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.
SH: Why 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