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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Toy Hackers is a Youtube video series sponsored by the creators of GoldieBlox toys. Each episode shows the four young protagonists faced with a problem and forced to come up with a creative solution that involves an invention of some kind. Though STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) concepts are behind the show and at play in the content, kids don't get to see how the products are built (a piñata and a "flying" carpet, for instance) without visiting separate how-to videos. The show's villain is more scheming and tricky than she is scary, and she's always outdone by the four kids' smarts and teamwork. In addition to its commercial interests with regard to GoldieBlox toys, the show also features a different YouTube personality in each episode, so kids may see some familiar faces or be inspired to seek out their other work.
What's the story?
TOY HACKERS is a series of shorts from GoldieBlox, the company behind award-winning engineering toys for girls. The stories center on four action figures -- Goldie Blox, Ruby Rails, Li Gravity, and Valentina Voltz -- who team up to build, craft, and engineer their way out of a variety of sticky situations they encounter on secret missions, all the while foiling the nefarious Big Sister's plots to sabotage them. Every episode features cameos from different Youtube personalities as well.
Is it any good?
These funny, absorbing shorts are worthy additions to the acclaimed GoldieBlox franchise; they're creative, unique, and full of hilarious mishaps, as are most experiments. For a company that aims to get more girls on board with math and science, making it look as fun as it does in these stories is a great start. Putting it in the hands of the toys themselves (the collection's action figures are the stars of the show) is pure genius, and viewers of any age will enjoy how the show incorporates everyday supplies like masking tape, pipe stem cleaners, and plastic cups in the stories' settings and the inventions.
That said, YouTube is a can of worms that's best opened slowly when it comes to your kids. While the shows themselves are minimally commercialized (there's no direct push to buy GoldieBlox merchandise, and only a tiny advertisement promotes the guest stars' home channels), you can't watch a video on the site without the "convenience" of many other clips just a click away. In some cases, that's great, as accompanying TOY HACKERS videos include instructions for building the things you see in the show (an amplifier from a paper towel tube, for instance), which reinforces the show's engineering theme. In others, it can be less great, so be sure your kids understand their limits or you watch with them.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Toy Hackers shows why math and science are important. Kids: When do you use your knowledge of these subjects in your daily life? Do you like to create and build things? Are you interested in animals? Outer space? Rocks and minerals?
Kids: Are there certain activities you consider to be for boys rather than for girls or vice versa? Is that necessarily a bad thing? Do you like to challenge yourself to do things others don't think you can do? How does it feel when you succeed at something challenging?
Can you learn anything from this show? Is it important that TV be educational? What shows have you seen that are better at teaching something than this one?
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.