Highbrow

App review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
Highbrow App Poster Image
Great curated videos; lacks ability for parents to filter.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Videos for learning include science experiments, crafts, drawing, language, sports, math, meditation, yoga, reading, and more. While kids won't necessarily become experts in any of the material, they may be able to develop some foundational skills for further learning. 

Ease of Play

Navigation is simple, but kids may be confused by their main screen, which has a lot going on, but only two places to actually click.

Violence & Scariness

There's little violence, but there are images with weapons like swords.

Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Highbrow is a subscription-based service with curated videos for kids. Most, if not all, of the videos are readily available for free on YouTube, so the value in the service for parents will likely fall in their curation, the lack of ads, and the closed environment. With the exception of choosing from languages and pre-set age levels, parents have no control over included content categories. One of the categories is religion, which focuses entirely on Christianity and shares morality tales while asking kids to memorize various Bible verses. On the other hand, there are videos with witches and skeletons for Halloween, which may turn off other families. The service also features a collection of life skills videos that are labeled as "Every Day Life" for young kids, "Autism Awareness" for the middle groups of kids, and "Special Education" for the oldest kids. Read the app's privacy policy to find out about the information collected and shared.

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What's it about?

HIGHBROW is a collection of (primarily) YouTube videos for kids covering everything from language and travel to stories and songs to science and technology. Parents sign up for an account and create profiles for each of their kids. Each child must be assigned to an age group (1-3, 3-5, 5-7, 7-11). Parents can also choose up to 12 languages for kids to learn (including English as a second language). On paid accounts, kids sign into their profile and either stream videos randomly (they can fast-forward and/or "like" a video to save it in their collection) or pick and choose from a variety of categories. Parents can see what their kids have been watching from a parent control area that is blocked by a year-of-birth parent gate. 

Is it any good?

This is a delightful video collection with great variety, but it sorely lacks the ability for parents to choose appropriate categories for their family. Highbrow has a polished feel and the hand curation is evident. The kids' main screens (designed to look like a bedroom) feel too vast and cluttered, especially considering that there are only two things to click on. That's a small quibble, however, for an otherwise clean and easy-to-use interface. As the videos are free and readily available, parents will need to decide if the platform is worth the subscription fee, and that may be impacted by the inability for parents to control the content in any way. Beyond the concern some parents may have over the religious material, not all kids in an age bracket may be ready for the same types of math, or have an interest in ballet. Still, it's a more closed environment than YouTube itself, and that may be worth putting up with the downsides. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about choosing videos to watch. What are you interested in watching on Highbrow? Why? Do you have questions about any of the videos you've watched?

  • Talk about what it's like to make videos. A lot of the videos have kids in them. Do you think it would be fun to make videos? Why? What kind of videos would you want to make?

  • Discuss learning with apps. Do you think this is a good app for learning? Why, or why not? What can you learn? 

App details

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