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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that American Ninja Warrior Junior challenges kids ages 9 to 14 to compete in a series of obstacle courses inspired by the original American Ninja Warrior. The courses are scaled down to match the kids' physical abilities, but they still require considerable physical and mental strength to complete, and these remarkable contestants are up to the challenge. Often the contestants' backstories are emotional (one celebrates an adoption long in the making, another centers on a competitor's work with kids with disabilities), which makes it even more fun to cheer them on. This series emphasizes fair play and good sporting conduct in both victory and defeat.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
AMERICAN NINJA WARRIOR JUNIOR is an obstacle course competition series featuring contestants ranging from age nine to 14 and hosted by Matt Iseman, Akbar Gbajabiamila, and Laurie Hernandez. Players compete in pairs, facing off on tests like Tic Toc, Ring Toss, Fly Wheels, Devil Steps, and the Warped Wall, all of which are adjusted from adult versions to compensate for the kids' stature and strength. As contestants progress through tournament-style elimination in three age groups, qualifying rounds end with one semi-finalist in each of the 9-10, 11-12, and 13-14 age categories. These players proceed to a final competition with the three winners taking home $15,000 prizes.
Is it any good?
Like its parent series, this show rewards physical ability and agility, but also mental toughness to overcome the challenges that arise in the course of competition. Players have to be quick and strong enough to maneuver obstacles that test their upper body strength and balance, but they also must keep their wits about them when they fall behind or, as sometimes happens, fall down. What makes it fun to watch is that small stumbles don't always spell disaster, and come-from-behind victories are the most exciting of all.
Because the obstacle course changes with the different age groups, watching contenders race over and over again is not as boring as it otherwise might be. American Ninja Warrior Junior has some value for families watching, as it celebrates fair play, good sportsmanship, and physical fitness. Positive examples of mentoring exist between adult Warriors and these young competitors, and there's a lot of shared excitement among the fans and the hosts as the competition evolves. Fair warning, though; many of these junior competitors were inspired to start training by the original American Ninja Warrior. Seeing kids their age compete might just be the spark that ignites your own kids' interest.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what might drive kids to train for such a challenging competition. Do you think they get a sense of accomplishment simply from being able to maneuver these obstacles, or is winning the main goal? Does American Ninja Warrior Junior make good entertainment? How do you choose a favorite among the competitors?
To what degree is the contestants' ability to overcome adversity an important characteristic for this kind of competition? How much of their success is physical as opposed to mental? How can a positive attitude compensate for other shortcomings in competition?
In what ways does this show compensate for the abilities of different age groups? What factors cannot be made even among competitors? Which obstacles do you think would be the most challenge for you? How would your strategy be similar to or different from what you see the players use?
- Premiere date: October 13, 2018
- Cast: Matt Iseman, Akbar Gbajabiamila, Laurie Hernandez
- Network: Universal Kids
- Genre: Game Shows
- Topics: Sports and Martial Arts, Middle School
- Character strengths: Perseverance
- TV rating: TV-G
- Available on: Streaming
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: September 25, 2020
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