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Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that specializes in content ratings for children’s programming, is adding kids podcasts to its catalogue of reviews.
Similar to its approach to ratings and reviews of movies, TV shows, books, and games, Common Sense’s podcast review library will look at a podcast’s appropriateness and value for children up to 17 years old. Categories include educational value, overall quality of the podcast, and an overview of the presence of certain topics that may not be appropriate for children, such as violence, drugs, and alcohol.
The podcast ratings and reviews will also pay particular attention to a show’s co-listening quality for families who want to listen together, educational value for caregivers and educators, audio quality and length, and whether or not the show features a diverse array of voices and content. At launch, Common Sense is also releasing 15 curated listening guides for kids and families that group together podcasts based on themes like mental health, diverse characters and stories, and social-emotional learning.
“It’s very clear the podcast world is growing, but what’s less obvious is how impactful and innovative kids and family podcasts are and will continue to be as they expand and evolve,” Laura Ordoñez, Common Sense Media’s head of podcast ratings and reviews, said. “Our goal is to help parents and educators navigate the kids podcast space [and] to give them the tools they need to decide what podcasts work best for their kids, families, and classrooms.”
Thanks in part to stay-at-home restrictions caused by the pandemic, the kids and family podcasting industry has seen a 20 percent increase in listenership since 2019, according to a 2021 NPR and Edison Research report. Hollywood studios have also doubled down on adaptations based on popular kids podcast IP and are launching companion podcasts based on hit shows like Arthur and CoComelon.
Given that there isn’t a similar parental guideline system for podcasts as there is for children’s TV and movies, Common Sense is notably filling a gap for parents and caretakers seeking out listening guides and content warnings for audio shows. While the podcast review library will begin with around 80 reviews of audio programming geared toward kids, such as Wow in the World, The Big Fib, and A Kids Book About: The Podcast, Common Sense will eventually expand its reviews and ratings to podcasts with broader audiences.
Executives at children’s podcast companies also note that Common Sense’s ratings can help with discoverability.
“Discovering good podcasts has long relied on recommendations from friends or hit-or-miss suggestions from podcatcher algorithms,” Matthew Winner, the head of audio at A Kids Company About, said. “This is an industry-changer, and the Common Sense Media podcast ratings and reviews will translate to thousands more kids and families discovering shows for the first time.”
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