Star Trek for kids

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Many parents focus on preparing their children for a digital future by working on their basic math skills, helping them use a computer, or even teaching them the basics of programming. These parents are fools! If there is one thing I have learned from working with loads of developers and Internet geeks, the fundamental driver of true, passionate and sustained engagement with technology is true, passionate and sustained engagement with science fiction.

So we got an early start on Star Wars movies (the original trilogy only —  I don’t want to warp their brains with poor aesthetics!), and after a year or so, even got Little Sweetie past referring to it as “Star Horse”. We introduced them to ReBoot, and ordered long-since-extinct Reboot action figures using the power of eBay. We watched Galaxy Quest, and were delighted when the kids petitioned us for a repeat viewing.

But let’s be honest: that level of sci-fi engagement will take them only as far as a little weekend hacking or the occasional smartphone app. If we want to raise the CTOs of tomorrow, there’s only one science fiction genre that can properly equip them for the job: Star Trek.

Much to our dismay, however, the kids have proven Trek-resistant. We’ve tried engrossing them with Dora the Explorer, and then quickly flipping to a TNG episode: the little stinkers beg to be returned to the lesson in counting in Spanish. Don’t they understand that they only need to know the words for 8, 16, 32 and 64?

This weekend I decided to get serious. Little Sweetie hit me up for some gumball machine money, and in return, I made her promise to try watching the latest Star Trek movie. But I’ll be honest: it was an empty threat. As much as I loved the sight of Chris Pine in lycra, the overall movie rates as a bejeesus-level scarer for  a 7- and 4-year-old.

So it’s back to the challenge of finding the right kid-friendly entry points into the Star Trek universe. Some of the suggestions I’ve seen:

Star Trek’s vision of the future has almost become a reality, because now we see automatic doors, cell phones, and microwaves every day. Maybe when they make a new Star Trek, they should give us a new vision of the future that we haven’t seen already.

  • If I want them to turn all bookish on me, I’ll be tempted to try out Starfleet Academy: Worf’s First Adventure.
  • This list of top 10 TNG episodes reminds me of how tough it will be to get the kids trek-ified: only one episode, The Nth Degree, looks like it might be both interesting enough, unscary enough, and unconfusing enough for our kids.

Reviewing the complete list of TNG episodes on Wikipedia made me think of a few other possible candidates for starter treks:

  1. Pen Pals, because of the android-befriends-kid theme.
  2. Captain’s Holiday, because of the adventure pacing and lack of ties to the Star Trek backstory.
  3. Tin Man, because it’s crazy and telepathic and interesting in a way that could get them turned onto Trek.
  4. Clues, because the kids like a mystery.
  5. The Outcast, because it’s a good intro to Star Trek-as-political-propaganda…though it could make the kids sad.
  6. The Inner Light, because it’s one of my favorites, as long as it doesn’t make the kids worry about the world ending.
  7. Lessons, because Little Sweetie is a hopeless romantic.

You’ll notice that I’ve erred on the side of boredom (better for the episode to be too talky than too scary), which means no Borg. I’ve also steered clear of time travel, because at least in the first instance, it’s a lot for the kids to get their minds around. But I’d love to hear from other parents and Trek-lovers:

What are the best Start Trek episodes for young (under-10) kids?

3 Comments on this site

  1. Alex Baldwin

    i am 13 and i have a 8 year old brother and me and him both watch star trek. his fags are ds9 because of the story arcs. he watches 1 episode then ends up watching 5 episodes. could be a bit scary and creepy with the changelings shapshifting and stuff but its better than voyager. voyager is really good but its really confusing. tng is good because it has data and word but for my lil bro it can be a pit to political for him. tos is good but it could be a bit adultish with kirk, but it shows the true meaning of friendship (kirk spoke and mccoy). make them watch the star trek trilogy (wrath of khan, search for spoke and the voyage home) they are 3 really good movies in wok its sad, in sfs its funny, sad, and epic, un tvh its really funny

  2. Click Here

    I Feel star treks have some real great followers.

  3. Karategator123

    The best episode for kids under ten is rom star trek voyager the episode “once upon a time”

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