The stuff that kids watch can be mind-numbingly inane — we get it, Dora’s map, YOU ARE A MAP. Rion Nakaya, a design director and video producer, had the same gripe when she saw the type of video content that was targeted for her three-year-old back in 2011. And then it hit her: Who says children only need to watch “children’s shows”, anyway?
As a kid, Nakaya remembered being awed by Jacques Cousteau specials and Mikhail Baryshnikov ballet performances on TV, programs not made for kids in particular.
She’d watch a ton of videos for her job, and very often, she’d come across something that would leave her fascinated, inspired and eager to learn more. “The kid should see this,” she’d think, bookmarking the clip.
She’d collect NASA videos, wild animal footage and old television scenes she used to love. Once, she showed her son a video of Ella Fitzgerald scat singing on stage in 1969, and he was scatting all week.
She wished more kids could experience these internet gems, but most parents would never find them unless they were searching.
So Nakaya decided to launch a website called The Kid Should See This (AKA TKSST), and now that it’s filled with 4000 videos and counting, I find it to be a more valuable resource than ever, especially at a time when kids’ brains are hooked on surprise egg and slime videos and creepy YouTube videos masquerading as kids’ content.
Curated by Nakaya, and kid-tested by her two children, now eight and 11, the site is filled with all the stuff they’re curious about, from an epic 4K flower time lapse that took three years to make to a GoPro being engulfed by lava to this crazy Japanese multiplication trick.
You, an adult, may find yourself scrolling through the videos all afternoon, completely mesmerised, and that’s the whole point. The content is meaningful to people of any age — as Nakaya’s 11-year-old once told her, “You know, there are actually no adults. It’s just that adults are the oldest kids.” Truth.
In selecting videos for TKSST, which are all pretty short, Nakaya not only looks for what she calls “wonder and ‘Wow!’ moments” but also seeks to clarify information that’s often misunderstood, such as climate change science, evolution and clean energy solutions, and amplify women and people of colour working in STEM fields.
While there’s some kids’ content in the mix — such as this classic 1981 crayon factory visit from Mister Roger’s Neighbourhood — she avoids all the clichéd and gimmicky stuff, such as shows with over-the-top sound effects and zany mad-scientist hosts who make terrible puns.
“Why dumb it down when the subjects can be compelling on their own?” she asks.
After watching a video with your kids, Nakaya recommends that parents keep talking. Share what you love. Ask questions. See what else they want to know. When adults model an excitement for learning, kids pick up on it.
With each post, she includes links related to the video for further discovery. Says Nakaya: “Sometimes the best conversations happen weeks after we’ve watched something.”
Here are five TKSST-discovered videos to get started with:
An entire performance using Boomwhackers.
When you remove any air resistance, how does a hammer, brick and bowling ball move in comparison to feathers?
The fluidisation of sand looks so cool.
Can you cut all 26 letters of the alphabet with just one straight cut?
A fun trick.