What Is YouTube TV?
YouTube TV is one of the most popular live TV streaming services around, offering over 100 channels for $64.99 per month. Find out if this service is worth it for you.
Streaming services offer some of the best platforms for providing educational and age-appropriate media for children. Unfortunately, streaming services have differing opinions about what kids may be able to watch. To help save you some time, we made you a guide with notable features of some of the most common streaming services so you can consider which option most suits your family’s needs.
This post is for parents looking for low-hassle options to stream age-appropriate shows and movies for their children. Some of the top streaming services for kids we’ve included here are Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, YouTube TV, Sling Kids Extra, CuriosityStream and Kidoodle.TV. These platforms offer diverse content that can be educational, entertaining and subject to parental controls. We found that Netflix offers some of the most diverse content and parental control options, with Disney+ as a close second. Any other service you choose would depend on your personal preferences.
In many ways, children have more access to digital content than ever before. They continue to surprise us with how much they understand technology and how to use it to meet their goals. You may therefore decide to choose a streaming service to focus your child’s curiosity on age-appropriate materials. With so many options for getting visual content into your kids’ lives, it can be tough to decide which streaming service to go with. Even if you’re concerned about how to monitor what kind of content makes it to your kids’ screens, there isn’t enough time to try every option! You want the service that suits your family’s needs, and you’ll want it to work as soon as you can get it loaded onto your kids’ screens. We get it. That’s why we’ve crafted this post that compiles prices, perks and inclusions across some of the top streaming services that cater to kids.
|Streaming Service||Price||What You Can Expect||Parental Controls||Advertisements||Extra Perks||Simultaneous Streaming Limit|
|Netflix||$8.99 - $17.99 / month||Critically-acclaimed content, some of which is original to the platform; content for kids aged from toddlers to teens||Profiles; PIN access; maturity settings; pre-set kids programming; disable auto-play||No||30-day free trial||Up to 2-4 devices based on subscription tier|
|Disney+||$6.99 / mo (or bundle with Hulu and ESPN for $12.99 / mo)||All the Disney you can handle, including classics as well as original content||Set up a Kids profile; add a "Kid-Proof Exit" from profiles; lock guardian profiles with PIN code access||No||No||Up to 4 devices|
|Hulu||$6.99 – $70.99 / month||Titles for everyone in the family, including tweens; live content on premium tiers||Kids profile setting; maturity level filter; PIN protection||Yes, on lower tiers. Premium tiers can eliminate ads.||30-day free trial||Up to 2 devices (premium tiers can opt for an “Unlimited Screens Add-On”)|
|Amazon Prime Video||$8.99 / month for just Prime Video; $12.99 / month for Amazon Prime, which includes Video||Variety of content available for all ages, popular YouTuber inclusion||Kids profile option; content restrictions by maturity level; PIN protection on settings, purchases and restricted content||No||If you subscribe to Amazon Prime, enjoy the following: 30-day free trial; Prime Shipping; Prime Music; ability to buy/rent new titles; some free books and magazines||Up to 3 devices|
|Apple TV+||$4.99 / month||Mostly-original content on currently popular topics||PIN-protected activities on web and devices; restrict mature content||No||After buying an eligible Apple device, enjoy one free year; otherwise a 7-day free trial||Up to 6 devices|
|YouTube TV||$64.99/month||Live content channels and great features for sports fans; Unlimited DVR service||Mature content filters and purchase restrictions on certain profiles; clear or pause watch and search history||Yes, but can be fast-forwarded on DVR||Unlimited cloud DVR storage; 7-day free trial||Up to 3 devices|
|Sling Kids Extra||$6 / month (in addition to basic Sling price starting at $35 / month)||A small selection of kid-friendly channels to add on to existing service||Restrict content based on maturity ratings; lock content available for purchase||Yes||50-200 hours of DVR storage||Up to 3 devices|
|CuriosityStream||$2.99 - $9.99 / month, or $19.99 - $69.99 / year, or free with Optimum or Suddenlink||On-demand catalog of educational documentaries for growing minds||Kids Mode to filter out titles with mature content||No||7-day free trial||Up to 5 devices|
|Kidooodle.TV||Free or $4.99/month||A kids-only Safe Streaming platform that offers a wide variety of content for kids 12 and under||Set up multiple profiles; passcode protection on settings; title filtering; bedtime curfews; screen time limits; parental analytics||Yes, but only on the free tiers||Up to 2 GB of free storage for family videos, profile customization and viewing history tracking; 14-day free trial||Up to 1 device at a time|
Of course we’re going to mention Netflix, so we’ll go ahead and address this top contender first. This streaming service frontrunner has been on the upswing with multiple pieces of original content being nominated for (and receiving) national awards. This top-rated streaming service serves up content for kids of all ages: toddlers, kids, tweens, teens and beyond. Besides being one of the most popular streaming services to begin with, Netflix has one of the most thorough parental control settings around.
