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10 Must-Listen Podcasts for Tweens and Teens

Fantastic screen-free series that are age-appropriate (and cool enough) for older kids

Published on: October 25, 2018

mother and teen daughter listening to a podcast

Move over, YouTube, there's a new game in town, and guess what? It's totally screen-free. That's right: Podcasts are growing in popularity with families -- and for good reason. They give you an engaging way to connect with kids, no screen required. But once kids have outgrown gentle story-time podcasts, it's not easy to sift through all the mature, adult-oriented series to find a good one that's appropriate for tweens and teens.

So we did the work for you. While some of our finds are made just for kids, many are suitable for wider audiences (and can turn otherwise silent car rides into entertaining audio experiences). Where else can they get advice from "The Fault in Our Stars" author John Green and his YouTuber brother Hank? Or test their knowledge on NPR's Wait Wait ... Don't Tell Me! or game show-inspired series like Pants on Fire? Plus, in addition to being screen-free, podcasts give tweens and teens a way of listening — and learning — that they can't get on other platforms.

If you're a podcast newbie, check out 20 Podcasts for Kids, which offers tips for how to listen, plus more recommendations for all ages. Otherwise, open up your favorite audio app and dive into these age-appropriate picks for tweens and teens. 

Originally published by Common Sense Media

Dear Hank and John

Real brothers and vloggers John Green (a young adult novelist) and Hank Green (a YouTuber) co-host a lighthearted advice podcast where they answer questions on everything from random thoughts to deep, emotional topics. The advice they give out is mostly good and always entertaining. Their easy camaraderie and self-deprecating charm make you feel like you're in on their inside jokes (of which there are many). 

Best for: Teens

Harry Potter and the Sacred Text

What if the Harry Potter series was considered a holy book? While this can feel true to many Potter fans, this thoughtful, spiritual podcast actually puts it into practice. Each episode takes a chapter of a Harry Potter book and looks at it through the lens of a universal theme like love, hope, or destiny. You don't need to be religious to enjoy this delightful series, but it's not always spoiler-free, so make sure you've read the books ahead of time.

Best for: Tweens and teens

Pants on Fire

Pants on Fire is a silly game show where a tween gets to interview two grown-ups, one who's an expert on a topic and one's who's lying. Hosts Deborah and L.I.S.A. (a sound effects "robot") guide the kid contestant through the interviews with some goofy jokes and question suggestions, but it's the kids that make this show worth checking out.

Best for: Younger tweens

Radiolab

This Peabody award-winning radio series/podcast delivers scientific ideas in a creative, innovative way. The episodes are a joy to listen to, with a great deal of emphasis put on sound design in addition to the hosts' clever banter. Some episodes feature strong language, but overall this is a great choice for mature listeners.

Best for: Tweens and teens

Science Friday

Regularly one of the most popular science podcasts out there, "SciFri" (as it's known to its fans) has been informing and entertaining listeners for more than 20 years. For curious science lovers who want to learn about the latest discoveries, Ira Flatow's weekly discussions with experts and listeners are a must-listen.

Best for: Tweens and teens

Six Minutes

Six Minutes is another enthralling, suspenseful audio drama from the creators of the award-winning podcast The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel. Featuring a voice cast of real kids, each six-minute episode continues the story of an 11-year-old girl named Holiday who finds herself in the middle of a mystery adventure with no memory of where she came from. New updates are released twice a week, and you'll be counting down the minutes to see what happens next.

Best for: Tweens

Stuff You Missed in History Class

Little-known history comes alive three times a week in this fascinating, comprehensive podcast from the people at HowStuffWorks. You don't need to be a history buff to get hooked, but if you're not, you might become one after a few episodes. With a focus on weird events, overlooked stories, and underrepresented groups, this popular series is educational, too.

Best for: Tweens and teens

Wait Wait … Don't Tell Me!

Brainy teens will love this NPR quiz show for its wacky blend of news and comedy. Longtime host Peter Sagal and a panel of comedians/journalists run through a series of recurring segments about the latest news, and listeners can call in to compete. There's even a weekly celebrity guest. Although it's appropriate for radio broadcast, occasionally the jokes get a bit off-color, so make sure teens are mature enough to handle it.

Best for: Teens

What's Good Games

What's Good Games is an informative, funny weekly podcast all about video games. The three hosts (who happen to be female) have great chemistry and demonstrate clear expertise on the biggest games on the market. The (very long) episodes cover news, listener questions, and personal experiences playing games. But keep in mind: While the podcast itself is OK for teens, some of the games they discuss are very mature.

Best for: Teens

#WhoWouldWin

Have you ever wanted to know who would win a fight: Luke Skywalker or Spider-Man? Finally, someone is taking this question and others like it seriously in a geeky podcast about beloved comic, sci-fi, and fantasy characters. And while the audio quality isn't a match for some of the more established podcasts on this list, the lively, well-researched, well-argued debates between the hosts more than make up for it.

Best for: Teens

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