Some of the most salient memories of my childhood center around the work of one intrepid man - Fred Rogers. You might know Fred as Mister Rogers, the friendly neighbor who taught kids how to face their fears and process their emotions. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was nothing short of a cultural phenomenon. No one had high hopes that this lowly public-access television show would become the behemoth it remains to this day, least of all Fred himself. And yet, Mister Rogers and his gang of real and imaginary neighbors became a staple of American childhood. Today’s kids may be able to watch reruns, but no show could ever replace Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. Most shows don’t even attempt to fill the gap left by Fred’s passing, focusing instead on flashy graphics and “fun”. But one man has intentionally taken up Fred’s mantle. You might know Stevin John by another name: Blippi.
We’re a Blippi house and I love every minute!
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Stevin John, the creative mind behind Blippi, cites his childhood love of Fred Rogers as part of his inspiration for Blippi’s wholesome character. When Stevin became an uncle, he realized his nephews didn’t have any children's video options remotely resembling Mister Rogers. He decided he’d design a new character, someone who focused on making learning fun without losing the family-friendly neighborliness that so deeply influenced Stevin’s own youth. Using his background in brand management and content creation, Stevin started producing the first Blippi videos in early 2014.
“My goal with Blippi was to bring positive emotions and memories to the act of learning.” - Stevin John
Parents of toddlers have to be on guard when it comes to online safety. The internet can be a dark and disturbing place and parents struggle to find a safe space for their little ones. YouTube might be popular with tykes who love to watch Ryan play with toys, but it’s a bit like the wild west. Remember the Momo scare from earlier this year? Yes, a paywall might keep content kid-friendly - but it also excludes those who can’t afford to pay a premium for family-friendly videos.
That’s why Blippi is different. Blippi’s videos are available on YouTube and the official Blippi website. Parents can choose wholesome content without having to pay premiums. Fred’s show was available on public access television; Blippi is also openly available for free!
I’ll be honest: any video content created for toddlers has a high potential for irritating parents and caregivers. Why? Because toddlers like things that most adults find annoying! Little kids like to get their hands sticky, eat sand, and scream in the middle of the library. Even though I know my kids are learning, it’s hard not to clench my teeth when I hear the jingle in a YouTube video for the fifteenth time.
But not with Blippi! Maybe it’s because he’s an actual person and not an animated character, or maybe it’s because Blippi’s songwriter pens original ditties. No matter how childish Blippi might act, it’s hard to be mad at him! The Blippi character has an innocent charm that makes him easy for toddlers to relate to and easy for parents to love. I guess it doesn’t hurt that my kids are so jazzed to learn from Blippi! Stick around my house long enough and I guarantee you’ll hear them (and me) singing: “I’m an excavator! Hey, dirt - see ya later!”
I’m a stereotypical millennial; my lifetime has straddled our analog past and the digital present day. Today’s toddlers have a vast selection of specialized children’s digital content to choose from, but not all content is created equally. Blippi really is the best of the best! In an internet full of Momo and Tide Pod challenges, every toddler needs a loving friend who engages them in good clean fun. Fred Rogers was that friend for me and Blippi is that friend for my kids. B-L-I-P-P-I Love Blippi!