You can set up profiles for individual users, and each profile has the option of being set up as a “Kids” profile. This offers a pre-set filter for only allowing content for the twelve-and-under crowd. If you would like more customization or if your child is somewhere between twelve years old and an age where content need not be monitored, you can set up their profile with maturity level controls. If that’s the case for you, then you may want to look at the ratings on shows that they already watch to get an idea of the rating level you’d like to permit Netflix to show them. Netflix’s maturity ratings typically appear on the show or movie’s details page or on the top corner of the screen when you first begin playing the title.
One of the more recent settings features includes PIN access to certain profiles. This feature ensures that kids can’t, for example, sneak out of their own profiles (by accident or not) to one without maturity settings. You therefore not only have the ability to create a profile for your little one without sacrificing the content in your own profile, but you also have the ability to prevent accidents from happening at the hands of curious kiddos.
As with many streaming platforms, it can be easy to get sucked in for hours at a time. Both adults and kids alike may find it all too easy to just let the platform play the next episode for you. One thing you can do to combat binge-watching is to disable Netflix’s auto-play. This can be done for any account and it can help users prevent Netflix from dragging them into the “just one more episode” mentality. Although it is possible to filter what content and how much of it lands in your child’s watch-next list, it can still be tough to keep an eye on what is being accessed on mobile devices. If you want to see what your child is watching and when, you must go into the settings under “Profile and Parental Controls” to check out “Viewing activity.” There, you’ll be able to see viewing information online as well as on a downloadable spreadsheet.
Another function of Netflix’s parental controls is to restrict certain titles on a user’s profile. Although we wondered at first about how this could be applied to a real-life scenario, we found that this might be a tool intended for more precise customization. For example, if you have a child in the house that is ready for more intellectually complex content, you may wish to raise the maturity filter on his or her profile without giving them access to movies and shows that include inappropriate content. In this case, you can restrict a specific title from showing up on the user’s profile regardless of maturity rating. You may also choose to eliminate a show or movie that contains specific content that’s unsuitable for your child. It may be difficult to anticipate exactly which shows to block, but this tool is still an option that Netflix offers. The title restriction is not permanent, so it can be removed at any time.
One possible shortcoming to note is that there are no settings to limit time spent watching on each user’s profile. If you have any intent to restrict the time your child spends on Netflix, then the boundaries must be set up externally.
Finally, when signing up for a Netflix subscription, you will want to consider how many users will be streaming all at once. The basic tier permits one viewer at a time, while the standard tier allows two simultaneous viewers. Larger families might want to opt for the premium tier which expands viewership to up to four at a time. For any subscription to Netflix, you can enjoy a 30-day free trial period when you can observe how well this service works for you. If your child’s interest wanes already before the trial period is up, then you know that this service is not right for you.
There is also Disney+, naturally. This streaming platform quickly established its footprint in the streaming world in late 2019 by offering both nostalgic classics and much-loved new content that spans multiple age groups. Its dominance only increased as it became the only place to see instant hits like “The Mandalorian,” the popular musical “Hamilton,” and crowd-pleasing Marvel content. Additionally, as movie theaters closed down in 2020 during the pandemic, Disney+ used its platform to broadcast movies that were releasing while movie-goers were in lockdown. Overall, Disney+ has made itself indispensable in a short amount of time.
Previously, Disney+ was criticized for its lack of parental controls. Although profiles could be created, not much filtering was allowed—which doesn’t seem like a large concern since this platform presents few options to get into trouble with. Not to be outdone by Netflix, though, Disney+ has recently upped is parental control game! You can now create a Kids’ profile that simplifies the interface (both online and on devices) and only allows titles rated under the G and TV-7FV categories. You can also set up a “Kid-Proof Exit” on a Kids profile. This makes it harder for kids to leave their profiles in the first place by requiring users to answer an “exit question.”
