Raising My Twins

It's what's on my mind.

More on Television and Toddlers

on April 10, 2012

Girls watching Elmo.

A couple weeks ago, a friend of mine told me about a fascinating “Ted Talk” that she found on one of my favorite blogs of all time, Aha! Parenting. She was happy to hear that slow-paced, educational television, such as Mr. Rogers, doesn’t seem to have the adverse effects on children’s health as other, “entertainment” television aimed at children. This is good news for those who have felt that small doses of Sesame Street, for instance, while maybe not exactly beneficial, are not harmful either. In other words, it’s good news for me.

This research also illustrates exactly why I am against my children seeing anything but Sesame Street, although I’d definitely allow Mr. Rogers if it was still on. I used to love that show too.

The summary is that frenetic TV, (think cartoons targeted to slightly older kids, like SpongeBob) causes attention problems, whereas “educational programs like Mr. Rogers posed no increased risk of attentional problems.” Here is a direct link to the 16-minute talk by Dr. Dimitri Christakis, Director of Seattle Children’s Research Institute’s Center for Child Health, Behavior and Development. I highly recommend it.

“Media is very much a part of our lives.  The real research agenda is to find out how to use it in healthy ways.” ~ Dr. Dimitri Christakis


4 responses to “More on Television and Toddlers

  1. I agree with you. Another slow paced program my 2 year old likes is Mustard Pancakes (also on PBS). He loves music and this show always has a song sung to an acoustic guitar as part of it. Often at the very end (after the program has finished but before the 1/2 hour is up) there is a 5 minute segment from a company called sosmart.com. This little cartoon is about as un-animated as you could possible imagine. One episode is all about vacuuming a rug, sweeping up some crumbs and then washing a plate. It is beyond slow paced, and my son is just fascinated!

    • Janet S says:

      Ooh, this is a good tip. I’ll definitely check it out. I don’t love every part of the new Sesame Street, so it would be nice to have an alternative to offer. I admit, after seeing the talk, I wished Mr. Rogers was still on. But I did hear that there are something like 26 full episodes on PBS.com, so that’s pretty cool. Thanks for telling me about Mustard Pancakes!

  2. cynthia says:

    I heard (I think it was Science Friday on NPR) that the “pacing” of Mr Rogers and Sesame Street is that of a normal conversation. They talk, then they leave room for you, the viewer, to respond — even if it is in your mind. It promotes normal thought and a 2-way conversation vs Sponge Bob (that was the specific example, it’s more frenetic than most) that is 1-way bombardment, no ‘space’ for interaction. That made sense to me.

    And I ADORE Mr Rogers. I wanted Wilcca to watch him so I bought a season of shows on iTunes. They first time he watched an episode he turned to me, beaming, and said, “I like how he sings to me.” So I have about 8 episodes and Wilcca just watches those over and over. One of them is my all time favorite — the visit to the crayon factory.

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