Parents are often mistaken with the idea of putting a child in front of a TV and assuming that the kid will absorb whatever language or content they listen to and watch. Well, yes, it is somewhat true that nothing can occupy a child quite like television. However, Alice Park, a journalist from TIME Magazine stated that the more time children spend sitting in front of the screen, the more their social, cognitive and language may suffer (2009). Television also delays learning by reducing the youngsters’ ability to communicate and socialize with others. However, Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a pediatrician from the University of Washington, looked at one major weakness of the study but he can’t say for sure whether kid-targeted programming could really lead the children to vocalize, talk and interact with their parents more. That is if the parents put on the TV and really engage with the child verbally. There may be several drawbacks on the idea of exposing the preschoolers to the television, but never to assume that there are no advantages of it if the content showed to the youngsters and preschoolers are properly tailored for the specific learning objectives.
In an article taken from IFAS Extension, Making Good Decisions: Television, Learning, and the Cognitive Development of Young Children (2011), it has evidently stated that the content for pre-schoolers has been around for decades and one of these contents would be the Sesame Street English. The content was specifically designed for pre-schoolers and are marketed as educational materials to optimize child development.
In addition, television and videos are quite common in the lives of children and can influence their development. Hence, the exposure of a significant amount of adult television might be inappropriate for the children especially when they are exposed to it without any supervision or verbal interactions – explaining to them about what’s going on or pausing and responding to the child rather than being too occupied with the show. Meaning to say that, early brain development of children starts when they have positive interactions with their environment in which the development of neural pathways enable positive development (Going to School by Craig T. and Sharon L. Ramey). So, it is important for the parents and teachers to know the kind of television or content to be shown to the children.
Children whose parents allow them to watch more educational tv program would usually excel in school, have higher grades, speak wider vocabularies, and show more creativity due to the massive information and activities that they see on TV as compared to those who watch more violent or purely entertainment content of television. In an article, A Teacher in the Living Room? by Garrison and Christakis, the Sesame Street program, probably the most studied television programs of all time, has shown to have a variety of benefits for preschool children, including increases in vocabulary, ability to count, and general school readiness. So, this Sesame Street English program would definitely help our children to develop their learning styles – to not only be able to speak, read and write but also to show their creativity and ability to initiate self-learning. This is an absolute difference that our Malaysian children need.
“With respect to development, what children watch is at least as important as, and probably more important than, how much they watch.” ~ The Future of Children, 2008.
Master Trainer, HQ
- Craig T. Ramey and and Sharon L. (1999). Going to School : How to Help Your Child Succeed. Goddard Press, Incorporated.
- Garrison, M., Christakis, D. (2005). A teacher in the living room? Educational media for babies, toddlers and preschoolers. Kaiser Family Foundation.
- Park, A. (2009). Study: TV May Inhibit Babies' Language Development. TIME, 1-2.
- Toelle, D. C. (2011, December). Making Good Decisions: Television, Learning and the Cognitive Development of Young Children. University of Florida IFAS Extension, 1-3.