Finally, you can restrict your profile with a four-digit PIN code. This provides a layer of protection in addition to the Kid-Proof Exit feature: even if a kid answers the challenge question, they would still need to know the four-digit passcode in order to access any more mature content.
There are only a couple things missing from this lineup of parental controls. At this point, there is a lack of time restriction controls to help prevent binge-watching, even when you can’t be right there. There is also no way to restrict specific titles. Disney+ offers viewers content that goes as far back as the 1930s. If you have seen any G-rated film from even a couple decades ago, you know that maturity ratings change over time. So, even if a movie is rated appropriately for your child, it may contain content that is less appropriate by today’s standards. This streaming platform has attempted to combat that by adding a “may contain outdated cultural depictions” message to older flicks. If something objectionable does come up, though, just remember to talk to your kids openly about it. Parental controls on content should not replace real conversations about what’s right and wrong.
Hulu is a Disney-owned streaming service that offers up a respectable amount of both mature and family-friendly content. Here, you can watch things that range from “30 Rock,” “Archer,” “Community” and “The Handmaid’s Tale” to more kid-oriented titles like “Lego Friends,” “The Powerpuff Girls,” “CoComelon” and “Adventure Time.” You can also enjoy classics like “Cheers,” “MASH” and “Firefly” on this platform. Hulu, in particular, also has some great tween-appropriate shows like “Find Me in Paris” or “Making It.” Although there isn’t any live content unless you pay more for a subscription that contains it, there’s plenty to watch on demand.
As far as parental controls go, though, Hulu has some now-standard capabilities. You can create a Kids profile on Hulu that automatically filters content based on your child’s age. That’s helpful, but you must be completely sure to enable that feature if you want it. If you miss out on establishing your child’s profile with the Kids filter, then they will be able to access R-rated or TV-MA titles once they turn thirteen. If this happens to you, you have two options. You can either create an entirely new profile with the desired settings, or you can contact Hulu to have the age setting adjusted for the entire account. The downside of that second option is that doing so will automatically block all mature content on all profiles of the account.
An additional parental control bonus is a recent ability to PIN-protect any non-Kids Hulu profiles. This PIN Protection setting can be enabled and disabled at any time and can also prevent kids from creating new profiles without having the appropriate PIN info.
One last aspect to note is that there will be commercials during your Hulu viewing unless you pay for a more premium subscription. Aside from being a nuisance, commercials are not exactly something that you can preview beforehand.
If you have Amazon Prime, you already have access to Amazon Prime Video. What’s neat about this subscription is that you get so much for the monthly price: Prime shipping, Prime Video, movie rental or purchase, Prime Music and access to some free books and magazines. That’s quite a bit of bang for your buck. Parents can enjoy plenty of great content on their own, like Prime’s “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” “American Gods” and “Mad Men.” Younger audiences won’t be disappointed by titles like “Kung Fu Panda,” “Twilight,” “The Addams Family,” “Wonder Park” and “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
Another perk to Amazon Prime Video is the crossover YouTube content it contains. Ask a kid you know which YouTube channels they follow, and there’s a good chance they’ll have an answer. Amazon Prime has content from Blippi, a popular YouTube channel geared towards toddlers. For older teenagers, there’s a YouTubers React show where YouTube content creators are asked to respond to things like international commercials or the infamous Tide Pod Challenge. There is also content from FGTeeV (a channel about a gaming family) and Ryan’s World (a channel about Ryan, a child who plays pretend, does crafts, participates in challenges and more).
Alright. Let’s get down to those parental controls. Amazon Prime Video seems to work differently than the streaming services we’ve already talked about. First, this service also includes the ability to create a Kids profile that filters out mature content automatically. Although you can create user profiles, parental controls are administered by user profile as well as by device. So if you’ve set up parental controls (in addition to the Kid’s Profile setting) for you child’s tablet but they try watching Amazon Prime on a phone, the restrictions you set up for the tablet will not transfer over to the phone. This works because you must download and log into the Amazon Prime Video app in order to access this service on any device that isn’t a computer. If you have this streaming service and would like to filter the titles that reach your child’s profile, you may need a designated device for him or her to watch Amazon Prime Video on if you’re not around. (Note: some devices have their own parental control settings that don’t play well with Amazon Prime Video. These include some Fire devices and Xbox consoles. Check Amazon Prime Video to see if you have one of these devices.)
