This research “Educational Benefits of Television on Children” seeks to determine the beneficial effects of educational television programs for infants, toddlers, and young children of pre-school age, and to understand the factors that positively contribute to these benefits…
However, despite this distinction, the American Pediatric Association has nevertheless discouraged television viewing by pre-school children for more than two hours a day, and has recommended no television at all for children below two years of age. This research seeks to determine the beneficial effects of educational television programs for infants, toddlers, and young children of pre-school age, and to understand the factors that positively contribute to these benefits. Introduction Television is the most influential of the popular media (Schneider & Fisch, 2001:29). Television has the power to engage people through its entertaining programming, and has proven a powerful tool to inform, influence, and educate. This had led Boyer (1991:140) to comment: “Television, next to parents, is the child’s most influential teacher.” The problem for many is that this works both ways: considerable data proves that televisions can exert both positive and negative influence on children. There has been tremendous research that has gone to proving that television is capable of programming children to consumerism, violence and sex. Many of the ill effects of TV viewing on children are unintentional offshoots of programs intended to entertain a wider segment of the viewing audience, targeting particularly adults. However, there is a narrower market segment which intentionally focuses on commercial broadcasting for the purpose of educating young children. The most successful of these programs is Sesame Street, begun more than 30 years ago by Joan Ganz Cooney, which had been adopted in many countries worldwide. Numerous research studies have shown that children of preschool age have significantly benefitted from exposure to Sesame Street, and these beneficial effects have endured over several years (Fish & Truglio, 2000, in Schneider & Fisch, 2001). Other successful shows produced by Children’s Television Workshop (CTW), the producers of Sesame Street, are 3-2-1 Contact, Square One TV, and Cro. Other producers have created Bill Nye, the Science Guy; Beakman’s World; and Magic School Bus (Schneider & Fisch, 2001:30). Reservations about the educational benefits for toddlers Most academic studies conducted on children targeted the 3-to-5-year-old age group, thus the educational effect of television on this age group is well documented. Very few studies have been made, however, on the below-3-year-old audience routinely exposed to educational television. Among TV shows dedicated to the 0-to-3-year-old age group are Sesame Street and Teletubbies, and the videos Baby Einstein and Baby Bach. The lack of conclusive data has spawned a debate about whether toddlers are even cognitively prepared to understand and learn from educational programs aired on television (or video recordings). According to Fisch (2004:45), the lack of readiness of toddlers to comprehend TV programs is supported by the recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) for television shows to be completely avoided for children below 2 years old. ...
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