Product Review: Looking Glass App

When my husband’s (or, really, anyone’s) iPhone is within grabbing distance, my three sons–at their very young ages of 7, 6, and 2–are incredibly intrigued by and surprisingly adept at negotiating the technology.  And while the ease with which young people handle every new contraption put before them is undeniably impressive, as a parent, it is more than a little terrifying to contemplate what they might accidentally stumble upon.

Enter Looking Glass.

Looking Glass  is unique among apps for the youngest viewers.  The download to your iPhone or iPad is free (and offers several free sample videos); and for an incredibly reasonable and highly affordable $3.99/month, subscribers receive three new videos through iTunes every week.  The videos are visually appealing; and so that parents can actually exhale, all have been vetted by a respected child psychologist who ensures that every aspect of every video is educational and appropriate for and beneficial to young children.

What attracted my sons to the app–before they even saw the crisp, colorful images on the screen–was the accompanying music.  The videos are narration-free.  And in this noisy world of information overload and 24-hour access to everything, these videos are a quiet respite; the lack of narration creates space for children to ask questions.  They inspire inquiry and communication.

And as a parent, I couldn’t ask for anything more.

******************************************

Looking Glass is offering a $25 iTunes gift card to one lucky reader of “My Three Sons.”  To enter, simply leave a comment on this post.  To enter more than once, share, share, and share again–on Facebook, Twitter, on your own blog, through a mass email.  Just come back here after each share and leave a comment regarding where you shared and with how many people.  You can enter up to five times.  Comments will be open until Wednesday, 14 December 2011, 11:59 PM EST.  We’ll conduct our drawing on Thursday, 15 December, and announce the winner on “My Three Sons” on Friday, 16 December 2011.  Good luck!

******************************************

AN INTERVIEW WITH PROJECT COMET CEO RYAN BUDKE

SH: Can you tell me a little about yourself and your role at Project Comet?

RB:  My name is Ryan Budke, and I’m the CEO and one of the co-founders of Project Comet. I’ve been involved in the web world for the past decade working at companies such as AOL and MySpace in their social and content brands, but that’s the boring stuff. I’m a kid at heart: I love creating, building (still play with LEGO) and watching things come together.

SH:  How was the idea for Looking Glass born?

RB: Recently, I went on a trip around the world, and I uploaded footage of my travels for my young nephew to watch on YouTube. When my sister told me they had to be with him the entire time he watched the videos (since it’s so easy for young kids to stumble upon inappropriate content while on sites like YouTube), I realized the need for a safe, walled-garden type of environment for children to explore videos on their own – and Looking Glass was born.

We wanted to create a library of videos where kids could dive into a wide range of topics, completely free of advertisements and full of content created specifically for them. I really think we’ve accomplished that with Looking Glass.

SH: What does $3.99/month buy a subscriber?

RB: For $3.99 a month, subscribers get three new videos every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, plus immediate access to the entire back catalog of Looking Glass videos. All of our videos are 3-5 minutes of original content set to an original soundtrack, and they cover a wide range of topics – from horseback riding to how cupcakes are made to how cable cars work, and everything in between.

SHWhy are the videos free of narration?

We decided to go the music-only route for several reasons. First and foremost, we wanted to make Looking Glass available to an international audience. By keeping the videos narration-free, there’s no language barrier.

Also, these videos were very much inspired by the kind of “how-to” vignettes my team and I used to watch on Mr. Rogers, Sesame Street and 321 Contact when we were kids. We loved how those videos relied solely on imagery to teach kids about different things (remember the crayon factory?), and we wanted Looking Glass to do the same thing: Let kids draw their own conclusions based on what they see.   

SH: What separates your product from other apps geared toward young viewers?

RB: There is no other subscription video app for children out there right now – we’re truly forging new territory here. Something that makes us stand out from other kids’ apps in general is the quality of our videos – one of the most consistent piece of feedback we’ve gotten from users is how beautiful and high-quality the footage is. Also, we work hand-in-hand with a noted child psychologist on each of our videos, so a lot more than just guesswork goes into creating the best content possible for our target audience of 2-8 year olds.

