Parents try to provide the best for their children, so when they’re not able or too busy, is it appropriate to resort to using a form of educational program? Sesame Street has been promoting the idea of educational child-friendly media since 1969. From their catchy songs to their upbeat cast, children all across the country have had their eyes glued to Elmo’s eccentric movements. But is this truly the best form of educating young children today?
Children and media viewership has always been called into question, but in 2011, the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) was directly linked to an overall reduction in both the amount and quality of child-parent interaction as well as the children’s creative play. This was regardless if the television was on in the background of the foreground (Taylor 2015). This laid the ground for a negative stigma associated with parents who use educational television as a form of alternative parenting. This also goes against Piaget’s Theory of Knowledge (Bornstein, Arterberry, & Lamb p. 168), where children learn from actions rather than passive observations that television provides. This is where parents are most important in their child’s development if they choose to provide them with educational television. The parent must be willing to interact with their child and ask questions about their program, such as the new number that The Count talked about.
There are other techniques that the producers could do alongside the parent in order to enhance the child’s experience with their program. One method is that children learn most effectively by being repeatedly exposed to information (Taylor 2015). This would allow a child to solidify the knowledge they learned about what is the best sweets vegetable from the Cookie Veggie Monster. Producers could also give a hand in this by providing repetition within a program, such as repeating new phrases or sequences. This slows down the learning considerably for children to really absorb the information in front of them even if their parents aren’t available to interact with the information that they just learned.
Another aspect of Piaget’s Theory of Knowledge (Bornstein, Arterberry, & Lamb. P 177) is learning through familiar faces. This is evident when infants mimic the faces of their caretaker. If character(s) within Sesame Street seem more familiar to the children, they could be more willing to mimic their favorite character. This in turn could provide you with a child who dresses up like a vampire and tells you random numbers throughout the day, but hey, they can count to one hundred.
I believe the purpose of sesame street is to provide a children a wide variety of information they can access in short, bite-sized portions. They seem to be doing a good job of it since they’ve been on air for over 35 seasons. The main issue with providing children with the alternative of educational based programs is they will usually not be as educational as they could be if the parent isn’t able to interact with the children and solidify their knowledge. This could be done is short segments such as watching the program here and there alongside them and discussing what they saw after the episode had finished or during commercial breaks. If this were the case then I believe that educational programs would be an acceptable alternative to constant parent-child interactions.
Hill, D.L., (2016). Why to avoid TV before age 2. Healthy Children.
Taylor, G., (2015). Why watching TV can actually be good for toddlers. The Washington Post.
Bornstein, M.H., Arterberry, M.E., & Lamb, M.E. (2014). Development in Infancy (5th Edition). Psychology Press
Sesame Street season 35 description