Cartoon Network’s new app lets kids play and watch: Is multiple-screen viewing good for us?

Do your kids routinely use You Tube or other internet sites to watch cartoons or videos on demand? Do your kids use two devices at once – such playing Angry Birds on the iPod or iPad while listening to a TV show in the background?

Well those kids are exactly the type that Cartoon Network is after with its new watch-and-play app that  millions have downloaded since its release in late 2012.

According to USA Today, Cartoon Network’s new app offers clips from more than 50 shows. There are also currently six games based on TV shows such as the very popular “Adventure Time.” (My kids love this show, and I can’t bear to watch it!)

Executives plan to introduce new cartoon characters on the app as well and those that “click” with kids may be added to the TV schedule.

On smaller devices, kids have to toggle between watching and playing but on the iPad they can have a split screen to watch and play at the same time.

From USA Today:

“James McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester Research and author of Digital Disruption: Unleashing the Next Wave of Innovation, says Cartoon’s app is a great way to combat declining TV ratings.

” ‘If they start getting massive views for their shows on the iPad, they can start pressuring Nielsen to count iPad views in the TV ratings. It’s a smart bet for the future,’ McQuivey says.

“From where he sits, (Cartoon Network Digital Executive Chris) Waldron sees TVs remaining prominently in the picture. As he looks into the future living room — say, circa 2018 — kids are still sitting with their tablets, and the TV is still on. ‘There are a lot of people doing both at the same time now, but there will be more of that. TV manufacturers are introducing apps into their TVs, and that world where you seamlessly move back and forth between interactivity and watching TV will only increase.’ “

Kids aren’t alone in the multi-tasking of screen use. According to a Mashable article, some marketers say that between 70 to 80 percent of adults are using a second screen (either a phone or iPad) while watching TV at night.

Another Mashable article reported that 35 percent of Super Bowl viewers were using a secondary device at the same time.


“People have been open to the possibility of the measurements,” says Dean Donaldson, global head of media innovation at DG/Mediamind. “They’re looking for real-time — how many Facebook requests and how many comments we’re getting.”

“We can talk about television being accessed by multiple screens, and therefore the need to advertise on multiple screens equally follows suit — but that doesn’t speak to the mediums working together,” says Donaldson. “The fact is that when you’re sitting in front of your television at home, we’re seeing data as high as 70% or 80% that we’re using a smartphone or tablet while watching a television daily.”

DG/Mediamind is innovating to tap into users who are active on second screens during television — especially when that user is interested in gleaning information from the show and looking up content on the web. Recently, Mediamind has been packaging specialized ad serving programs that specifically work for a TV company’s mobile app. In short, when a user turns on the app, the server pushes relevant advertisements that are based on the television program at hand — effectively mitigating the challenges that arise when motivating a potential customer to take the next step to engagement. Instead of putting the onus on the viewer to take a step toward second-screen extras and ecommerce platforms, the company has developed an app that delivers carefully timed and synchronized pushes of content while a user is watching television. Donaldson says the advertisements can be controlled at a core level with the broadcasting system, and they can provide amazing depth to already-present advertisements.”

So here are my questions:

Does it bother you for a kid to be engaged on two screens – watching or playing or looking things up? Does it just indicate that the TV show they are watching isn’t that engaging?

Do your worry about it affect their attention span or does it show a greater control of attention to do both tasks at once?

Are your kids using two screens at once?

Are you using two screens at once? Do you think it’s healthy for adults? Does it reflect anything about our ability to be attentive or is it that the TV shows aren’t holding our attention or are you looking up complementary information to the show you are watching?

Would you want an app streaming you content or ads based on things you were watching on TV?

Are your kids using Cartoon Network’s new app?

12 comments Add your comment


February 7th, 2013
12:59 pm

My kids are too old for this, but if they weren’t I would have to say no I would not allow it. Too much time is spent on computers, video games, iPads, iPhones, iPods, etc.

I would much rather my kids be outside, getting exercise and fresh air, instead of SITTING inside, in front of a monitor, iPad, etc.


February 7th, 2013
1:56 pm

I was going to ask how long it would take for someone to say something about kids getting “fresh air”. I was too late.

