It's OK to Be Smart

TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
It's OK to Be Smart TV Poster Image
Entertaining science-based videos inspire curiosity.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Educational Value

These videos offer viewers succinct lessons in a range of topics related to many different scientific disciplines. The host uses creative graphics and humor to present the information in ways that are easy for hobby scientists and casual viewers to understand.


Positive Messages

This series makes scientific concepts fun to learn and relate to viewers' own experiences. They are curiosity-driven, and the host's enthusiasm for teaching inspires excitement for learning. He ends each video by acknowledging that there's always more to be learned and encouraging viewers to "stay curious." One episode's topic involves the science behind flatulence, which inspires many jokes.


Positive Role Models & Representations

The host's impressive knowledge on the subjects is matched only by his gregarious teaching style. His presentation reminds viewers not only that it is OK to be smart, it's actually cool to be.


Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

The occasional video deals with matters related to sexuality, such as kissing. All of the content is presented in a scientific format, but there is mention of sex, "going all the way," and genitals, as well as many pop culture images from movies.



The host mentions sponsoring organizations by name before and after the video, as well as encourages viewers to subscribe to the YouTube channel. Other works related to the topic of the day are promoted as well, including books and other videos.


Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Occasional mention of drugs by name.


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that It's OK to Be Smart produces educational videos that explore topics inspired by average curiosity, including how immunity works, whether it's important to eat every day, and how scientists use biotechnology to recreate extinct species. Scientist host Joe Hanson uses graphic illustrations, props, and a lot of humor to present the content, making it fun to watch and learn from. By incorporating knowledge from a variety of scientific disciplines, the series teaches viewers a little bit about a lot of topics, but in making the process fun, it inspires independent learning beyond what it presents. Expect occasional bathroom humor (one episode is dedicated to the science of farting, for instance) and mention of sex and romance as they relate to other topics.

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What's the story?

IT'S OK TO BE SMART is a series of educational videos in which host Joe Hanson, Ph.D. explores the science behind topics like how glaciers move, why hexagons are prevalent in nature, what accounts for luck, the viability of asteroid mining, and the critical role of toilets in human history. Using creative graphic imagery, humor, and a whole lot of his own knowledge, Hanson teaches viewers how and why things work the way they do. The videos incorporate scientific truths from anatomy, biology, astronomy, chemistry, human behavior, as well as the art of general observation.

Is it any good?

Hanson's ability to condense a broad scope of information and present it in an engaging and entertaining manner makes these videos a lot of fun to watch. The episode titles play on viewers' natural curiosity (who wouldn't want to know more about a 20-million-year-old spider???), and Hanson delivers thorough but succinct lessons that are easy for even novice scientists to grasp.

It's OK to Be Smart has some great knowledge to impart on just about any age, but the directions in which the content veers can be unpredictable. Though there's nothing strictly mature about any of the topics broached, related topics invite mention of subjects like sex and physical attraction. With some thoughtful selection, these videos can be a fun watch for families.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the intention of series like this one. Is it all about learning, all about entertainment, or a little of both? Is the information it presents thorough, or do you wish it delved deeper into the topics? Is the host a reliable source, and why?

  • How has technology changed the way we learn and access information? How does that make the process of finding facts easier? On the other hand, what new challenges does the internet present to deciphering fact from fiction?

  • What value is there to being a curious person? Do you think this trait is generally viewed as a positive or a negative characteristic? How does your own curiosity drive you to learn and improve?


TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love learning

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