I had a handful of kids’ story cassette tapes when I was wee. I remember Noddy, Willo the Wisp, and Pinocchio in particular. What’s interesting is that I remember what these stories looked like, even though there were no visuals.
Audio is a powerful medium because it works in collaboration with your brain to create characters, images, and environments. You don’t need to be a neuroscientist to see why this can be good for brain development.
Unsurprisingly, it’s still possible to buy your kid a cassette player these days. But, let’s face it, cassette tapes were never the most childproof device, were they? They’d break just by rewinding them once too many times.
At the other end of the spectrum, you have smartphones, tablets, and their infinite offerings. These might be less fragile than cassette tapes, but if most adults are hooked on them, what chance does a toddler have?
So, if you’re looking to
force your child to listen to your podcast entertain your kids with audio stories, what are your remaining options? I’ll tell you one of them: The Yoto Player.
A quick heads up that our links to the Yoto Player are affiliates. We’d earn a small commission should you choose to buy through them. Affiliates help support all our free content and never cost you extra!
What is a Yoto Player?
The Yoto Player (now in its 3rd generation) is a screen-free audio player for kids. My two-year-old daughter will get one from the big man in the red suit this Christmas, but I’m doing my due diligence and having a shot of it beforehand.
How the Yoto Player Works
The Yoto Player is linked up to a series of kid-focused radio stations and podcasts commissioned by Yoto. You also get a bunch of cards with audio stories on them. These cards slot easily into the top of the device and start playing immediately. For podcasting parents, you can even add your own recordings to these cards.
You can set up and control the Yoto Player via the Yoto App (iOS or Android), but there’s no reason your kid would ever need access to it. Everything they need to do, they can do on the device itself.
Buttons, Dials, & Controls
There are two main controls on the Yoto Player: the left-hand orange button and the right-hand orange button.
The left-hand button is a volume control dial, and pressing it will skip through tracks or chapters in your audio.
The right-hand button lets you toggle through content such as Yoto Daily or Yoto Radio (internet connection required). It also works as a dial to let you control the brightness of the light.
The right-hand button’s functions are customisable. If you’d like to change what it does, you can do that in the Yoto app.
There’s also a power button on the right side of the device and a 3.5mm headphone jack, so you’ll never need to hear another reading of Frozen again.
Powering & Charging the Yoto Player
The Yoto Player charges via an included USB-C cable, and the battery will last up to 24 hours, making it ideal for long trips in the car. Or, for when you’re too sleep-deprived to remember to charge it.
Size, Weight, & Durability
The Yoto Player 3rd Gen sizes up at 11cm x 11mm x 10.2cm; that’s roughly two Rubik’s Cubes on top of one another. It weighs 600g, which is equivalent to a small bag of coffee beans.
As much as The Yoto Player is light and portable, they also do the Yoto Mini if travel space is at a premium. This tiny device is a mere 7cm x 7cm x 4cm. A veritable gerbil of a thing. Though not furry (that would be interesting).
I’ve no in-the-trenches evidence (yet) of whether the Yoto Player can withstand a pounding from a toddler. It certainly looks and feels durable enough, within reason, as do the cards. There’s an adventure jacket available, too, though, if you’d like to add some extra protection.
Can You Play Spotify, Audible, or Podcasts Apps on Yoto Player?
You can play anything on the Yoto Player because it doubles up as a Bluetooth speaker. However, you can’t access apps like Spotify or Audible from within the player, so you won’t need to worry about your kid accidentally stumbling upon The Joe Rogan Experience.
If there’s a particular Spotify podcast or Audible audiobook you’d like to play for them, you’d either access it via your phone paired up with Yoto’s Bluetooth connection. Or, if you can download it anywhere, pop it on a card for them so the phone isn’t needed at all.
Creating Your Own Audio
There’s a “Make Your Own” card in the box, and you can buy more from Amazon or Yoto, too. Each card lets you add up to 100 tracks or 500MB of audio. The file format is MP3 or AAC.
You just need to save any audio you’d like to add to your card onto the phone you’re running the Yoto app on. Then, you use the app to create a “virtual card” (playlist) and link it to the card. It’s simple!
What Else Can the Yoto Player Do?
The Yoto Player can also function as a digital alarm clock, nightlight, and room temperature thermometer. You can play white noise or ambient sounds to ease your wee one to sleep, and there’s an “OK to Wake” option, too. This is for kids who think it’s acceptable to get up at 4 a.m. (all of them), and it works by displaying a little sun at a time of your choosing. It’s great to have some backup during the pleading and negotiation that takes place in those ungodly hours.
The average price of the Yoto Player 3rd Gen is £100/$120, whilst the Yoto Mini comes in at around £60/$70.
As I’m writing this pre-Christmas, I can only take an educated guess that my daughter will love it. Although toddlers can spring surprises, I’m almost certain that she will, especially once the sounds of the Gruffalo, Peter Rabbit, and Paw Patrol start filling her room.
Not only is this a simple, portable, screen-free way to enjoy audio content, but it’s also an opportunity for kids to start creating, too. My wee girl has already taken an interest in screaming into my SM58, and if she’s able to record and play her own “podcasts”, then that’ll really set her imagination into overdrive. She’s bound to be better at it than me, too, though that’s a low barrier to set.
So I’m off now to download some podcasts for kids and narrate my own version of Ulysses by James Joyce onto one of the cards. Then I better get this thing wrapped and sent up to the North Pole…