Podcasts: Media for the Family

At Project B3 we’ve been writing more and more about “media mentoring” which is the idea that kids and teens need adult  guidance to help them navigate the online world in a responsible way. Two ways to we can be an example to the young people in our lives is by 1) choosing the right types of media we consume and 2) how to balance our screen time with other activities. We’ve written about playing video games with your tweens or sitting along side them while they explain their favorite app. These are all great ways to connect. But what about when you just want to chill out? Or when you have a long drive ahead you? That’s where a podcast can really come in handy, bring you together as a family, and might even get you hooked as a listener. And the best part is- it’s screen-free!

Since many of our readers are parents of Tweens and Teens, this first list of podcasts (found on Common Sense Media) is tailored to you. Stay tuned for a follow-up of great podcasts for younger listeners.

Science Friday
Regularly one of the most popular science podcasts out there, “SciFri” (as it’s known to its fans) has been informing and entertaining listeners for more than 20 years. For curious science lovers who want to learn about the latest discoveries, Ira Flatow’s weekly discussions with experts and listeners are a must-listen.
Best for: Tweens and teens

Six Minutes
Six Minutes is an enthralling, suspenseful audio drama from the creators of the award-winning podcast The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel. Featuring a voice cast of real kids, each six-minute episode continues the story of an 11-year-old girl named Holiday who finds herself in the middle of a mystery adventure with no memory of where she came from. New updates are released twice a week, and you’ll be counting down the minutes to see what happens next.
Best for: Tweens

Dear Hank and John
Real brothers and vloggers John Green (a young adult novelist) and Hank Green (a YouTuber) co-host a lighthearted advice podcast where they answer questions on everything from random thoughts to deep, emotional topics. The advice they give out is mostly good and always entertaining. Their easy camaraderie and self-deprecating charm make you feel like you’re in on their inside jokes (of which there are many). 
Best for: Teens

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text
What if the Harry Potter series was considered a holy book? While this can feel true to many Potter fans, this thoughtful, spiritual podcast actually puts it into practice. Each episode takes a chapter of a Harry Potter book and looks at it through the lens of a universal theme like love, hope, or destiny. You don’t need to be religious to enjoy this delightful series, but it’s not always spoiler-free, so make sure you’ve read the books ahead of time.
Best for: Tweens and teens

Pants on Fire
Pants on Fire is a silly game show where a tween gets to interview two grown-ups, one who’s an expert on a topic and one’s who’s lying. Hosts Deborah and L.I.S.A. (a sound effects “robot”) guide the kid contestant through the interviews with some goofy jokes and question suggestions, but it’s the kids that make this show worth checking out.
Best for: Younger tweens

This Peabody award-winning radio series/podcast delivers scientific ideas in a creative, innovative way. The episodes are a joy to listen to, with a great deal of emphasis put on sound design in addition to the hosts’ clever banter. Some episodes feature strong language, but overall this is a great choice for mature listeners.
Best for: Tweens and teens

Stuff You Missed in History Class
Little-known history comes alive three times a week in this fascinating, comprehensive podcast from the people at HowStuffWorks. You don’t need to be a history buff to get hooked, but if you’re not, you might become one after a few episodes. With a focus on weird events, overlooked stories, and underrepresented groups, this popular series is educational, too.
Best for: Tweens and teen

Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me
Brainy teens will love this NPR quiz show for its wacky blend of news and comedy. Longtime host Peter Sagal and a panel of comedians/journalists run through a series of recurring segments about the latest news, and listeners can call in to compete. There’s even a weekly celebrity guest. Although it’s appropriate for radio broadcast, occasionally the jokes get a bit off-color, so make sure teens are mature enough to handle it.
Best for: Teens

What’s Good Games
What’s Good Games is an informative, funny weekly podcast all about video games. The three hosts (who happen to be female) have great chemistry and demonstrate clear expertise on the biggest games on the market. The (very long) episodes cover news, listener questions, and personal experiences playing games. But keep in mind: While the podcast itself is OK for teens, some of the games they discuss are very mature.
Best for: Teens

Have you ever wanted to know who would win a fight: Luke Skywalker or Spider-Man? Finally, someone is taking this question and others like it seriously in a geeky podcast about beloved comic, sci-fi, and fantasy characters. And while the audio quality isn’t a match for some of the more established podcasts on this list, the lively, well-researched, well-argued debates between the hosts more than make up for it.
Best for: Teens

This list is just a sample of great podcasts out there for tweens and teens. Depending on your family’s interests, I’m sure you can find just about any topic to please everyone. As a side note, I don’t have a tween or teen in my family and I regularly listen to “Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” and  “RadioLab.” So, I know that they are not only tolerable, but enjoyable for adults as well as younger people.