BTV6 - alternative to Netflix and YouTube Kids - Bottlesodes

Bottlesodes-TV features videos that don’t overstimulate young minds

Hi, I’m Bethany!  Before I get into what I really want to talk about, let me introduce myself…

I’m a 30-something mom of two grade school kids and I’m SUPER happy to be able to write this guest post because I get to be way more candid here than I’ve been able to be in other interviews!  

Here is a beautiful photo taken for our family business…

And here is real life.  Haha. The far more accurate version of myself.  My daughter was actually drawing on my arm while my son swiped my phone and took over 200 pictures.  Sounds familiar, I’m sure! Because you’re not really a mom until you find 3 million selfies of feet or nostrils in your photos.  Haha.

So I’m going to talk about screen time for our children in this post:  my dilemmas with it, my feelings about it, and what me and my husband chose to do about it.  

To start it off, let me play out a scenario for you that was how it first got started (hopefully I’m not the only one who’s experienced this?)… ok here’s the scenario…

Trying to feed and put baby down for nap but toddler is too loud and clingy to do it efficiently.

After several attempts at including him, giving him other interesting things to play with, etc. I reach the point of futility and set up the iPad for him to use.  I try one app…bummer, shows are at least 30 minutes long, too much of a commitment, I need something shorter. Try another app…oh my gosh, so many ads that clearly aren’t meant for kids!  Try another app…ew, too mindless.  Another…too pop culture and/or annoying, I don’t want my child acting like that!  Another….”no, don’t click there, you accidentally bought a game!” Another…sheesh, he was two clicks away from seeing something sexual and/or violent!  Another…wow, this is so fast paced, he’s turned into a total zombie!

I was like the 21st century version of Goldilocks.  (If Goldilocks were a mom and that story were written today, I’m positive she would be an empathizer of my plight.  We would be friends, for sure.)

I never really felt at ease with what my son watched while I had to take care of my newborn.  I always worried. Sure, it helped me get baby down for a nap in reasonable time, but I never really felt like screens served me the way i needed them to.  I never truly felt in control, I never truly felt like my kids were safe during screen time, like places & shows were too unpredictable.   And that made me feel so unsettled.

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“My son was playing on my moms phone and was acting chaotic and wiggly, so I had him turn on BTV and almost instantly a calm settled in. THIS is an app worth having around for down time for the kids. My 9 year old loves it and his almost 2 year old brother watches over his shoulder.  Worry free! My son doesn’t kick and scream when I say “times up!” After that we usually try some of the fun things we watched kids do on the videos!”

   -Holly Groom

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I didn’t know until then just how particular I was about the quality of screen time my child was getting.  Maybe my expectations were too high?! Should I lower them so my kids can have fun and be entertained? But I kind of expected screen time to serve more of a purpose than to merely hold my child’s attention!  

“UGH!!   I wish we could just create our own app that included all the good things from the other ones I tried and just eliminated all the bad things” I vented to my husband one day (he’s a film maker…that knowledge will be relevant in about 3 sentences…)  I daydreamed about that and how then ALL my problems with screens would all be solved for the foreseeable future! Haha.

Well, as time progressed that joke turned into something we realized we felt really strongly about doing.  With his film experience and my child development degree, could we marry our talents & resources together to actually create our own product that would be healthy and safe for children?!  We had no idea what it would take, but we felt so compelled, like it was our calling (outside our first of raising two awesome kids)

…so we started small and just filmed small little videos with our kids.

And (sound the trumpets!) that has progressed today into a mindful streaming service that we call Bottlesodes TV (BTV).  It’s completely safe because we make all the content, there are no ads, no surprises.

As I’ve researched more in depth about the effects that screens have on children’s developing brains, it has explained a lot about what I experienced during those early years with my kids.  It was so validating! Shows made within the last 10-15ish years are so fast paced that children’s young brains can’t keep up. It exhausts them to the point that when screens are over the child’s brain actually needs time to recover and the child is unable to perform simple executive functions for several minutes.  That’s why my kids had such fantastic meltdowns whenever shows ended! That’s why they always reverted back to toddlers! That’s why it was always a battle between us and why I felt that pit in my stomach whenever I gave them their 1 minute warning before screens turned off!

We have intentionally made all our content on BTV as real-time and as real-life as possible.  Our shows won’t overstimulate your kids so that “post screen meltdown” is WAY less-likely.

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My kids loved it! What I loved most was that I didn’t have to worry about monitoring them because I trusted that all the content was safe. I was also impressed with a happy 5 year old who gave me the technology back without a tantrum. Win win for our family!”

-Samantha McClellan (subscriber, mom of 5)

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AND our content is created to inspire and motivate children to go explore and play in nature or try a new skill!  Our mantra is “draw them in to draw them back out”. We don’t want screens to hold their attention. We want screen time to make them excited to go play! If they have to have screen time, make it count!!   Our “harvesting honey” video (that is so captivating and beautiful, btw) will, guaranteed, make your child want to turn off the video and go eat some honey. I can’t tell you how many times that’s happened with my own kids and how many times I’ve heard that from others.  Haha.

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My kids first started enjoying making their own food because a cute little girl named Hero recorded herself making a sandwich in a silly and positive way. My kids turned off the ipad and ran into the kitchen to try it. (It was a huge, sticky mess, like a horrible war zone, but I turned a blind eye to it in the name of life skills).  We try really hard to make our content with children teaching other children so there’s as little interference from adults as possible. Kids just respond way better to other kids, ya know?

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“My kids love the variety of videos! . I have noticed a big difference when screen time is over, zero meltdowns. Thank you for creating this option.”

-Stephanie Cluff (subscriber, mom of 4)

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Like-minded parents and professionals have reached out to me and my husband, offering their unique contributions, thus creating a mindful, attentive, kind, wholesome team, helping Bottlesodes TV reach its full potential.  

Our latest news, we are currently in the pre-production phases of a Social-Emotional Learning Series all about emotions:  anger, happiness, sadness, fear, and disgust. We’ll have kids talk about what the emotions feel like, what triggers them, what to do about them, and the physiology behind them.  All in fun, simple, and relatable ways. It’s really exciting!! I think it will be something that children will really connect with!

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“This is the type of solution-based thinking that will save the world.”

-LG Marie

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Whatever you see on our streaming service, whatever opinions you have about it, It will only keep getting better.  Our number one goal will always be safety and the social/emotional development of children. Joe and I will always review content before it is made public.  Our own kids watch this, so of course that’s our priority!

You know, sometimes I feel like a walking contradiction…a mindful, self-proclaimed “screen-free” kind of woman who is creating shows for kids.  But basically we are just two parents, using the skills and talents and resources we were dealt, to try to make a difference for good in the lives of children.  In the end, that’s all any of us can do. We just try our best to give our kids what we feel is the best for them. We’re all in this together! Good luck to us all!!

Bethany Sines  | Mom & Co-creator of Bottlesodes TV

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