi gives me a chance to select not only educational material which I believe can help Ben improve his knowledge in key areas of learning but it also gives me a range of fun and interesting activities that we can learn about and then do together and help develop life skills.  Having the ability to adapt it to his needs as his skills grow in certain areas ensures that it always remains beneficial and interesting for him and me too because let's face it how many parents are forced to watch the same kids programmes over and over again because they are repeated so often. I feel that Kidobi gives me an opportunity to kick start Ben's educational learning in a fun, engaging and effective way which he enjoys and is easy and safe for me as a parent to set up (all you need is Adobe Flash Player installed and access to the internet) and use with him. It is my opinion that Kidobi is a fantastic resource for young kids and one I can highly recommend.

If you would like to try Kidobi for yourself  you can sign up for a one month free trial here after which it will cost $3.99 a month.

*Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. I have received a free subscription to Kidobi in exchange for this review but this has in no way biased my opinion - I think it is a fantastic resource for young children and one I can highly recommend.

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