Television viewing for youngsters is a very controversial issue these days, and with reason. Many people believe that there should be a strict limit on the amount of TV children watch, if any at all. However, where there was a point in time when television wasn’t very beneficial to anyone, least of all, children; with time passed and technology on a roll, TV now has a lot to offer. There are many things catering to children’s needs these days that didn’t used to be available to us: prepared foods with extra vitamins, minerals and calcium, organic baby foods, electronic educational toys and now, even special educational television channels made specifically for babies and children.
While allowing children to watch television can be a good thing, the actual programming they watch should be strictly monitored. As far as times changing being for the good, it has also been for the bad. Certain things that used to be unheard of to show on television, play on the radio and even be discussed in one’s household are now common everyday things that many people don’t even happen to notice. Media is largely based on sex appeal, it’s everywhere. Even cartoons! We have children as young as six and seven running around trying to dress and act sexy, and the majority of this problem is due to the media. People are not necessarily raising this children to be this way (sure, some of them are), but they are not monitoring what they are watching on TV, listening to on the radio or the websites they are surfing on the Internet. As long as one chooses the proper programming for their children to watch on the TV, it can be highly beneficial.
For example, there now exists a channel that was made specifically for babies. They play things like Baby Mozart, classical music to stimulate a baby’s mind. They also have a color-coded flower logo to let parents determine the educational content of the current program. Yellow flower is for creative thinking, blue flower for math, green flower for sensory, red flower for language, orange flower for social skills, pink flower for creative play and the multicolored flower is for soothing lullabies. This channel made sound corny to some, but it is practically a must-have if you can afford to pay the extra fees for it and you have a baby or toddler. I know of a child who has barely turned four and he started reading somewhere into his third year; part of the credit goes to this channel, and the other part goes to the fact that he works on reading the back of his cereal box every morning.
There are many other educational programs that may or may not be designated to children, but are good for them to watch. Animal Planet is a regular channel for adults, but there are many programs on there that would be great for a child to watch; he may be more interested in watching those kinds of things if his parents sit down and watch with him. I absolutely love PBS Kids. Everything they show is educational. There are things such as Sesame Street, Sid the Science Kid, Super Why and Martha Speaks.
Martha Speaks is an animated program about a dog who ate alphabet soup that got into her brain, and she began to talk. The educational factor of this show is that it teaches kids bigger words that most younger ones aren’t familiar with. They spend the duration of the program going through the storyline and fitting several words per program throughout it. At the end of the show, they review all of the words that they learned and define them once again.
Sid the Science Kid is a great program about a little boy who goes to his daycare/preschool every day and learns different things about math and science. There was a recent episode that taught the children how to estimate how many of various different items fit in a jar. They also learn about bugs, animals and other different facets of science.
Super Why is a “play on words” so to speak. This program is more about teaching children how to spell smaller words. Most of the objects on the show are made out of letters that spell out what they are. It’s an incredibly creative and interesting show; even adults will get a kick out of it.
Probably everyone in the world knows what Sesame Street is. Most of us even watched it when we were kids. For those who don’t know, Sesame Street is based on a street that a bunch of monsters and animals live on. We’ve got Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster, Elmo and many others. Sesame Street teaches children a different letter and number every day. They teach children many different words that start with this “letter of the day”.
Nick Jr. is also a very great source of educational programming. With shows like Dora the Explorer, Go Diego Go and Ni Hao Kai Lan, children have a myriad of learning sources at their fingertips. Watching Nick Jr. offers children many different facets of education: Different languages, such as Chinese and Spanish, loving, sharing, science, reading and math.
Dora the Explorer mixes teaching mostly Spanish and mathematics in one television program. They will often say a word in English, translate it into Spanish and ask the children to repeat it. They will usually say the word and have the child repeat it several times which is a great way to help it stick in their little minds. Dora the Explorer also implements a lot of counting during their episodes. They count in both languages as well. I’ve played Dora the Explorer for both of my children since they were babies, and they were both counting in Spanish when they were barely a year old.
Ni Hao Kai Lan is similar to Dora the Explorer, except instead of the Spanish language they teach Chinese. They also teach a significant amount about sharing, voicing your problems in an appropriate manner and helping people when they are upset and you don’t know what’s wrong. This show is a great source for helping children to learn the above-mentioned qualities.
Go, Diego Go! is another educational program based on different kinds of animals. They also throw in a bit of Spanish here and there. Diego teaches children about the many types of animals we have in this world; what they eat, what they do, where they live, what they look like, etc.
There are also many other television channels on local and network television that offer many forms of education to our children. I believe that many adults don’t realize this fact and they don’t really give television an opportunity to disprove their outdated opinions. With time and technology we have come a very long way, people should give television a new opportunity to show and teach children many things that we may not be able to. I find I learn new things every day watching educational television with my children. I think it’s important that very young children get the opportunity to watch these kinds of things on TV before they start attending school; so that by the time they do go to school they can go with a good level of education and knowledge already under their belts!