8 Kids' TV Shows You'll Actually Enjoy, Too

Research has shown that when parents watch TV with their children, kids get more from the experience. Here are eight entertaining programs to view as a family.

Composite of four kids shows

Today's children are watching more TV than ever before. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the average kiddo spends four to six hours a day watching or using screens. Teens spend up to nine hours. And while finding a way to cut back on kids' screen time might seem like the ideal solution, it turns out that one of the best things you can do is sit down with them. Research has shown that when parents view TV programs with their children, kids gain a deeper understanding of what they're watching and get more out of the experience overall.

It's called co-viewing, and the practice was investigated by researchers in a 2017 study from Texas Tech University. When observing children watching TV with a parent, researchers noted that the children's heart rate and skin conductance both increased (which essentially means the skin becomes a conductor of electricity). According to the study, these physiological changes signaled how much effort the children were putting into learning from the program. When kids watched the show alone, on the other hand, they were more apt to zone out.

Those findings aren't necessarily surprising, considering that previous research has shown that kids are more interested in activities when parents are involved. TV is no exception, says child psychologist Nicole Beurkens, Ph.D.

"From a developmental standpoint, parents are able to guide the child's viewing experience by talking about what they are seeing and hearing, asking thoughtful questions, sharing emotions together, and more," Dr. Beurkens explains. "This provides the child with an enhanced experience of not just seeing and hearing what is happening on the screen, but having the parent help interpret and make meaning of it with them."

When searching for shows to watch together, Emily King, Ph.D., a Raleigh, North Carolina-based psychologist and mom of two, says that it's important to choose media that matches a child's language skills and attention span. "For example, many children with autism and developmental delays will watch television shows designed for younger audiences, but often this is a match for their social and language development, not their chronologic age," says Dr. King.

But don't worry—that doesn't mean you have to submit yourself to an hour of eye-glazing cartoons with loud musical numbers. Here are eight of our favorite kid-friendly TV shows that the entire family will enjoy.

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood

Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood

Courtesy of PBS Kids

If you grew up on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, you'll love Daniel Tiger. The popular PBS series is based on a charecter from the hit, multi-decade and -generational show. And while Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood follows Daniel and his family on everyday adventures, the lessons it imparts are memorable and important. The show's songs are catchy, too.

PBS, ages 3+


An image of the show Bluey.
Courtesy of Disney.

Once hailed "the best kids' show of our time" by Vulture, this Australian preschool series manages to be just as entertaining for grown-ups as it is for little kids. Bluey follows a family of Aussie pups—dad Bandit, mom Chilli, and daughters Bingo and Bluey—as they play imaginative games together. Each episode is only seven minutes long but is packed with sweet, silly moments that are likely to have both you and your child laughing out loud.

Disney+, ages 4+

The Magic School Bus Rides Again

An image of the show The Magic School Bus Rides Again.
Courtesy of Netflix.

Parents who grew up in the '90s no doubt remember the excitement of having a TV rolled into their classroom to watch Miss Frizzle's memorable science lessons on The Magic School Bus. Now, Netflix is rebooting the beloved show for today's generation. One major perk to the revival: Ms. Frizzle (the original teacher's younger sister) is voiced by Saturday Night Live's Kate McKinnon.

Netflix, ages 5+

Ask the StoryBots

An image of the show Ask the StoryBots.
Courtesy of Netflix.

This highly-rated and humorous educational series is as fun for parents as it is for young children. Each episode follows the characters as they seek to answer a real kid's question, like "Why is the sky blue?" Catchy songs, music videos, and celebrity cameos (like Jay Leno and Kevin Smith) keep things interesting and engaging along the way.

Netflix, ages 3+

The Owl House

The Owl House

Courtesy of Disney

Beautifully detailed with tons of charecter development, The Owl House is a Common Sense Selection—and for good reason. The series centers on Luz Noceda, a human girl who accidentally stumbles upon the Demon Realm, and her unlikely friendship with the rebellious Eda Clawthorne. It embraces the mythical, the magical, the wacky, and weird and yet, it is relatable. The charecters in The Owl House have been referred to as authentic, engaging, accurate, and pure.

Disney+, ages 8+

The Loud House

The Loud House

Courtesy of Nickelodeon

One of 10 siblings, Lincoln lives in a "loud" house—which also happens to be his last name. Each episode follows Lincoln on his journey to fit in (and find himself) in his large family. It also shows his struggles just to get by. A fun and funny commentary on big-family dynamics.

Paramount+, ages 8+

Star Wars: Rebels

Star Wars: Rebel

Courtesy of Disney+

Fans of Star Wars—young and old—will love Rebels. The show takes place between Revenge of the Sith and A New Hope. It follows Ezra Bridger, an orphan living on the planet Lothal. And it has some amazing arcs, charecters, relationships, and battles. According to Common Sense Media, it is "an exciting series with violent [moments] but has positive messages, too."

Disney+, ages 8+

Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey

An image of "Cosmos: A Space Time Odyssey."
Getty Images.

Hosted by renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, this 13-part adventure series is an adaptation of Carl Sagan's award-winning TV series Cosmos from the 1980s. The newer (2014) series continues Sagan's tradition of exploring the origins of the universe and the laws of nature through scientific research. The stunning visual effects and captivating storytelling will make your kids forget they're watching an educational documentary.

Disney+, ages 10+

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  1. Parents Prescence When TV Viewing With Child Affects Learning Ability. Texas Tech University. 2017.

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