Follow Looking Glass on Twitter @LookingGlass and on Facebook at facebook.com/LookingGlassApp

Advertisements

39 thoughts on “Product Review: Looking Glass App

  1. Love this app! I have shared it with my sis (a mom of five boys), who could really use any extra help finding appropriate media for her digital natives.

  2. I’ve never heard of this application before, but it sounds really cool! I’m glad that there is technology out there that is safe for kids; there’s so much on the internet is not appropriate for younger viewers.

  3. What a cool idea! It’s nice to see how this kind of technology can be used in a kid-friendly way, especially with a throwback to the videos that you could only find when they were featured on children’s shows.

  4. I have shared this blog with 8 people by e-mail and shared it on my FB account with 69 friends. It truly is an app I would like to have for when the grandchildren are here. Thanks for sharing.

  5. I am so glad the tech world is gearing something towards the young; there is too much controversial information out there with which small children do “not” need to be bombarded.

  6. As a self-proclaimed tech geek I LOVE to see posts like this supporting the use of technology with children. So many people fear their kids will become addicted to the the piece of equipment and not stop to smell the roses (or splash around in the mud). I think that by allowing children to embrace technology they are going to learn SO MUCH. Imagine if we grew up having any information that we wanted at the touch of our fingertips? It’s a new generation and I can’t wait to see what the kids of today will be building tomorrow.

  7. Sounds good – I don’t have an iPhone but my daughter does, so I will share this with her and my other friends on Facebook.

  8. Shared this review on my Facebook page for my 150 friends to take a look! I love this app and look forward to more product reviews from you.

  9. I am excited to share this app. with my beautiful niece, Brenna (age 4). 🙂 I will happily share your informative post with my 1150 Facebook friends!

  10. Children (and adults) learn best by interacting with things around them, which could be an iPhone or a set of blocks, or some sand and a pail and shovel, or crayons, or a musical instrument. Those all have something to offer, and all obviously need tweaking to be age suitable. They all work best when an attentive parent or teacher mostly keeps out of the picture, but is there for help if needed.

    Older new technology (TV) is not interactive, but the sound and motion do make it attention-grabbing. This is the worst of all, because kids (and adults) sit and stare at it, but learn nothing. (OK, they learn one thing, which is to only pay attention to things that move and beep. That’s why they can’t read books.)

    Using this like a book as a focal point for shared activity sounds great, and a source of new material keeps it fun for child and adult, but using it “to keep them busy” is in my opinion harmful, like TV.

  11. I think it’s wonderful that children are adapting so well to today’s technology. Although it can be scary, it’s amazing to see how fast children are able to pick it up! I will definitely share this with the parents I babysit for!

  12. I am always eager to explore new technology apps. I will download this to my ipad this evening and check it out.
    It is amazing to watch small children navigate technology with the utmost ease. I am jealous of the way their brains work.

  13. I’m looking forward to downloading looking glass on my ipad that I use in the classroom. I appreciate the real-life photographs and lack of a narrative voice. It’s crucial that children be able to process and think things out in their mind, without a voice always telling them directly what is happening.

  14. Looking Glass sounds like a wonderful idea. With the advent of technology, our children are learning more, at a faster rate, than the parents could. Having a safe place for them to peruse their interests is great. Too bad it is about 10 yrs too late to be of help to me!! 😛

  15. The fact that the videos featured are narration-free is great–I appreciate that it is educational, but allowing for children to form their own ideas. I’ll have to recommend this to others! Thank you for sharing.

  16. As a parent of 3 young children, its hard to let them explore on sites like You Tube because i’m scared of what they will find. The Looking Glass sounds like a great site for all families with my same concern.

  17. This looks like a very cool app for kids. I’m sure my little boys would enjoy the videos! It seems easy to navigate, and the fact that it is set to music instead of narration is very appealing. I would love to give this a try on their iPad when Santa delivers it! Thanks so much for passing this info along!

  18. This reminds me a lot of the “How Things Work” books my brother and I used to have, but I really like the idea of the videos as a way to catch the attention of kids. I love seeing technology being developed as a resource for every type of person, including smaller ones!

I would love to hear your thoughts . . .

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s