Listen Up, Kids: In-Flight Audio Content Gives Children a Break From Screens


Image: Jorge de la Paz

A recent study on the impact of screen time on children has some adults singing the praises of audio content.

Parents have been worried about the effects of screen time on their children since television sets started popping up in living rooms in the 1950s. The explosion in mobile-device use among kids today has only made things worse.

Though experts and parents rarely agree on how much screen time is too much in the digital age, findings in a recent study published in JAMA Pediatrics, a journal published by the American Medical Association, have upped the ante considerably, with evidence showing that the brain structure of toddlers may be altered in those who frequently engage with screens. Such research has left many parents scrambling to find alternative ways to entertain their wee ones. Luckily, kid-friendly audio options are emerging: Spotify, Pinna and Sony Music all curate audio content geared specifically toward children.

“Audio solutions are the perfect antidote to screen time. They give children a breather and a chance to use their imagination … rest their eyes and use their ears and minds to conjure up pictures and thoughts,” says Philippa Starns, audio manager UK, Spafax.

Aside from audiobooks, music and Kidz Bop singalongs, Starns says Spafax also offers iMinds Junior audio content, covering a range of topics from photography and impressionism to the Renaissance and Roman myths. Starns describes it as fun, educational “bite-sized nuggets for kids.”

“Audio solutions are the perfect antidote to screen time. They give children a breather and a chance to use their imagination.” – Philippa Starns, Spafax

Global Eagle also distributes children’s audio content via Open, its cloud-based digital content platform, covering everything from Baby Shark videos on YouTube to bespoke storybooks, pop music and the soundtracks of popular children’s movies like Frozen and Trolls. “Audio is used by younger passengers and their families to educate, but also to provide entertainment, wellness and promote sleep on board,” says Frances Hodgson, the company’s global audio manager.

“Between the ages of two and 16, tastes and listening habits change dramatically, and so it’s necessary for airlines to host a wide variety of content to meet this demand,” she says. With trending audio also shifting from week to week, airlines would benefit from a platform like Open, which enables audiovisual content to be uploaded in real time to aircraft over Global Eagle’s connectivity network, Hodgson says. Virgin Atlantic and KLM’s recent IFE content refreshes, which included much larger kids’ sections, are further proof that airlines are keen to capitalize on the children’s audio content boom right now.

“Listen Up, Kids” was originally published in the 10.2 April/May issue of APEX Experience magazine.