Brightstorm

Website review by
Polly Conway, Common Sense Media
Brightstorm Website Poster Image
Brief video lessons from pro teachers give teens a boost.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn more on the subjects of their choice within the categories of English, math, science, or test prep. Within each subject, there are hundreds of lessons; kids can pick and choose what they'd like to review. Kids also will learn study and organization skills as they figure out how to fit Brightstorm videos into their homework schedules.

Positive Messages

For kids who have a hard time paying attention in class, these videos can help cement their understanding and give them confidence in their abilities.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Brightstorm is a website that provides short videos that can complement and cement what your kid is learning in class. The lessons, which are offered in English, math, science, and test prep, are taught by seasoned teachers, who break the content into small pieces so kids don't get overwhelmed. If your kid is an extremely reluctant learner, these videos may not be the thing for them, as they seem geared toward kids who are already motivated but want to do better. Still, their quality is great, the subject matter is taught well, and Brightstorm could give some teens the boost they need. 

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byHelen H. September 29, 2016

Charged me after free trial, and won't refund my payment

Watched a few videos based on free trial. Then they didn't notify me and charged me $99 for the year. I wasn't notified until I got another email th... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byTheNewBandit November 10, 2015

Really? $180 a year for this BS?

That's right. $180 a year, and that's only if you order a year-long subscription. Any website that makes people pay that much to improve students... Continue reading

What's it about?

BRIGHTSTORM is a website that offers short video lessons on various subjects within the categories of English, history, math, science, and test prep. Users can subscribe to one, two, or all 19 subjects; they can then watch all the video content on their chosen subject. Videos are broken down by topic, and some directly correspond to textbooks kids may be using in class. Each video is between five and 10 minutes long and covers a small piece of information related to a topic. For example, the section on Death of a Salesman has separate videos for exploring the play's theme, its meaning, and its symbolism. All these lessons are taught by educators with either master's degrees or PhDs. Additionally, newer sections feature advice on college counseling and study skills. All videos and content are available through Studystorm, the iOS and Android app created by Brightstorm's developers.

Is it any good?

Although the company is based in Palo Alto, its founders and many of the staff are Estonian, and language on the site can be a bit choppy. It's understandable, though the translations aren't always perfect. The videos are generally great, and there's a diverse team of teachers who try to connect gently with their virtual students. Some of the teachers are outstanding, but they're not all equally engaging -- you need a lot of personality to teach well over video. Also, note that most (if not all) of the math videos are available for free through Brightstorm's YouTube channel -- a helpful alternative for families who might balk at the steep subscription price.

Struggling students might feel that watching these videos is too much like being in class, only with a different teacher. The site's tone doesn't help much: Testimonial quotes like "You explained in 3 minutes what my teacher couldn't in 5 weeks!" may further undermine a child's confidence that he can be successful at school. If kids are having trouble connecting with their teacher, it's possible that they can access that same content more successfully through Brightstorm, if their textbook is supported. However, the site's steep price tag and its pretty-traditional approach make it unlikely to be a game-changer for most students. Motivated kids may love it; those more on the fence may leave feeling uninspired. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Take advantage of the chance to learn with your kids -- watch one of the videos with them. Discuss what made sense and what didn't, and talk about how you can use the video's features -- like pausing and re-watching -- to make sense of what they're learning.

  • Let your kids know that everybody struggles sometimes and that there are many different ways to learn. Help them develop positive self- talk around school; what are they good at? How can people help when they struggle? Help your kids start to develop their own narrative of self-advocacy as they get older and take on more responsibility at school. 

Website details

For kids who love getting ahead in class

Our editors recommend

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.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate