Everyone is familiar with the tip-toe bedtime routine that often portrays parents as Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible, exhausting every angle to avoid detection of the supposed sleeping baby. A collective holding of breath occurs for everyone who has experienced the emotional turmoil that results from a child waking without proper rest.
Restful sleep often acts as a healthy baseline, allowing children to positively awaken and explore social and emotional learning (SEL) skills both at home and in the classroom.
According to the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), “SEL is the process through which all young people and adults acquire and apply the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to develop healthy identities, manage emotions and achieve personal and collective goals.” The learning begins early in life as children shape their place in the world and examine their relationship to the emotions and stressors they face.
Life happens, and school ‘happens,’ and the need for sustainable and trustworthy SEL platforms to help children becomes part of the equation. Born from a dedicated and substantial following in the U.K., Moshi has evolved to address the youngest and most fragile learners in activities and routines that create a positive emotional impact.
Moshi Kids is an app designed to provide a safe space for parents, children, and educators to explore challenging moments through the magic of storytelling and character interaction. With developed audio and visual methods, Moshi provides a wide range of interactions to allow children the space to deal with stressful moments, handle anxiety and even calmly enter the zone of sleep. The app’s characters face real-life issues like inclusion, empathy, loss, and frustration, and the content helps children practice the emotional elements in a safe, fun environment.
Christianne Amodio joined Moshi (previously named Moshi: Sleep and Mindfulness) two years ago and quickly rose in the ranks from chief product officer to CEO in November 2021. With a vast background in the gaming space, including the highly regarded woman-centered platform Design Home, Amodio proved that a highly successful alternative product for women ($250 million in revenue at its height) could compete in the male-centered gaming world.
Amodio is bringing that vision of an alternative, collaborative-based, personal growth gaming mindset to Moshi and the world of children. She is also a mother of two young children, furthering her motivation and mission to provide meaningful learning and emotional well-being to all young people.
Rod Berger: Please help readers better understand Moshi’s role in the market.
Christianne Amodio: Moshi Kids is a subscription app that helps parents and children improve their social and emotional well-being. It’s an entertaining and engaging world built just for kids two through eight years old. We think a lot about being a combination of healthy screen time and giving kids the best emotional start in life.
We have this incredible web-based character in the Internet Protocol (IP) world that started 10 to 15 years ago called Moshi Monsters. Back then, it was the number one PC game for kids in the U.K., where one in three kids owned a Moshi monster. There were 80 million registered users in toys, publishing, and entertainment, with almost $1 billion of retail products sold.
Over the years, that business took a lot of twists and turns, but the IP was so incredible that it’s never been forgotten. Ultimately, we decided to use it to help kids get to know themselves better, manage their emotions, and deal with the tough stuff in life.
Sleep Leads to Emotional Well-Being
Berger: Let’s dive deeper into the decision to support healthy sleep habits.
Amodio: We first focused on sleep. To be a healthy kid, a child needs sleep. If you go into the Moshi app today, there’s a combination of incredible sleep stories, meditations, and SEL-based content to reach kids and help them deal with their fears and anxieties. We are there for parents and kids at home, on the go, and in the classroom. We’re currently in 6000 classrooms used individually by educators.
We’re medically proven through a fantastic medical study out of NYU, proving Moshi helps kids fall asleep 28 minutes faster, stay asleep 22 minutes longer, and cut night wake-ups by 50%.
The most exciting part of our business right now is that we’re launching something more interactive. While sleep was the first problem we tried to solve, we’re now going in a bigger direction, offering healthy screen time to the next generation through audio-based storytelling and interactive entertainment, all grounded in the Moshi world.
We want to support kids through every challenge—daily routines, sleep, transitions, social issues, and big feelings in a fun, engaging, and parent-trusted environment.
Berger: What is it like as a mother to be building a brand that matches your current stage of life?
