Mar 24, 2020 - Economy & Business

Free content gives relief to parents juggling kids and work at home

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Media outlets and e-learning companies are opening up access to free kids' content, tools and resources to parents who are struggling to entertain their kids at home while also working remotely.

Why it matters: As schools and offices both shut down because of the coronavirus outbreak, parents are trying to figure out how to do two full-time jobs at once. Access to free content and educational programs can help reduce that burden.

Driving the news: Time says that for the first time, it will provide parents at home with a free version of "TIME for Kids," its 25-year-old school-based publication. The package includes the entire TIME for Kids digital library.

  • Amazon Prime Video will offer family titles from its library and its subsidiary IMDB's free-ad supported library.
  • Amazon-owned Audible says it is now offering free audiobooks for kids stuck at home. Beginning last Saturday, "kids everywhere can instantly stream an incredible collection of stories, including titles across six different languages, that will help them continue dreaming, learning, and just being kids."
  • Nickelodeon has launched a new website with free content and educational coronavirus resources, like videos of SpongeBob SquarePants teaching children how to wash their hands.
  • The network is also offering Noggin, its preschool-aged subscription streaming service, for free for three months, according to a statement from its parent company ViacomCBS.

A slew of e-learning companies are also putting their classes and online tutorials online for parents to access for free.

  • Age of Learning is offering free access to educational software, which includes three products: ABCMouse for 2- to 8-year-olds, Adventure Academy for 8- to 13-year-olds, and Reading IQ, which suggests appropriate books after evaluating kids' reading levels.
  • Schools have to request the free access, but the company has already received more than 10,000 requests in the first few days of the offering, KTLA reports.

Some movie companies are fast-tracking kids content to streaming platforms given that most U.S. theaters are closed. Those titles, however, are only available for an on-demand fee or with a monthly subscription service.

  • Disney released "Frozen 2" to Disney+ customers three months ahead of schedule, although that move will not impact Disney's theatrical window, as the movie was released in theaters last year.
  • Universal Pictures, one of Hollywood's biggest studios, said last week that it will be making movies, including kids titles like "Trolls World Tour," available on-demand for a 48-hour rental period at the same time they're playing in theaters for roughly $20.

Yes, but: Most of these kids' activities and content rely on strong broadband connections. Many of the country's families, particularly in rural areas, do not have the same level of broadband access at home as they do at work. Additionally, the places they used to rely on for WiFi, like libraries, have also closed.

The big picture: Many parents who are forced to simultaneously balance child supervision and working at home have thrown screen time limits out the window.

  • Total day viewing of many of the largest children's TV networks, like The Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, Boomerang and Nickelodeon, have experienced massive upswings, per Digiday.

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