Looking for something to stimulate your kids' minds? Sit the little people down and have them watch some inspiring TED Talks. A few good lessons are waiting for them – and you too, parents!
TED Talks have been around for a long time. These videos inspire and influence viewers by sharing knowledge, motivational pep talks, and a little humour. That’s why its slogan, “Ideas worth sharing”, is so apt. While most of the content is targeted towards adults, there are plenty of TED talks that kids can (and ought to) watch too. We’ve narrowed down the best TED Talks that little ones and teens can enjoy and be inspired by.
12 TED Talks to watch with kids
1. Grit: The Power Of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Lee Duckworth
We kick off this list of TED Talks to watch with kids with one that’s very relevant to everyone, not just the little people. Can talent, intelligence, and maybe a little bit of luck help a person succeed in life? (Spoiler alert: not really.) Angela Lee Duckworth, who also wrote the book that this talk is based on, shares her insights on grit and how passion and perseverance are the better indicators of success.
2. Why Some of Us Don’t Have One True Calling by Emilie Wapnick
What do you want to be when you grow up? The tiny humans will be able to respond to that innocuous query. But as kids get older, that question becomes harder to answer. Emilie Wapnick understands how it feels not knowing what to be when you grow up. The writer-artist gets anxious just thinking about it! This talk is the assurance that those clueless about their “true calling” will probably need.
3. Dare to Dream Big by Isabella Rose Taylor
Isabella Rose Taylor is a college freshman and fashion designer who dreams big. In this talk, Isabella highlights the importance of believing in yourself, standing your ground, and having a solid support system. After watching this, your children will be filled with hope and inspired to dream big.
4. Inside the Mind Of A Master Procrastinator by Tim Urban
Put your hands up if you’re a master procrastinator! Tim Urban knows the predicament you’re in, and like you, he’s not been able to shake off the habit of leaving things to the last minute. Get sucked into this journey of YouTube binges, Wikipedia rabbit holes, and figuring out how to limit procrastination. You’ll get a few laughs and some good reflection after watching this.
5. Diversity and Inclusion: Lessons in Friendship and Love by Maryam Elassar
This is Maryam’s first time giving a TED talk, and we’re bowled over by how confident she is! The third-grader shares a personal anecdote about kindness, which led to understanding the meanings of diversity and inclusion. Maryam also suggests small acts of kindness that can help friendship and love to thrive. Did we say that we’re bowled over by this? A super inspiring TED talks to watch with the kids.
6. The Danger of Silence by Clint Smith
If you only have time for one TED Talk, make it this one. In this short yet powerful piece, teacher and slam poet Clint Smith compels everyone to speak up against ignorance and injustice. “We spend so much time listening to the things people are saying that we rarely pay attention to the things they don’t.” A timely reminder, particularly with what’s going on in the world today.
7. The Danger Of A Single Story by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
This Nigerian writer requires no introduction. Many may be familiar with her other TED Talk, We Should All Be Feminists, sampled in one of Beyonce’s songs. However, we’re featuring her first TED appearance in this list, where she warns of the “single story” and how it perpetuates stereotypes. This video emphasises the consequences of knowing only one side of a story.
8. Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection by Reshma Saujani
Attention parents raising little women: this is one TED Talk that you should add to your watchlist. Reshma Saujani, the founder of Girls Who Code, wants girls to be brave and have strength – just like boys are taught – instead of perfection. According to her, there are two things that girls can do to counter their “bravery deficit”: take more risks, and learn how to code. Oh, and to be comfortable with imperfections. Because nothing is perfect in this world!
9. A Teen Just Trying to Figure It Out by Tavi Gevinson
Unlike today, there was still a lack of strong female leads in the media in 2012. As a young teenage girl back then, it was hard for Tavi to find good representation. That’s why she founded Rookie magazine (when she was just 15 years old!), which focuses on issues affecting teenage girls and is written by them. This is a good one for both girls and boys to watch and understand modern feminism.
10. What Adults Can Learn From Kids by Adora Svitak
We’re in awe of Adora Svitak, the child prodigy who delivered this widely revered TED Talk. She explains the broad perspective children see the world through and encourages adults to think like them sometimes. As per the title, this video is not just for kids – it’s for everyone. You can also use this talk as a tool to spur conversations on what adults can learn from children.
11. The Power Of Introverts by Susan Cain
Introverts, this TED Talk is a love letter to you. Susan Cain passionately argues that introverts have exceptional talents and abilities, and they should be encouraged and celebrated too. It is also a beautiful reminder that there’s nothing wrong with being introverted, and no one should change themselves to fit in.
12. Underwater Astonishments by David Gallo
Here’s a fun and fascinating video to watch if you need a break from all the heavy talky stuff. Did you know that more than 90 percent of the world’s oceans have yet to be explored? Geologist David Gallo takes viewers on a deep dive into the fintastic ocean world and the intriguing things living in there. The kiddos will discover more from this talk compared to in school!
Now gather the kids, get comfortable, start watching, and be inspired!