Netflix Launches a Whole New Way to Entertain Kids
byEricka SouterJun 21, 2017
Photograph by Netflix
It's hard to impress kids these days. So when Netflix announced
its new interactive children's programming, I was initially skeptical. I
knew it would have to be pretty cool to hook the iPad-, fidget-spinner-
and PlayStation-loving set.
Turns out, it is.
This week, the streaming giant
rolled out a choose-your-own-adventure experience, featuring
new as well as beloved characters. The first story is "Puss in Book: Trapped in an Epic Tale," featuring the sword-wielding cat, Puss in Boots.
Kids can direct plot points with the touch of a finger. What happens to
the characters is completely under your control and will work with TVs
(using a remote to make the choices), all streaming devices, PlayStations
and Xboxes. In a world where swiping right is just as intuitive
as walking, it's a pretty awesome innovation.
However, the ultimate test
came when my all-too-cynical second grader, Lex, gave it a whirl. He eyed
the iPad warily as the "Puss in Boots" adventure began, but he soon
became invested in the story—mainly because he felt it was his story
"Should Puss kiss the Evil Queen, or would a handshake be more
keen?" the narrator asks. He carefully considered the options and
chose the kiss. "I want to see where this goes," he giggled.
best part of this new capability is that it forces children to
think about the story, rather than just mindlessly watching. Lex
was so engaged that he went back to play out the scenarios he had not
chosen the first time.
Final verdict: "This is really cool," he beamed.
However, there is one complaint Netflix will surely field: Why aren't there more of these interactive programs? Right now "Puss in Boots" is the only offering. Stay tuned. "Buddy Thunderstruck: The Maybe Pile," about a semi-truck racing dog,debutson July 14, and "Stretch Armstrong: The Breakout," about a stretchy teen superhero,
is in the works for a 2018 release.