Positively Effects of Television
Without a doubt, television is the central and principal form of communication in many people’s lives. This form is most often exposed to a child who instantly becomes accustomed to its presence. Children are televisions largest audience, as Morris shows, “Children aged two to five look at the TV tube on an average of 28.4 hours a week; those between the ages of six and eleven average 23.6 hours a week”. Television has played an important role in many children’s lives and its viewing has been a favorite activity for many of them. The effects of television on children have been disputed. Some people said that viewing time has negative. Some people, however, think some of the early educational television productions for children are valuables, which help children learn a lot.
These important questions on the topic of children’s television viewing in its early beginnings continue to be debated in society. The creation of children’s television shows in the 1940s and 1950s offered children pure entertainment and very little smart education. According to Palmer, “there were a few shows that did teach children values and morals, but the true educational television shows for children did not appear until the late 1960s(28). Not only educational shows, but public television shows, dialogue, help in increasing a child’s vocabulary and in improving he/she speaking skills. Therefore, parents should encourage their children to watch more public television today because public television helps children to read.
Television supports reading, which in turn to improves language ability. Good programming improves reading and can increase thinking. The Himmelweit confirms, “Television in the long run encourages children to read books; a conclusion that can be reinforced by evidence from libraries, book clubs, and publishing companies” (Postman 33). Dr. Hemmelweit stresses this point; “Book reading comes into its own, not despite television but because of it”(33).
Television has as both an entertainer and an educator for children. Neil Postman supports television for its valuable contribution to language development in children, saying, “Long before they have learned to read, or for that matter, even begun to master their language, children may accumulate, through television, a fund of knowledge that was simply inaccessible to pre-television children” (35).
When television first came to life in the 1940s, puppets and whimsy, pie throwing and silliness characterized its children’s shows, which are innocence. Among the earliest children’s shows were Kukla, Fran and Ollie, Howdy Doody, Ding Dong School, Superman, and Hopalong Cassidy. Then in the fifties the shows Super Circus, Watch Mr. Wizard, Rin Tin Tin, Lassie, The Mickey Mouse Club, and Captain
Kangaroo were among the standard of educational shows. These shows kept children entertained and were intended to convince audiences. The Mickey Mouse Club, Captain
Kangaroo, Lassie, and a few other shows went a step further and taught children values and morals such as sharing, respect, and friendship.
Educational Television programs for children expanded in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Sesame Street, and the Electric Company are the most popular and most successful programs created. The goals of these programs were to inform and educate, and these goals was done through creative programming.
In 1967, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood began playing on the Public Broadcasting System. The main character in this program is Mister Rogers and he is joined by group of friendly characters included of children, adults, and puppets. Within Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, “young children found a special neighborhood friend who was low key, friendly, and talked to them about a range of though issues and concerns such as sex, death, divorce, and holocausts” (Palmer 66). Mister Rogers became a positive role for children by teaching them about friendships, social, and the occupation world. He approached topics not only through just talking, but also by singing, imaginative games, and creations. Fred Rogers’ soft heart was for preschoolers, which made him, became one of a performer most people love. “He continues to this day, still working at his lifelong goal of creating and atmosphere where children are accepted and allowed to grow” (Schneider 171).
On November 10, 1969, the Children’s Television Workshop presented Sesame Street that played on the Public Broadcasting System. As Lesser said, “the program received great attention in the press and among parents, and was almost universally applauded for its originality and imagination”(168). Sesame Street was created to teach reading and math concepts to preschoolers, using humor, music, and the power of visual television. Lesser also mentioned that, “the goal of the show was to help children, primarily the children living in poor areas, to develop both cognitive and thinking skills in their childhood before they began school”(170). Sesame Street reached all homes, the rich and poor, across the country and began broadcasting overseas. It taught many children of different backgrounds how to think:
For Example, many mothers of mentally retarded children wrote to tell us that although they have been told that their children were incapable of learning. They had actually observed them learning from the Sesame Street to recite the alphabet, recognized letters and count in sequence. (Lesser 172)
In the 1970s people took a test on children who did and did not watch Sesame Street and on those who watched more than others. Children were tested before viewing and after viewing over a period of six months. These experiments proved that those who viewed Sesame Street improved more than children who viewed less or did not view the program at all. The child’s background and social status did not have any effect on his/her score; any child can benefit from watching Sesame Street.