An additional caveat to this is that, even if you set up restrictions on a device, anything downloaded onto an account from an adult profile will still be viewable through the kids profile. If there is something that you definitely do not want your children to watch, either try not to download it or be watchful of what your little ones are watching from the downloads list.
The upside? Amazon Prime Video’s parental controls are PIN-restricted. The PIN can be used to set up the controls and to bypass certain restrictions on a case-by-case basis regarding watching or purchasing certain titles. The PIN code cannot be used, however, to restrict access to certain profiles.
As a side note, Amazon does offer an app subscription that supplies books, shows, movies, games and educational apps for children up to the age of twelve. It’s called Amazon Kids+ (formerly Free Time), and you can subscribe to it for as low as $2.99 per month if you are a Prime customer ($4.99 if you are not). This app automatically filters content based on age, and nothing with mature ratings or explicit content will make it into the app at all.
You can try out Amazon Prime Video with a 30-day free trial to see if this service works for you and your family.
This might not be your first thought when you think of a streaming service for your kids, but Apple TV+ brings some good things to the table. There are some pleasant pieces of original content for kiddos, like a show called “Helpsters” that features friendly monsters demonstrating critical thinking. There are also titles for older ages like “Home Before Dark” and “Ghost Writer.” Even older audiences may want to watch “Defending Jacob” or “Central Park.” For full-family viewing, you can find some heartwarming documentaries for all ages like “Tiny World” and “Dear.”
This streaming service is still working on content generation, though. Although Apple TV+ is starting to create original content around known shows like the “Peanuts,” there aren’t many things that are familiar to audiences looking for anything that predates the streaming service’s inception. That being said, their new content coincides with common interests. For example, Apple TV+ created a documentary about Billie Eilish, a teenage singer popular for producing genre-bending music that usually contains some darker themes. Older teenagers who enjoy her music may wish to watch “Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry” which released in February 2021 follows Eilish as she prepares for her debut album.
As far as parental controls go, Apple TV+ is a little light in this category. In many regions (though not in all), Apple TV+ has a Kids category that organizes child-appropriate content into one spot. You also have the option of setting up profiles and then arming them with parental controls. With their controls, you can restrict activities like purchasing new titles, playing titles with mature content and more. To override or change any of these restrictions, a PIN code will be required. Users under these parental controls could therefore see items that are restricted, but they won’t be able to play them without the passcode.
However, just like Amazon Prime, if you set up parental controls for Apple TV+ on the web, your specifications will not transfer to any of your mobile devices (or vice versa). If you want your child set up with parental controls on all fronts, then you’ll have to access and change settings online as well as on the apps of the individual devices your child may use.
YouTube TV is for cable lovers who don’t want to work with cable companies anymore. This contractless service offers streaming of 70+ broadcast and cable networks like CBS, NBC, FOX, ABC, TBS, TNT, CNN, and ESPN, all of which can be accessed without a TV. You can watch any of the included live channels in multiple places: online, on any device with the app or on any internet-connected TV with a streaming media player. Although there’s not much on-demand content, this subscription comes with unlimited cloud DVR service so you can record live TV to watch later.
There’s a solid amount of PBS content to be had on YouTube TV, which is of course safe for still-growing viewers. Additionally, if you have a sports-minded kiddo in the house, this service is an excellent selection. Your little (or not-so-little) sports lover can enjoy a “stats view” feature that shows users real-time game stats without spoilers (even when DVR is in use) and a “key plays view” that lets users watch crucial plays of the game. There is also a “scores view” feature to simply keep up with the scores of your games as they develop.
YouTube TV does have some optional parental controls. Their parental controls allow you to limit content on certain accounts based on maturity rating, but the customization is limited. You can choose to only allow content based on G or PG ratings. Once you have restricted content based on rating, titles outside of the designated rating will not appear in searches conducted on that account. The downside of this is that the settings are not passcode-protected, so disabling the maturity setting can be easy for any tech-savvy kids.
You can also clear or pause your watch and search histories. Using these functions will affect what might show up in the recommended videos or “Watch It Again” section of the site.
Finally: advertisements will be present on YouTube TV streaming but they can be fast-forwarded if you’re watching something on DVR. Since YouTube TV is a purveyor of live channels that contain commercials, it makes sense that they would not be able to remove them—even for subscribers.
