The best kids’ shows that locked-down parents can enjoy, too

Some programming is suitable for all ages.
Some programming is suitable for all ages.
Image: Reuters/Mike Blake
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The global pandemic has turned millions of parents into 24/7 caregivers and teachers, in addition to juggling their own full-times jobs. Given the unprecedented circumstances, many have resorted to watching a little more television than usual.

Even though most pediatric authorities recommend limiting screen time—especially for children under 5—even they say it’s okay to be more lenient when you need to be. And there are ways to make the most of television. As Quartz previously reported, watching shows with your kids can be a way to reinforce any lessons the shows bring up. They can also become a topic of conversation to have with your kids during offline time, which should be scheduled just like time in front of the television.

There’s plenty of kid-friendly content out there—Amazon Prime just made all of its children’s content available for free—and some shows are made for adults to relate to as well. We think you’ll like the following options and enjoy them with your kiddos, too.

Kipo and the Age of the Wonderbeasts

Seasons: 1

Episode length: 24 minutes

Available on: Netflix

Plot summary: Kipo is a 13-year-old girl living in a post-apocalyptic world 200 years in the future, where animals have mutated to gain supreme intelligence and abilities.  She and most other humans have been forced to move underground and live in burrows. In an accident, Kipo gets forced up onto the surface, and must figure out how to navigate the world of wonderbeasts—and a few rogue humans—to find her way home.

Discussion points: How do you think today’s animals will evolve in the future? In what ways are the wonderbeasts similar to animals today, and in what ways are they different?

Steven Universe

Seasons: 5

Episode length: 12 minutes

Available on: Cartoon Network, Hulu

Plot summary: Steven is a half-human, half alien gem boy who lives in the fictional town of Beach City, Delmarva. He is raised by his dad and three alien gems, who were all close to his mother, who gave up her life for him. The show is a coming-of-age story about Steven, as he learns more about his magical powers, his mother’s legacy, and justice and kindness in the world around him. As Quartz has reported before, the show has some of the best kid-friendly depictions of the LGBTQ+ community, healthy relationships, and emotional intelligence. Plus, it’s got an entirely original soundtrack that’s incredibly catchy.

Discussion points: A lot of the characters on the show feel like outsiders in some way—how does that influence how they behave? How does Steven like to resolve conflicts, compared to some of the other characters on the show?

Phineas and Ferb

Seasons: 4

Episode length: 23 minutes

Available on: Disney+

Plot summary: Step-brothers Phineas and Ferb have one goal over the summer: to avoid boredom (sound familiar?). They are constantly trying to invent new devices to keep themselves busy, and do so with tremendous speed. Meanwhile, their pet platypus is a secret agent who is constantly fighting Dr. Doofenshmirtz, a villain who isn’t always great at maintaining his goal of taking over the (ambiguous) tri-state area.

Discussion points: If you could invent anything, what would you invent? Is Dr. Doofenshmirtz really a bad guy, or is he just misunderstood?

Adventure Time

Seasons: 10

Episode length: 11 minutes

Available on: Cartoon Network, Hulu

Plot summary: A boy named Finn and his magical dog/best friend Jake live in a treehouse in the land of Ooo. It’s a highly acclaimed science fiction show about the pair navigating the land, which seems like a post-apocalyptic Earth with friendly (and not so friendly) aliens and mutants. The show is largely about learning the lay of the fantastical setting as Finn and Jake explore its wonders while they each grow as characters.

Discussion points: What parts of your world do you want to explore more? What are some of the animals and plants you see every day outside or in books that you could learn more about?