3 Clues to Use When Choosing Educational Children’s Media by Angela Santomero
~:: by Angela Santomero of Angela’s Clues ::~
I’ve made it my mission to create “hit” shows for children that are truly high quality and educational. In all of my shows, I’ve researched and created them with a vision and a curriculum to teach…kindergarten readiness skills for Blue’s Clues, reading skills for Super Why and socio emotional skills for the new Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. Now, I’m happy that it’s important to parents that they know how to navigate the slew of content that’s out there and what it is that they should look for.
The truth is that just because a show or an app says it is “educational” doesn’t mean that it is. To me, it’s just like how the beautiful, healthy little avocado often gets overlooked because it sits on the grocery shelves with no packaging that screams out, “I AM NUTRITIOUS!”
So, how to spot the avocados of children’s media?
Here is the first of a series of posts for the incredible Bonbon Break that begins to discuss how we can dig deeper to look at kids content in a new way.
So, how do I know if a show is appropriate for my child?
Here are my 3 clues:
Clue#1: Viewing a show is like inviting someone into your family room
Using age guidelines is one way to determine if a show is appropriate for your child but not all children are the same cognitively and emotionally. A show that would be interesting to one child may keep another child up at night. To this day, my girls haven’t watched the wolves scene from Beauty and the Beast because of how frightening I thought it would be for them.
Look at the show as a whole and make sure that you are okay with the language, visuals, messages and the goals before you allow your kids to watch or play. Are the characters the type of kids you want your children to hang out with? After all, you just let them into your house!
Simply “because all of the other kids are watching it” should hold little, if any, weight. Discuss what “appropriate” means to your family and set rules/limits together so that (at this stage of the game) your kids can grow up at the pace in which you feel is appropriate for them.
Clue #2: Treat the characters like your child’s new bffs
Maybe its because I work in television, but the characters are very real to me! In truth, our kids model what they see and hear. So, are these characters truly funny or sassy? Are they witty or rude? Are they good role models? Is being “smart” cool to them? Would I want to have dinner with them? I remember when Fonzie took out a library card…it made all of us want to run to the library and as a result, the number of new library card applications has never been so high across the nation. Now, that’s cool. Fonzie was in my head when creating Super Why where I truly wanted to celebrate how cool reading really is…
Clue #3: Feed their brain. No matter what the venue.
Yes, we all like to be entertained, but if your child is going to dedicate half an hour or more viewing a program, let’s get something beneficial from it. It should be able to entertain AND educate in a smart fashion. And in terms of humor, what kind of humor is it? Truly silly and harmless? Or hurtful, finger pointing silly? I love to hear my girls laugh, but never at someone else’s expense.
<:: See more of Angela’s Articles on Bonbon Break ::>
ABOUT ANGELA: Angela has been changing the way children watch TV for over 15 years. She is a Founding Partner & Chief Creative Officer of Out of the Blue Enterprises LLC, overseeing all creative development with the vision to bring educational entertainment to a whole new level.
Angela Santomero is the Lead Creator, Executive Producer and Head Writer for Nick Jr.’s landmark preschool show Blue’s Clues. Malcolm Gladwell referred to it as “One of the stickiest TV shows EVER made” in his book, The Tipping Point. Her ability to integrate education, entertainment & active participation helped make Blue’s Clues a breakthrough program. Currently, Angela is the Creator, Executive Producer & Head Writer of the Emmy-nominated and #1 ranked preschool show, Super Why!, which helps build literacy skills through fractured fairytales & interactive games. She recently unveiled her latest, (the Mister Rogers’ spin off) Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood this week. She presently hosts PBS’ The Parent Show at PBSparents.org.
Angela is a Peabody Award Winner for Outstanding Children’s Programming, a Gold & Silver Parents Choice Awards recipient & has been nominated for over 35 Emmy Awards. Her blog, AngelasClues.com, approaches Parenting from her vantage point as a successful childrens’ media creator, to assist parents with the most important job of all!