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Is SpongeBob Bad for Your Preschooler's Brain? (page 2)

Is SpongeBob Bad for Your Preschooler

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based on 26 ratings
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Updated on Sep 19, 2011

Must-See TV

At the end of the day, parents want to know, “OK. What can my preschooler watch?” Should you choose Dora or Sesame Street? We asked two experts, Deborah Linebarger and Betsy Bozdech, Executive Editor of Common Sense Media, which shows they thought were Must See TV for preschoolers. Here are 5 shows they love:

  • Super Why This show sets your kids up for reading success, by teaching key early literacy skills like the alphabet and phonemic awareness. The kids on the Super Why crew speak directly to the viewers: asking for their help, giving them time to respond, followed up with instant feedback. This is a highly interactive and personalized approach to kids’ programming.
  • WordWorld This series literally brings words to life – every character, place, and object is made of the letters that make up its name. Kids explore the world around them through words, making connections between the letters of a word and the meaning of the word itself. WordWorld helps preschoolers identify letters and understand how they form words, laying the ground work for early literacy.
  • Zoboomafoo "I just love this program. I have found that kids’ vocabulary scores go up when watching programs like this," Linebarger says. Zoboomafoo is another great example of interactive kids’ television. The hosts, the Kratt brothers, speak directly to viewers and help kids learn all about animals. On top of that, along with the help of a lively lemur named Zoboo, they teach positive forms of model behavior. The educational portion of the show focuses on building kids’ understanding of concepts, which is key for preschoolers.
  • Sesame Street "There's a reason Sesame Street is a perennial favorite," Bozdech says. It teaches kids about a wide variety of subjects, from word building to smart snacking, and has some of the most loveable characters in TV history (who doesn't love Muppets?).  And its sprinkling of satire makes it fun for parents, too. In recent years, Sesame Street acknowledged the importance of pacing in kids’ programming and started slowing things down.
  • Sid the Science Kid Think science is a snore? Sid the Science Kid does a great job of making science fun and easily understood. "What I like about the show is that it accurately portrays preschool, does a great job of breaking down the scientific method and explaining it, and focuses on writing and documenting what you observe daily,” Linebarger says. “It also captures the enthusiasm for learning that is typical of this age group.” And, it's all done in within the context of a story, which makes it easier for preschoolers to learn the sometimes-stuffy science content.

A few additional tips: avoid commercials whenever possible. If you’re able, watch television on demand, rather than in real time. It’s very hard for kids to distinguish between a commercial and a program, which can be problematic when it comes to mismatched marketing. If your child does see a commercial, talk about what the intent of a commercial is. Also, don’t be afraid to set limits. Rules surrounding how much TV, when to watch, and what’s on the screen are all key to ensuring your kid’s getting the most out of her tube time.

Linebarger says programs developed using a curriculum to convey educational messages can positively impact academic achievement through childhood and adolescence. Ultimately, parents should look for programs with lots of interactivity, a narrative format with a slow pace, and explicit claims about the educational benefits of the show.

No matter how much screen time your kid’s getting, be sure she’s getting lots of time to explore outside, use her imagination, and of course play!

Want to Take Action?

Check out Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood’s “Take Action” initiative for parents to tell Nickelodeon to shelve their marketing to preschoolers.

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