Sesame Street’s program “included: puppets; the cast of live adults and children on the set; animations; and pagination and live-action films” (Lesser 129). Its use of colorful and nice image that easy attracts a child’s attention. The group of character is children, adults, and many famous puppets that made Sesame Street so unique:
People who inhabit Sesame Street are forceful individuals, from multi-racial and multi-ethnic backgrounds, possessed of considerable imagination. They hang out with uncommon creatures-including Big Bird, Cookie Monster, and Oscar the Grouchwho are also forceful and imaginative. All these characters ask intelligent questions about the larger world; they enjoy learning; they dance and make music; they fall down and make mistakes. (Lystad 21)
From language and math, the show moved on to morals, human relations and emotions. It taught children valuable lessons about life. Children learned that it is okay to make mistakes; they learned how to share, and most import thing that they learned how to love themselves and others.
Individuals shown include a motley crew of young and old, black and white and brown, female and male, strong and weak bodied, tall and small. These individuals interact with each other in play and in problem solving, treating each other with dignity and respect, while cognizant of the other’s foibles. In addition to a respect for individual, there is a respect for cultural groups. (Lystad 21)
Sesame Street teaches children about the world and this helps them to understand and accept differences in others. Sesame Street uses direct methods to teach basic intellectual skills and also indirect teaching methods social attitudes. Some of the attributes are: people treating each other with kindness, respect for racial differences, taking another person’s point of view, and accepting rules of justice and fair play.
In 1971, the Children’s Television Workshop began show another major television for children, The Electric Company. This program was created to teach reading skills to second-graders through fourth-graders who had reading problems. “The Electric Company curriculum emphasized decoding’ skills, particularly three strategies for letter-sound analysis: blending, chunking, and scanning” (Moody 72). The program involved sound-symbol analysis of the printed word. In this program, children were taught correspondence between letters and sounds to enable them to decode words. “The concepts, letters, and word are presented by everything from rock-n-roll singers, dancers, and musicians to a gorilla and animated alphabet” (Moody 72). Well-known personalities such as Bill Cosby always played in the show and animation was used a lot.
Both Sesame Street and The Electric Company succeeded at educating young children from all backgrounds. “The Electric Company matched Sesame Street’s achievement, proving once again that TV can make learning of school related skills a voluntary daily pastime among children” (Palmer 106). Both of these educational
programs are similar in that they provide many of vocabulary development by giving simple dialogues that are very understandable. The dialogue has simple grammar, refers to present ideas, focuses on key words, and uses the same form and content over again. They both also use similar approaches in teaching children by being imaginative, creative, and funny.
Television was created only to entertain, but after thirty years the creations of educational television programs finally came about. These shows succeeded in intellectually educating children while also entertaining them. They have positive affects on children of all races and social status. Those who viewed it gained more knowledge over those who did not. They offered educational and beneficial programming that helps in improving a child’s vocabulary and by encouraging their reading. These programs also taught children moral values. Because public television teaches children the basic knowledge and the valuable facts of life, parents should encourage their children to watch more public television.
Lesser, Gerald S. Children and Television. New York: Random House,
Lystad, Mary. “20 Years on Sesame Street.” Children Today. 1989: 20-22
Moody, Kate. Growing up on Television. New York: Times Books, 1980.
Morris, Norman S. Televisions Child. Boston: Little Brown, 1971.
Palmer, Edward L. Children in the Cradle of Television. United States of America: D.C.
Postman, Neil. Television and the Teaching of English. New York:
Schneider, Cy. Children’s Television. Chicago: NTC Business Books, 1987.