Thursday, February 25, 2016

Kids shows sure seem to have come a long way

Since becoming a parent, I have watched a lot of children's television. Some of it because our son watches it and some of it in order to figure out what we will feel okay letting him watch.

Boy, has the world changed since I was a kid. But I don't mean that in a bad way. Children's shows seem to be a lot more effectively educational and also a lot more socially aware.

My big TV remembrance of being a toddler featured Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers and the Electric Company. After that, we're talking about Saturday morning cartoons that were designed to sell toys and keep us out of our parents' hair for a few hours.

For both my wife and I, one of the defining moments of how children's television has changed was when we were vetting the show called Blaze and the Monster Machines. It's a Nick Junior show about a boy and his sentient truck in a world of other talking trucks, teaching kids about physics and technology.

Neither one of us was particularly impressed with the show as we watched Blaze and his human try to save a friend who was stuck with bouncy tires. And then they talked about how they were going to have to use the power of adhesion to save him and then proceeded to define and discuss adhesion.

Wait a second? Is a cartoon for toddlers talking about adhesion? Seriously? 

Actually, that paled in comparison to a Brazilian cartoon called Earth to Luna that did things like accurately depicting a banana rhizome and the Mars Rover Curiosity. Admittedly, Earth to Luna (a five-year-old scientist who uses the entire world as her laboratory) is a PBS-style educational show but we were still impressed by it. 

I've basically skipped about three decades worth of development in children's entertainment. The whole concept of edutainment, shows that are supposed to be fun and teach stuff, seems to come a long way. Frankly, on both levels.

Maybe, and this is something for an education expert or a child psychiatrist to actually determine, being able to integrate the entertainment aspect of the show in the educational level of the show allows you teach things better.

Between what our two-year-old will actually pay attention to and what we want to show him, there's a whole mess of shows that don't end up on our television set. But still, it really feels like we still have a wide selection of quality shows that actually teach him something.

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