Evolution of Children’s Television

We have all heard time and time again that children should not watch an excessive amount of television. We have been told that television can lead to obesity, laziness and even social deficiencies among our youth. The leader of our nation, President Barack Obama even utilized this notion on his campaign trail. With all of the negativity circulating around the effects of television on children, extensive amounts of research have been conducted to prove otherwise.

In “Tele(re)vision”, Jenny Price takes a deeper look into the evolution of children shows from, Sesame Street and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood in the 1960s to Blue’s Clues and Dora the Explorer of the late 1990s. Price concludes that television has presented itself in a more exciting and engaging method to children, as opposed to shows in the 60s that caused children solely to sit and stare. Parent’s were the target audience rather than the children, but studies conclude that this logic has changed. Blue’s Clues was one of the first children’s shows to perfect this idea of engagement and education among the youth. Blue’s Clues simplified television by minimizing transitions and edits, something that disconnected viewers from understanding real time and locations in the past. The show also utilized a real human to perpetuate thought provoking questions throughout the shows few segments which made the adventures of the characters more relatable. Author Malcolm Gladwell even described the show as one of the most irresistible and involving shows ever aired, stating that the creators, “borrowed parts of Sesame Street that did work.” Researchers have determined that it is not about novelty and change to grasp the attention of a pre schooler but rather creating more of a storyline and predictability by reducing the number of characters and sets in order to connect the viewer to more of the show’s concepts.

Children’s television not only captivates the viewer’s mind in that moment, it causes a spark of interest in their hearts to seek out adventures and explorations in the world around them.

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