Even pre-pandemic, screen time has been a contentious and ubiquitous challenge for most parents. It can be difficult to find digital content that both entertains and educates. Within the ever-expanding ether of children’s online edutainment, founder James Ruben has created Hellosaurus, a new app that promises to take children from being passive observers of online content to active participants and, ultimately, lifelong learners.
About Hellosaurus App
Winner of the 2021 Kidscreen Awards, Hellosaurus produces interactive stories that build confident, curious, and creative kids. With a platform that boasts response-based algorithms, bright colors, easy navigation and carefully organized, age-appropriate content, kids can learn about acting, cooking, sports, or even stink bugs! The Hellosaurus app is aimed at children aged two to eight, and features curated, interactive material from some of their favorite content creators, including Cosmic Kids Yoga, Mother Goose Club, Kidz Bop, The Pop Ups, Duncan the Skunk, and The Wiggles.
It is the partnership with the latter, of course, that has garnered a massive amount of attention. The modern-day equivalent of the Beatles for preschoolers, this musical foursome from Down Under has been entertaining millions of families across the globe for three decades. For their 30th celebration, The Wiggles have partnered with Ruben to launch an interactive series, The Wiggles + You, exclusively on Hellosaurus.
Ready, Steady Wiggle!
“Like a lot of creatives in the kids media world, the Wiggles were looking for a way to take their content — where they’re used to staring at the camera and pausing for a response — to the next level by having the kids participate,” Ruben tells Parentology. “Once they saw what we were doing, and that they could do it themselves, and they didn’t need to beat about the game developers or engineers or anything, they could just make videos and use our plug and play tools, they were sold. They’ve always wanted a child to be the fifth wiggle in that way.”
The Wiggles + You features all four Wiggles in six interactive stories where kids can go on an epic playdate with their favorite Wiggle to venture on a silly safari, a fancy tea party, a detective day, an airport adventure and more while utilizing problem-solving skills and creative thinking to collaborate alongside The Wiggles. Throughout each adventure, children respond and react in real-time by drawing, building, solving, and helping The Wiggles along the way.
The Wiggles have also licensed ten of their iconic music videos to be transformed into interactive experiences for kids. Children will participate in new immersive segments that promote positivity, friendship, and cooperation, right on their touchscreen.
“If you want to see a room light up, watch what happens when children start singing. It’s a joy that spreads through young and old. It’s been a real adventure over the last thirty years, and we hope to be having this much fun for at least another 30 years to come! We are thrilled to be joining Hellosaurus in our funnest digital adventure yet.” said Anthony Field (the Blue Wiggle) in a statement.
Hellosaurus makes interaction a critical part of the story, and combines traditional gaming engineering with streaming video. The content comes to life, taking children from passive observers to active participants and redefining how children experience screentime.
According to Ruben, Hellosaurus’ proprietary technology and curriculum work together to make your child’s participation the central focus. The interactivity is woven throughout the content and allows children to play a main role in moving the stories forward, all while skill-building alongside their favorite creators.
Through this experience, children develop parasocial relationships with these creators, turning them into trusted friends who can influence the child in a positive way by sparking creativity, fostering curiosity, and building confidence.
“Our content is specifically for kids and asks them essentially to take on a role within the story,” says Ruben. “The child takes on this role of a Broadway star or a pilot or a firefighter or a scientist, and helps the character solve the problem through narrative while learning about that role. So the child gets to practice these softer skills through the interaction; critical thinking, empathy, self-awareness.”
Why Parents Might Like It
While Hellosaurus doesn’t necessarily encourage parent-child interaction the way some educational apps do, there are parallel play opportunities for parents to jump in and help their kids navigate the story.
Hellosaurus was thoughtfully and deliberately developed with input from educators, child specialists, and parents themselves. “We have a team of academic advisors, full-time folks that are parents, have PhDs in child psychology and have spent a lot of time in the kids’ media development space,” Ruben says, adding that the app is COPPA-certified, 100% ad-free, and doesn’t hold onto personal data. “Our goal is to make sure that parents feel great about what they’re handing over, and that safety and quality are paramount to that decision.”
There are currently more than 10,000 families using the Hellosaurus app, and while it’s iOS-only right now, Ruben says that both an Android app and a web-based experience are in the works.
“Typically, there are two options — there are streaming platforms, and educational apps. The educational apps are what parents wish they could use, but kids spend three to five minutes on them and then get bored. Streaming services keep your child engaged for longer, but they’re super passive and not that educational,” Ruben says. “What we’ve tried to do is blend the two. The response has been great. What we hear from parents is that we’ve offered an interactive experience that they feel great about handing over to their child, that can also keep their attention. And it’s something that lots of other apps can’t do.”