As parents of children ourselves, we are acutely aware of the pain and challenges that come with navigating kids’ screen time. The amount of time kids spend on screens and what they do online is important. KidCulture is not just another app. We deliver a variety of off-screen activities for kids and families to do offline.
KidCulture is not just another app. We have a whole team dedicated to what we call “Off-Screen Engagement” or OSE for short. The idea is to get kids off the screen and out in the world, reinforcing what they’re learning on our app through hands-on activities. These activities include crafts, games, recipes and discussion prompts for parents to teach kids about life around the world. We also connect parents with valuable resources to supplement what their children are learning on KidCulture, including literature and other media related to specific countries. Because we do not rely on advertising revenue, we do not need to maximize the time kids spend on KidCulture. Instead, we encourage parents and their kids to find a balance between on-screen activities and off-screen activities that suits them.
Not all screen time is equal. We find it more useful to use the term “screen activities” instead. This term acknowledges the fact that many kids rely on the internet to meet their daily needs, from education to play. More importantly, research demonstrates that time spent online is less important for children’s well-being than the specific activities they do while they’re online.
What about social media? Social media can be valuable access to information, entertainment, and community. They can be powerful forms of self-expression and connection, particularly for marginalized people who struggle to belong in their offline world. Claims about social media causing depression and anxiety are both oversimplified and highly controversial amongst experts. In fact, some research shows that those who actively engage with social media report higher levels of happiness. It’s those who use social media passively - often through ‘doomscrolling’ rather than posting and commenting - that are more likely to have a negative relationship with the platforms.
And yet, there are many harmful elements of current social media that simply make them a bad fit for kids. These include inescapable advertising and intrusive data collection, the use of manipulative design, and easy access to inappropriate content. These features are built into the architecture of social media. They are not going away; instead they are increasing in their intensity and influence. The combination of these features has led to a range of detrimental impacts on children, who are spending more and more time on social media, at younger and younger ages.
It will take a diligent and concerted effort--at a global level--to create alternative online spaces for children that prioritize their well-being. In short, it will take a movement! And our goal with KidCulture is to be a leader in that movement. We hope to harness the best of today’s communication technologies to empower kids to learn about the world, express themselves, and build meaningful relationships in a safe and healthy environment.