Amodio: As a Mom, it’s helping them [children] manage their emotions and calm fears and anxiety to feel safe. Any parent knows that a child looks at the world through the framework of a routines. So we help throughout the day, and parents foster that experience to provide a sense of calm.
I deal with it daily as a mom in conversations with my little girl about how to make things a little bit easier, why she’s feeling frustrated or sad, or what’s keeping her up at night.
It’s about keeping them socially and emotionally healthy, which translates directly to physical health. It’s made me, as a CEO, very bullish about creating a positive digital solution in a brand that parents can trust. I’m looking daily for digital tools that I can trust; I guess it’s part of being a Millennial.
We are out to create a brand that will be known as the healthy content company. I want every single parent out there to identify Moshi as the go-to for their kids.
Berger: It can be difficult to understand how digital experiences are meant to be experienced. Talk about your approach to interactivity and the roots of your thinking.
Amodio: Activities a child can focus on with patience, confidence, and resilience are built into the app. There are minigames, puzzles, and coloring, but nothing drastically different than Highlights magazine, which I grew up with as a kid.
If you look at what parents are searching for in the digital space right now, you see crazy numbers around digital coloring for toddlers and minigames for little kids. This is what people look for in the app store.
Moshi has incredible characters, all with backstories. Children examine real-life stuff like inclusion, empathy, loss, and frustration. Our SEL content, our meditations, can help children practice.
We repeatedly heard from both parents and teachers that the audio is great, but you’re hiding all of these incredible characters under audio-only. They wanted more, a safe place for their children during the day, where if they need to calm down, they can do something digitally.
Effective Screen Time
Berger: How are you expanding your content offerings currently and into the future?
Amodio: There are 250 stories grounded in the Moshi world featuring many characters. Our top tracks have over 50 million listens, with 2.5 billion in total. The content is truly loved.
For every single story, we’re launching one to two coloring pages digitally and five to seven minigames based on the stories. So we’re not just putting games into the world; we’re allowing a child to dive even more deeply into the content they already love.
We have one story based on our mermaid character, Cali, called Cali’s Rock Pool of Inclusivity. It’s very sweet. It uses a rock pool as a metaphor to discuss being inclusive with new acquaintances and celebrating differences. The characters drift in and out of the waves into the little rock pool. It talks about being welcoming, not judging on differences using shellfish, mermaids, and bumble fish, and letting children interact in a fun, safe environment.
Berger: The counter to the digital space for kids is that many experiences are not aligned to the age groups utilizing their respective technologies. Given your background in gaming, is this an accurate account of the industry and how is Moshi aiming to change the narrative?
Amodio: I believe that what we’re building is the next big digital world for kids. Millennials will soon be the majority of parents and are already comfortable in the digital space. Kids are playing video games and mobile games more and more.
While there are some awesome platforms out there, they’re not for my three-and-a-half-year-old and probably shouldn’t be for my five-year-old. It takes someone building for the age group. Until that is done, younger kids will play on platforms that are great for 10 to 12-year-olds but, in my opinion, not so safe for their specific age group.
I come from the mobile gaming space and I have made games for alternative audiences for years. I know a lot about who’s building this stuff. In general, it’s not women and not necessarily people spending tons of time with kids. Video games are often made by men, for men. Only in the last couple of years did a couple of people start building things for a different audience.
SEL has secured a seat at the education table, finding relative consistency and application throughout the school day across the country. The research and content communities have successfully nudged their way into the collective consciousness of schools, teachers, parents, and students.
Christianne Amodio and Moshi believe that health and well-being are essential to the foundational growth of younger children. With expanded age-appropriate content as the focus, they are betting that parents and educators feel the same.
So each night, when our youngest students close their eyes to the sleep stories of Moshi, moms and dads across the land can calmly exit stage left without the pressures of failing the nightly mission that has tripped up so many through the years.
Moshi appears to be just scratching the surface as a healthy content company, flush with creative solutions in a world desperate to slow down.
Interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.