Great Big Story

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Great Big Story App Poster Image
Mini video docus inspire, enrich, include implicit ads.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about a variety of topics, including people doing interesting things, wonders of the natural world, cultural curiosities, historical tidbits.

Ease of Play

Scroll through stories; tap to play.


Some videos are corporate-sponsored and include links to the sponsor's websites.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Great Big Story is a library of short inspirational videos with positive, unique, or quirky themes. Video documentaries that are three to 10 minutes long present topics such as a musician who records music for cats, French seaweed-flavored butter, a strange-looking fish, and a dance group that combines hip hop with classical ballet. CNN Worldwide is the parent company of Great Big Story, and the project is an experiment in creating a new model of broadcasting content. That means that the videos are professionally produced, but CNN's business model relies mostly on corporate sponsorship. Some, though not all, videos have clear corporate backers. For example, the Fairmont Hotel has a video about its canine "greeters," and videos about new fathers are discretely "brought to you" by the insurance company New York Life. These videos include links to the sponsor's website. Kids can share videos through their device's sharing options. New videos are released regularly, and kids can enable push notifications to know when new content rolls out. Read the developer's privacy policy for details on how your (or your kids') information is collected, used, and shared and any choices you may have in the matter, and note that privacy policies and terms of service frequently change.

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What's it about?

GREAT BIG STORY requires users to agree to its privacy policy and terms of use before accessing any content. Once in, scroll up and down to browse videos, read short descriptions of the stories they tell, and tap Play to watch. Mark the ones you like or share them through the device's sharing options. Kids can also search by keyword and browse videos by channel, such as Human Condition, Flavors, or Planet Earth. Or, they can watch groups of videos in playlists such as Women's History Month or That's So '90s.

Is it any good?

High-quality, short videos offer interesting tidbits to enrich kids' minds, pique their curiosity, inspire them to do big things -- and to introduce them to big corporate brands. There's a great variety of story type with an emphasis on people doing amazing or unique things and interesting tidbits from around the world. The positive spin to all the stories is refreshing and leaves viewers with a good feeling. Of course, the warm fuzzy feeling of goodness is also to the great advantage of Great Big Story's corporate sponsors. Sponsorship ranges from subtle tags such as "this story was brought to you by" to entire videos that seem like feel-good commercials for the brand. Though parents will appreciate the positivity that abounds, they'll likely want to address some of the commercialism issues. The videos themselves are beautifully produced, but it would be nice to see some additional navigation tools in the app, such as build your own playlist.  All in all, the stories in Great Big Story facilitate marveling at the wonders of the world and of humankind.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the inspirational themes found in Great Big Story. What stories interest you most and why? How do the stories make you feel?

  • Discuss the commercial aspects of Great Big Story. How does the app market its sponsors? What are the corporations' goals in sponsoring or creating this content?

  • With autoplay and lots of interesting videos to watch, it can be hard to stop. Talk to your kids about setting limits and what your family's rules are regarding screen time.

App details

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For kids who love free educational and social studies apps

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