Although the shift from cable television to TV streaming sites has been, on the whole, a very positive thing, there is one demographic that has been somewhat left behind. I’m talking, of course, about our children! Sure, many of the best streaming sites have made an effort to provide a children’s section or at least some form of kids’ content, but these categories on the top streamers pale in comparison to both the quantity and quality of entertainment for adults. No matter which streaming services you have a subscription to, there is a good chance that your kids have exhausted the available children’s programming available by now – plus, we all know how picky kids can be!
Are there some premium cartoon streaming sites that are worth their subscription fees? Surely … however, convenience still remains an issue with many of them. Take Disney Plus, for instance. Disney Plus is one of the best streaming sites in the world, but they are a little thin, believe it or not, when it comes to the number of children’s programming offered. Yes, Disney Plus does offer all of its iconic movies, but when it comes to streaming cartoons, I’m afraid Disney Plus just doesn’t cut it. Plus, not everybody has the wiggle room in their monthly entertainment budgets to take on yet another premium streaming subscription right now.
Disney has another streaming service, too, Disney Now. This one is made just for kids, and it combines all of its children’s programming from its 3 famed channels – Disney Channel, Disney XD, and Disney Junior – to offer what might just be the best cartoon streaming site for all ages. The only problem here is that you can only access all of Disney Now’s content if you already have a traditional cable plan. You can stream some cartoons here for free, but the majority of Disney Now’s content is blocked, reserved for cable customers … not to mention the fact that, gradually, Disney is moving the bulk of its Disney Now content over to Disney Plus to – you guessed it – persuade people to become Disney Plus members.
So, what are your options when it comes to finding the best cartoon streaming site that isn’t going to cost you any more money each month? Well, it may come as a surprise, but there are actually several really good free cartoon streaming sites out there for the little ones. Some of them offer a premium experience, even, with no price tag whatsoever. If you live in the Netherlands, you and your family automatically have access to one of the best free cartoon streaming sites in the world. I am talking, of course, about Zappelin.
Zappelin is the free cartoon streaming site brought to you by the popular children’s network, NPO Zappelin. This network of cartoon and children’s entertainment channels has long been known for providing high-quality, substantive, often educational kids’ content, and their free cartoon streaming site is no different. With dozens of regularly updated cartoon and live-action series to choose from and a fun and interactive site design, your kids will be sure to love Zappelin, perhaps the best free cartoon streaming site in the Netherlands.
Naturally, though, as a parent, you will want to vet every site first before letting your kids use it. I totally get it … I am the same way with my young ones. Any use of the internet must be monitored, I must approve every site before I allow my kids to visit. And we all have different expectations and definitions of what makes for an acceptable streaming service for our kids, right? So, before we jump to any conclusions about this one, let’s take a closer look at Zappelin and see if it is, in fact, the best free cartoon streaming site for you.
As I already mentioned, Zappelin.nl comes from a company that has already built 20+ years of trust when it comes to producing high-quality kids’ content, cartoons, and series. In fact, if you are raising children in the Netherlands, I would be surprised if this is the first time that you are hearing about Zappelin or NPO. Perhaps, though, you remember it best by its original stylization of its name, [email protected] This is the name that was used when the program block first launched in September of 2000.
Before the creation of [email protected], its programs were split across 3 public access channels, Nederland 1, Nederland 2, and Nederland 3. In September of 2005, though, [email protected] became a children’s channel of its own, geared primarily towards kids aged 2 to 6 years old. It wasn’t until 2012 that the ampersand was dropped from the name, and the much more simply titled Zappelin came into existence.
In March of 2013, yet another rebranding occurred. Viewers likely weren’t affected by this one too much, all that happened was that Zapp and Zappelin had NPO added to them, becoming NPO Zappelin, which is the official name of the channel and the streaming service today. The idea behind this, from what I have read, was to make the channels and its shows more readily recognizable. Alongside NPO Zapp, the channel airs NPO 3 during the day. If your kids just can’t get enough, though, there is always NPO Zappelin Xtra, which is a 24-hour children’s channel.
Zappelin.nl combines all Zappelin related content (including the 24-hour live stream) and places it on a singular convenient and easy to use streaming site.
I think that the design of Zappelin is incredible, especially for children. It is brightly covered, engaging, interactive, fun, and very user friendly. Not only is the site’s intuitive design a perk for you, the parent, to navigate in a rush or while juggling a million tasks at once (as parents so often do), but it is so easy to use, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a child navigating it themselves.
What I love about the design of Zappelin is that it is interactive in a way that reinforces learning and literacy. When you hover your cursor over an image, for example, the title of that show is read aloud. This helps with reading, speech, and memory. In my opinion, every cartoon streaming site or website made for children should be built with reinforcing education in mind as Zappelin is. This is just one of the many factors that make this one of the best free cartoon streaming sites ever made.
Other than that, the site is set up as an infinity scroll, meaning that there is a minimal amount of clicking around necessary – once again, making the site perfect for kids. If your child is allowed and able to browse the content here by himself, all he has to do is keep scrolling and loading more videos until he finds the one that catches his eye, click on it, and enjoy. I don’t know that I have ever seen a streaming site with a more simplistic design than this one.
Content and Features
Not only does Zappelin have tons of great content for your kids to enjoy. But it also has special parent features, too, for you to access. In the top right-hand corner of the site, you will notice a button labeled “parents.” Click on this and a site menu bar appears at the top of the page. Here, you will be given several options: Guide, Programs, DIY, Birthday, Actions, News, Podcasts, and Alarm Clock. These extra features are, in my opinion, why Zappelin deserves to be listed among the best free cartoon streaming sites.
Guide, I think, is pretty self-explanatory (a Zappelin TV guide). Programs allows you to, well, view a list of Zappelin programs. The DIY section, though, is where things get interesting. In addition to providing tons of free cartoons for your kids to enjoy, Zappelin goes the extra mile by letting you download and print coloring book pages, drawing exercises, games, and fun recipes to make together.
Every parent knows that few days of the year are more important than their kids’ birthdays. This is why Zappelin has prepared a special message for you to play from a favorite Zappelin show presenter. Whether you have a birthday boy or a birthday girl, Zappelin has a personalized birthday message just for them! As if this wasn’t enough to make Zappelin the best free cartoon streaming site of all time, you’ll also find interesting news stories, ideas for activities and crafts projects, and even podcasts for the little ones to enjoy, maybe even while mom or dad check in on their morning podcast as well.
Mobile and Desktop Experience
Zappelin does offer mobile apps for both Android and iOS devices, and they are every bit as well-designed and easy to use as the desktop site. However, upon reading the user reviews, it does appear as if the Zappelin mobile apps are a little buggy (no sound being a common complaint). Hopefully they fix this problem soon!