I have a 5 and an 8 year-old. They are both extremely active. Both play sports several times a week and have a great time riding their scooters and exploring the woods behind our house. Once homework is done and baths are taken, I have no problem in my kids playing with an electronic device or just chilling for a while in front of the tube.

They’ve worked and played hard, and it’s OK to chill out for a while. I’ve always needed to unwind before I could sleep.

Looks like a cool app. I’ll show it to my kids.


February 7th, 2013
2:03 pm

I’d say no. All the schools need are more kids who are expecting class to be like a cartoon network app. In addition, why expose your kid to more and more sales pitches on jumk cereal, etc?


February 7th, 2013
2:24 pm

Can we spell “A.D.H.D.”? Hello? How are kids supposed to learn how to focus and concentrate on a task with they are bombarded with this kind of sensory overload?


February 7th, 2013
2:46 pm

@Jarvis – when my kids were small, I couldn’t keep them inside. I would have to tie them down and FORCE them to be indoors, even when it’s cold outside. My parents were the same way with us, and maybe that’s why neither myself or my brother are computer junkies. To this day, I would much rather be outside, even raking leaves, than staring at a computer monitor, laptop, or iPad. I’ve never understood the fascination with computer games, etc.

So some of us just don’t really care for modern technology as a past time or a way to unwind at the end of the day. Now for me, I relax at the end of the day with a few glasses of wine, and a hot bath. Not everyone “relaxes” with a computer….just saying.

K's Mom

February 7th, 2013
2:53 pm

My kids are small, but I was recently chastised by another mom because I do not my 2 1/2 year old play with apps on my phone, he does not have a leap pad, nor do we let him get on the computer. When we go to a restaurant he has to wait like everyone else even if that means my husband or I walk around outside with him. I do let him watch a little TV (toy Story movies are his favorite right now), but I see no reason to get your kid addicted to technology before preschool. He is not perfectly behaved, but he can entertain himself at times when I am completing work and he can sit through a 20 minute meal without wigging out to play with something.

We are by no means perfect parents, but a child can live in 2013 without all of the technological crap that is out there.

K's Mom

February 7th, 2013
2:54 pm

And @Mayhem, K has been home sick this week and it is pouring rain here today. He keeps looking out the blinds and asking to go outside. It breaks my heart to tell him no.


February 7th, 2013
2:59 pm

Not to mention that with the interactive part, the station is gathering data on your family…

Folks, there are lots of kinds of abuse. Letting your nine year old have sex and get pregnant is one. Perhaps hyperstimulating your child with multiple screen viewing is another?


February 7th, 2013
5:06 pm

I actually meant to say that Multitasking is OVER rated. My bad!


February 7th, 2013
5:49 pm

All the research out there tells us that our kids need LESS screen time, so this is probably a bad idea. Most of the shows on Cartoon Network are crude, mindless garbage anyway, so double exposure to their programming seems like a quick and easy way to turn your kid into an idiot.


February 7th, 2013
10:28 pm

Funny how those who would discourage such are regulars on this blog, i.e. on computer, not out in fresh air. Who can say there isn’t room for both? Saw an interesting thing yesterday while in waiting room/hospital lobby of major hospital in Atlanta. Many mid-20’s folks w/white jackets, waiting. ALL on electronic devices. A Doctor came out, introduced himself and advised they would be all be following him on his rounds. They put away their electronic devices. Guess what? They somehow made it to “soon to be doctors” with electronic devices. My 21 year old daughter asked me “why is the old stream so afraid of the new stream?” Good question, and please no fresh air comments. They have both, if they choose.


February 8th, 2013
12:13 am

Observer, you have no freakin’ idea what I do when I’m not on the computer. My dog gets walked four miles a day in 15-25 degree weather (we’re in the Midwest for a year), and I walk about half a mile to and from work each day. My husband walks about 2.5 miles round trip to his work, I walk six blocks to the grocery store rather than drive. We’ve actually gone over a week a time between driving the car. So, if I choose to warm up by browsing a blog on a computer — by god, I’ve EARNED it.

No one is saying that technology is “bad” — but there is a time and a place for it.