PBS KIDS Super Vision
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that PBS KIDS Super Vision links a parent's mobile device to the PBS KIDS website so parents can use their "super vision" for remote supervision. The iOS app is available for iPhone but can be used on an iPad as well. Parents enter a unique code from the PBS KIDS website on their device and then can monitor in real time what their kids are playing or watching on the site. They can get reports of skills kids are learning and how long they spend on different activities as well as suggestions for other games, shows, or apps kids might like and off-screen activities to enhance learning. Parents also can set a timer to turn off the site automatically. PBS KIDS Super Vision's reporting isn't fully accurate in some areas, and it doesn't work when kids are playing on the site through a tablet or phone.
What kids can learn
- time management
Responsibility & Ethics
- making wise decisions
- using and applying technology
Engagement, Approach, Support
The parent-facing app is information-based and not geared toward kids. Kids will be engaged in the online games they play and videos they watch.
Parents get a clear picture of what kids are doing and learning on the PBS KIDS website, getting a summary of the game or show and the academic skills covered. Having a video or game cut off as they play, though, is not empowering for kids and could lead to frustrations.
The data-driven tool tracks for parents what kids are doing on the PBS KIDS website and the skills covered. Ideas for activities to do off-screen extend learning. Step-by-step instructions guide parents through connecting their device to the website.
What's it about?
Parents select the gear icon in the top-right corner of the PBS KIDS website and enter the unique code into the app. They'll then see on their device what kids are playing or watching at PBS KIDS and a related activity (via a link to the PBS website.) Parents can set a play timer to turn the site off after a certain amount of time. On the site, kids see the screen turn green with a message to play again later. The activity summary shows the skills explored and how long kids watched videos and how many games they played.
Is it any good?
Giving parents a tool to help with monitoring screen time is a great idea, and PBS KIDS SUPER VISION certainly offers a handy service for free, even if all the features don't work perfectly every time. The timer is reliable, which by itself is worth the download. Parents can close the site as kids are playing at the touch of a button or set a timer to turn it off automatically. They can even customize the message kids will see ("break time," "bedtime," "mealtime," "time for school"), though many kids playing on PBS KIDS won't be able to read the message themselves (it's not read aloud). The real-time updates of what kids are watching or playing are helpful, too, as are the suggestions for other PBS programs and off-screen activities, though they don't always update when kids change activities online quickly. The video timer showing how long kids have been watching videos doesn't work well, and none of the app integrates with a tablet.
The concept is cool, and it's certainly empowering for parents. Kids may appreciate more face-to-face conversations about what they're playing and when they need to stop rather than having it monitored and controlled remotely. This tool requires balance in its use as it teaches kids balance in their media use.
Families can talk about...
Talk with kids about balancing screen time with other activities, and strive to set an example with your own media habits.
Although the tool is designed for parents to use with young kids, parents can show tweens and teens how easy it is for their Internet activity to be monitored (and not only by parents with their best interests in mind).