Are you listening? Podcasts for Kids

I’m sure there are a few of us who can quickly name our favorite podcasts. Whether it is listening to the ever-popular true crime stories, a comedian interviewing another comedian, or commentary on this week’s news stories, I can always count on having an interesting conversation with another adult about something they heard on a podcast. Podcasts have been growing in popularity the last few years. According to a 2020 Edison Research survey, an estimated 155 million people in the United States listen to podcasts and a majority of these listeners are under 35 years old (1). While podcasts are popular with young adults, many people do not know that there are also numerous kids podcasts, podcasts created for children as young as 3-years-old.

In the age of COVID, kids podcasts have been growing in popularity as parents are looking to find alternatives to screen time. According to a survey conducted by Kids Listen, many parents do consider podcasts a legitimate alternative to screens (2). As kids podcasts become more popular, it is important to understand how children interact with this form of media and learn from it. At this time, there is little available research on kids podcasts.

So what do we know about kids podcasts? We know that there is a large library of kids podcasts available to children of all ages. There are kids podcasts geared towards science topics such as Brains On!, history topics such as The Past and The Curious, and storytelling podcasts like What If World. Some podcasts like But Why create episodes based on questions children submit to the creators on various subjects and current world events. There are numerous podcasts out there for many interests and many ages. At the end of this blog, you can find a few links to websites that have compiled lists of kids podcasts.

Recently, an organization known as Kids Listen, conducted a survey with 436 families on children’s podcast listening habits (2). This survey reported that children listen on average to two different podcasts on a weekly basis. The majority of children like to listen to the same podcast episode between 4 to 9 times and they like to talk to others about the topic covered in the podcast after listening. Most children listen to podcasts at home and the most popular podcast genres are stories, history, and science. Most podcasts listeners are in the 5 to 8-years-old range, but 22% of the families surveyed listen to podcasts with their preschool aged children. 

While we have an idea of children’s podcast listening habits, we don’t have much, if any, research on how children learn from podcasts. However, there is some research in the psychology and education fields on a related topic- children’s learning from audiobooks. A study examining preschoolers’ comprehension from audiobooks found that vocabulary and prior knowledge on a topic predicted children’s understanding of audiobook material (3). In addition, a study conducted with 4- to 6-year-olds found that inferential skills, the ability to predict or infer what will happen next, and knowledge of word meanings helped children in their listening comprehension (4). It’s also been found that listening comprehension is better than reading comprehension up until 7th grade (5). While audiobooks are a different format than podcasts, this research shows that vocabulary supports listening comprehension and that children as young as 4-years-old are capable of comprehending narrative and informational content presented in audio format.

This research, however, is only a starting point. I believe there is a need to better understand how children are learning from kids podcasts. What is it about podcasts that capture and maintain children’s attention? Do children remember what they listened to? Are podcasts a good alternative to screen time? Are podcasts good to use during “quiet time” or a part of bedtime routines? How can podcasts be used effectively in the classroom? How can we make podcasts available to a larger and more diverse audience? These are some unanswered questions that can be investigated by both psychologists and education researchers.

Even though the research community does not have the answers to how children learn from podcasts, podcasts are still a unique entertainment option available to parents and children. They might even be an additional way to entertain your child during the pandemic! To introduce your child to podcasts, first figure out what your child likes. Explore some podcasts together and decide on a few to try out (see links below). You can listen the next time you are sitting outside, coloring at the kitchen table, or in the car. With what researchers know about the importance of co-viewing media with your child (6), it is also important to listen to the podcast episodes with your young child. When you listen with your child you are then able to expand upon the topic covered in the podcast episode and discuss this with your child during or after listening. This will help your child engage more with the content and possibly understand the material better. It is also a fun activity for you and your child to do together!

Welcome to the world of kids podcasts and happy listening!


Kids Podcast Resources:

 Kids Listen

 Common Sense Media

 New York Times List of Kid Podcasts



 1. Edison Research. (2020, March 19). The infinite dial 2020.

2. Kids Listen. (2017). Kids Listen inaugural survey. The first survey of children’s podcast listening habits.

3. Paciga, K. A. (2015). Their teacher can’t be an app: Preschoolers’ listening comprehension of digital storybooks. Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, 15(4), 473–509.

4. Florit, E., Roch, M., & Levorato, M. C. (2011). Listening text comprehension of explicit and implicit information in preschoolers: The role of verbal and inferential skills. Discourse Processes, 48(2), 119–138.

5. Sticht, T. G., & James, J. H. (1984). Listening and reading. In P. D. Pearson, R. Barr, M. L. Kamil, & P. Mosenthal (Eds.), Handbook of reading research (pp. 255–292). New York: Longman.

6. Barr, R., McClure, E. R., & Parlakian, R. (2018). What the Research Says About the Impact of Media on Children Aged 0-3 Years Old. Zero to Three.