Television Programming for Children: Educational vs. Prosocial

When parents are choosing television shows for their young children (ages 2-5), most of them want something that is educational, and is going to teach them numbers, letters, other languages, etc., some examples of educational shows are Dora the Explorer, Team Umizoomi, and Sesame Street, which are on Nickelodeon and PBS. Research has shown that children who watched educational programs when they were younger earned better grades, read more, and showed less aggression.  However, Disney Junior, which is a 24 hour cable channel created by The Walt Disney Company that caters to children ages 2-5 and sometimes even 6-8. Disney wants to focus more on the story-telling of a television show, rather than just the educational aspect of it. The Disney Company is arguing that educational television is sometimes too much work and not enough play, and that more parents now just want their children to be happy and socially well-adjusted.

The shows on Disney Junior tell stories that focus mainly on teaching children social skills with some educational material mixed in. Some examples of television shows on Disney Junior are Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Doc McStuffins, Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and Gaspard and Lisa. These shows teach children how to share and problem solve, as well as teaching them positive health skills. Prosocial television shows, which are programs intended to teach social lessons, have been shown to have a strong positive influence over their viewer. In some of these programs though, the messages can get lost because the program may be confusing for the child by showing both bad and good behaviors.

While it is a fact that too much television is bad for you, especially for children. Researchers have shown that educational and prosocial television programs are beneficial for young children in moderation and can help improve their learning and social skills. I know that when I watch Mickey Mouse Clubhouse with my sixteen month old nephews they dance around and sing and it has even taught them new words; so whether it’s educational or prosocial most of these programs are just entertaining for kids and they don’t even realize they’re learning.

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