What’s the best streaming service for kids? It might just be Apple TV+

What’s the best streaming service for kids? It’s a tough—but very important—question and Liam Maguren argues why Apple’s streaming service might be the answer.

Everyone’s drowning in content. With businesses hungrier than ever to occupy every single minute of every single person’s attention, quantity often overrules quality.

Children’s content is no different. In some areas, it’s worse. James Bridle exposed the darkest consequence of this machine back in 2017 with his deep dive into the disturbing automated content racking up the view count on YouTube Kids. It’s the junk in the visual diet—a colourful wad of valueless minutes designed only to light parts of the brain that get kids to click and watch.

A healthy streaming service for kids (and for everyone, really) should contain none of that. It’s a significant reason why I feel Apple TV+ offers the best streaming platform for children. That may surprise some parents, given it doesn’t offer anywhere near as much content as the other big global streamers. But that’s also one of its biggest strengths.

Hello, Jack! The Kindness Show

You can observe all the family shows Apple TV+ has to offer on one page. Thanks to its dedication to showing exclusively* original shows and films, there are just a little over 30 titles listed here, making it easy for parents to scan through it and get a full awareness of all the content their children might engage with.

Compare that with the mountain of kids content piling up on Netflix, Disney+ and Prime Video. It’s an Everest mission to navigate those libraries if you want a complete understanding of all the various shows and films your child might run into.

Not that those platforms are plagued with the type of freakish AI-generated nightmare energy that still haunts YouTube Kids but there’s a similar cynicism lurking in the designs of some of the films and shows raking in the views. You can hear it in the voices of the brightly-coloured dancing animals singing a completely different Hakuna Matata song in Pinkfong Sing-Along Movie 2: Wonderstar Concert. You can see it in the listings of Disney+ Originals, where the majority of kids content centre on established franchises rather than an actual original idea.


This isn’t the case with Apple TV+. The kid-friendly side of the platform is filled with (actual) original shows made with noticeable care and attention, a quality most evident with Hello, Jack! The Kindness Show. The series sees 30 Rock star Jack McBrayer channel the work of Mr. Rogers in educating preschoolers about the world and the value of kindness. Teaming with a developmental psychologist, it’s a show openly determined to do right by the youngest of viewers.

And then there’s Stillwater, a quietly magnificent show about a friendly old panda and the wisdom he passes on to the kids next door. Based on Jon J Muth’s award-winning Zen Books, each episode caters to a simple idea—from realising personal goals to the wonder of rain—illuminated by one of the titular bear’s many stories. Harnessing an engulfing sense of tranquillity, Stillwater carves out a space so safe and peaceful he might just join fellow calm-core icons Winnie-the-Pooh and Joe Pera.

A good bulk of the Apple TV+ kids shows seek to maximise great children’s books. One of the platform’s most recent series, Frog and Toad, adapts writer and illustrator Arnold Lobel’s easy-to-read books about two best buds to sweet effect. Another, Harriet the Spy, brings author Louise Fitzhugh’s aspiring young writer to life with a rambunctious animated series gifted with an irresistibly catchy theme song from Courtney Barnett.

Amber Brown

Other shows aim to serve their young audiences the experiences of other kids who may not be like them—or, might be exactly like them. El Deafo, based on Cece Bell’s book, follows a girl who learns to live with her bulky hearing aid by embracing her inner superhero. Best Foot Forward, inspired by a true story, tells a similar story about a young boy with a prosthetic leg looking to meet the challenge of switching from homeschooling to public school.

Amber Brown and Life by Ella offer some more challenging material for older kids, the former adapting Paula Danziger’s story about a girl embracing art after her mum and dad’s divorce while the latter revolves around a 13-year-old overcoming serious illness. For something a little lighter but a bit edgier, there’s also Circuit Breakers, perhaps best described as Black Mirror by way of Goosebumps (showrunner Melody Fox previously adapted RL Stein’s The Haunting Hour).

Jane also looks towards the future, but with nature and climate change in focus, with stories “inspired by the mission of Jane Goodall” that see a bright young environmentalist embarking on quests to save endangered animals. Any kid who takes to this show is likely to dive into Lovely Little Farm, Tiny World and Big Beasts straight after.

Shape Island

It’s great to have kids shows exploring important topics but it’s just as important to give them great shows full of silly nonsense. DreamWorks’ Pinecone and Pony exists solely to entertain with its misadventures of a “no time for books” warrior wannabe named Pinecone and her doofy pony named Pony. Shape Island also fits nicely into this slot, a show which sounds like preschool mush, but is actually a deceptively witty all-ages comedy—I dare say, it’s as if Wes Anderson tried to make an educational show for toddlers and then completely ignored the brief.

To address the *, Apple TV+ does hold a couple of legacy franchises under its belt. Classic episodes of Fraggle Rock come bolstered by its revival series Fraggle Rock: Back to the Rock. However, the Peanuts collection remains the crown jewel of the platform’s library.

Alongside the timeless animated shorts, as well as a doco on creator Charles M. Schulz, Apple has sporadically released new movies crafted with clear affection for these beloved characters. In particular, It’s the Small Things, Charlie Brown embraces the humble spirit of Schulz’ creation with its amusing and touching tale of Sally trying to protect a little flower in the middle of the baseball mound. (It’s a pity Apple couldn’t acquire BlueSky’s excellent Snoopy and Charlie Brown: The Peanuts Movie but as long as Disney holds that football, they’ll continue to pull it.)


If there are any limits to Apple TV+’s otherwise excellent offering for children, it’s their lack of films. In terms of features, there are barely any, though it doesn’t hurt to have Cartoon Saloon’s outstanding Oscar nominee Wolfwalkers there to be watched and rewatched. Apple’s also the proud owner of this year’s Academy Award winner for Best Animated Short Film, The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse.

Despite this minor shortcoming, Apple TV+ should be considered a sharply cut diamond of a streaming platform for kids. It might not boasts 1000+ hours of television for your child, but that isn’t anywhere near as important as having a dense and concentrated selection of shows handcrafted for their minds and hearts.