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#1 of 5 Old 07-15-2008, 10:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We went tv-free about 4 months ago & are very happy with our decision. My son is 20 months and only rarely watches videos on youtube. We try to limit it but lately he keeps requesting certain ones, like an airplane song from old sesame street. Well my husband showed him a cookie monster one - singing "C is for cookie", and yesterday he saw a letter C on a building and said "C! Cookie!"

I am glad that he recognized it, but now I'm torn because I really wanted to limit these videos even more, but he obviously learned something from that one very quickly. We read plenty of books and he does know many of his letters already, but he was so enthusiastic when he told me that C was for COOKIE! lol

So I just wondered if anyone else had thoughts on this. Is there a downside to showing these videos on a limited basis (pre-screened of course)? I wanted to avoid the characters thing too. The older sesame street doesn't seem to have all the same flashy scenes as the new one. But at the same time... I don't want him to get in the habit of requesting these videos instead of other things I'm also not in any rush to teach him letters, counting, etc. I know he will learn them from other things just fine. But our friend's little boy (same age) seems to say a lot more, and count, which I know he picked up from all the TV he watches (it's on constantly at his house).

I guess I'm just trying to weigh any possible benefits to allowing these, against the drawbacks. What to do.. what to do...?

Amanda , mama to my two boys: N (10/06) and : A (7/09)
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#2 of 5 Old 07-15-2008, 12:41 PM
 
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Originally Posted by amandaleigh37 View Post
We went tv-free about 4 months ago & are very happy with our decision. My son is 20 months and only rarely watches videos on youtube. We try to limit it but lately he keeps requesting certain ones, like an airplane song from old sesame street. Well my husband showed him a cookie monster one - singing "C is for cookie", and yesterday he saw a letter C on a building and said "C! Cookie!"

I am glad that he recognized it, but now I'm torn because I really wanted to limit these videos even more, but he obviously learned something from that one very quickly. We read plenty of books and he does know many of his letters already, but he was so enthusiastic when he told me that C was for COOKIE! lol

So I just wondered if anyone else had thoughts on this. Is there a downside to showing these videos on a limited basis (pre-screened of course)? I wanted to avoid the characters thing too. The older sesame street doesn't seem to have all the same flashy scenes as the new one. But at the same time... I don't want him to get in the habit of requesting these videos instead of other things I'm also not in any rush to teach him letters, counting, etc. I know he will learn them from other things just fine. But our friend's little boy (same age) seems to say a lot more, and count, which I know he picked up from all the TV he watches (it's on constantly at his house).

I guess I'm just trying to weigh any possible benefits to allowing these, against the drawbacks. What to do.. what to do...?
I know what you mean - those education videos are seductive. However, I bolded the part above because it was a red flag for me - yeah, right now that your friend's son is watching sesame street and what he's parroting back is all good, but what happens when it's less savory programs and he starts imitating those as well? Branding, setting up the kids vs. adults dichotomy, etc. You take the good with the bad, or in this case, the very bad.

I guess I would rather check lots of books out from the library, check out kids cds from the library, make up our own songs from the books we get, etc. I just don't think that the TV is necessary for any of these things. My son doesn't watch any TV and he could sing the abc song and recognize 95% of letters before he was 2 - and count to 10 by like 20 months. It's a LOT easier to just let the videos do the work, but I don't think it's beneficial in the long run AND I think it sort of sets a bad precedent.

I also think that just because he recognized the c and cookie thing together, doesn't mean it had to do with the video nature of it - it might just be his age. I've noticed just over the past couple months that my guy is putting abstract concepts like that together a LOT more than before. So it could just be coincidental timing, too.

Chessa , mama to Silas T (6/06) , wife to Chad . Welcome August Emerson! 2/8/10
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#3 of 5 Old 07-15-2008, 01:28 PM
 
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I think this is one of the main reasons many parents end up letting their children watch tv - they are convinced it helps them learn because it is more "fun".

There are a couple of things to keep in mind. One, you never can compare your child with another child and assume that the difference in their learning is "because of tv". There are so many factors that go into what makes children start talking sooner. My DS has been talking in sentences since he was 18 months old and he's never watched a minute of television. Some kids also don't start talking as early, because they are focusing their energy on other types of development (observing others and listening, working with tools, athletic endeavors and other gross motor skills) and when they master those they often turn their energy quickly to talking and all of a sudden they're talking as much as kids who started when they were younger.

The other thing is the value of the learning. Things like counting and recognizing letters are not really a sign of higher intelligence necessarily. They're just parroting someting. If kids are watching tv they are engaged in totally passive learning. They are mimicking and remembering what they see, but not really using their imagination or being forced to think for themselves. it may seem harmless now, but as they grow they will continue this and be more and more susceptible to programming that is not as healthy and particularly to advertising and marketing. And this marketing and branding is not just in commercials, it is wedded to the programming itself. : Books, music and PLAY are what children need to learn, IMO!
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#4 of 5 Old 07-16-2008, 06:45 PM
 
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Sesame Street was originally intended to mitigate some of the pre-school level educational deficiencies in children who come from less enriched environments. The focus on letters, numbers, culture, etc. is exactly what pre-school teachers would want kids to learn on a basic level to prepare for K, and often the songs are catchy, the puppets cute, etc. So, the intent for good is/was there and it seems harmless enough...

However, the research has shown that gains from educational programming like Sesame Street is not long term or even something that can be directly linked to the program (meaning, if you sang the catchy song "C is for COOKIE!" with a puppet, he may have picked it up at the exact same time). There are some studies that show a bit of educational programming may help children learn, but none of them show that they are really any better than "real life" learning. So if your option is Sesame Street or sit facing a wall, go with Sesame Street. If it is Sesame Street vs. play in an enriched environment with an attentive adult, there is more of an argument for the second option. In addition as you mentioned, where before Sesame Street was not so big in the commercial stuff, it now is. Elmo is huge. The characters are everywhere. They are a segue into the commercialism of TV.

Will a kid "learn" a few choice things here and there from TV? Sure! But for me, I wonder if it is worth it, and second, that it is not really from TV as much as it is from being ready to learn... If we HAVE to put something on a screen (when DS is really sick, or we are stuck on a really long flight) I'll put on a little Sesame Street. But I really don't think of it as "educational"...

In "The Plug In Drug", there is a chapter titled "What's wrong with Sesame Street?". Maybe read that for some of the research .
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#5 of 5 Old 07-16-2008, 09:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all so much for your thoughtful replies. You have reminded me of what I knew all along...
I guess I just needed to be reminded. It's hard not to get sucked in sometimes....

Amanda , mama to my two boys: N (10/06) and : A (7/09)
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