Sling TV, not ready to be left out of the kids’ streaming world, now offers a family-friendly add-on to their current Orange or Blue streaming packages. The Sling Kids Extra includes channels like Disney Junior, Disney XD, Nicktoons, TeenNick, Boomerang, BabyTV, and Ducktv. With these channels, your child can enjoy shows like “Teen Titans Go,” “Star Wars Rebels,” “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” “Doc McStuffins” and more. One early downside here is that subscribers to Sling Blue do not have access to the Disney Junior or XD channels.
Sling TV does not have an option to create user profiles, but you can set up parental controls that block mature content and the purchase of ownable or rentable content. When you set up these restrictions, blocked content will still show up in searches but with a faded thumbnail and a lock icon.
In conclusion, if you’re already looking at Sling TV, their Kids Extra option may not be a bad idea. If Sling TV is not already on your list of options, this may not be for you.
If you’re ready to provide your school-age child with visual media that both entertains and educates, CuriosityStream is for you. For a low monthly rate (or as an add-on to your Prime Video account), your young ones can watch unlimited documentaries about topics like history, technology, lifestyle, society, nature and more. Let your little inventor watch “Innovation Nation” with Mo Rocca or show your aspiring biologist “Jack Hanna’s Wild Countdown”…the possibilities are endless! With CuriostyStream, you can encourage kids to watch something educational so they can learn—even without a book in front of them.
That said, real-world facts do still contain content that younger children may not yet be ready for. To help parents present facts of life to children at appropriate times, CuriosityStream recently enabled a Kids Mode to turn Curiosity Stream into Curiosity Kids. This mode filters out documentaries that contain explicit violence, disturbing imagery and sexual content. Such viewing options will not populate in searches when Kids Mode is enabled. If you enable Kids Mode on your account, these restrictions will be enabled across all devices logged into the account. However, there are some great documentaries on CuriosityStream that parents may be interested in! If you’d like to watch one of the restricted documentaries, all you have to do is disable Kids Mode. Just remember to turn it on again when your child returns to the screen.
On the topic of plans: you can certainly pay for this service on your own, but you don’t have to if you already subscribe to Optimum or Suddenlink internet. Both of these providers have partnered with CuriosityStream to provide customers with a free CuriosityStream subscription through their internet accounts!
Kidoodle.TV is a Safe Streaming™ site for kids twelve and under that can only be played on their branded app. You can watch shows from “Paw Patrol,” “Little Baby Bum,” “Blippi,” “Story Bots,” “Roblox,” and more. The best part about Kidoodle.TV is that two of its three available platforms are free! The only difference between its “Freemium” and paid “Premium” tiers is the presence of advertisements.
With a Guest account, your child can still create a profile, log in and watch his or her favorite shows. The difference between this tier and the next one up is that a Guest account does not offer any parental controls. Through both Freemium and Premium tiers, on the other hand, you can have multiple profiles as well as passcode protection to prevent settings alteration. But the features don’t stop there! With the Freemium and Premium plans only, Kidoodle.TV also boasts features like title filtering, bedtime curfews and screen time limits. With these tools, you can automatically place limits on both what your kids watch and how long they stay glued to the screen. This can be especially useful for parents trying to teach healthy technology habits to their children. Additionally, Kidoodle.TV includes parental analytics. Parental analytics create an easy-to-read report from which parents can monitor their child’s viewing habits, such as what they watch, when they watch and for how long they watch.
Although it’s nice to have Kidoodle.TV on an app on your mobile devices, you may wish to let your little one watch their favorite shows on the big screen. Because Kidoodle.TV doesn’t have the same brand recognition as other larger streaming platforms, you will have to use a bit of a workaround. For example, some users have successfully paired Kidoodle.TV with Chromecast devices to play content on a larger screen.
Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, YouTube TV, Sling Kids Extra, Curiosity Stream and Kidoodle.TV all have varying degrees of parental controls. Netflix, Disney+, Amazon Prime and Kidoodle.TV seem to present a fuller variety of controls and customizations.
Yes! Kidoodle.TV has free viewing tiers, but the free versions of this service include ads. The paid tier does not.
Yes. Certain tiers of Hulu contain live channels. YouTube TV and the Sling Kids Extra include live channels as well.
Although Disney+ has few titles that would get kids into trouble, there may still be some mature or objectionable content on certain titles through that platform. Kidoodle.TV is a kids-only service, as is the Amazon Kids+ subscription. Many other services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu have options for creating a kids profile that automatically filters out content with high maturity ratings.
Written by Sarah Solomon
Edited by Henry St. Pierre