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The Benefits of Educational Television

As parents, we hear that we should not let our children watch much television.  We hear about how television viewing desensitizes our children to violence, introduces them to sexuality and profanity, encourages a sedentary lifestyle and weight gain, limits and reduces their comfort with social interactions, and does not stimulate their intellect.  While all of these can be true, none of them has to be true . . . provided that we carefully select the programs that our children watch and the amount of time that our children are allowed to watch them.

Young children should not view graphic shows of any sort (i.e., medical dramas, racy shows, programs with violence or profanity, etc.).  However, educational programs can be very beneficial for children.  They can both educate and entertain children.  Actually, children watching these programs may be so entertained that they may not even perceive that they are being taught.  The shows can foster a healthy curiosity, a love of learning, and teach a variety of mnemonic devices that children can use in a host of other learning opportunities.

Below is a list of quality television programs (some available in re-runs only) and related websites.

  • “Growing Up” on Animal Planet
  • “Too Cute” on Animal Planet
  • “Blue’s Clues” on Nickelodeon
  • “Beakman’s World” on The Learning Channel and CBS
  • “Sesame Street” on PBS
  • “Bill Nye the Science Guy” on PBS
  • “Reading Rainbow” on PBS (or, more correctly, “Reading Rainbow 2″ is coming soon)
  • “Barney and Friends” on PBS
  • “The Electric Company” on PBS
  • “How Do They Do It” on Science Channel

Of course, this list is just a sample of the educational television programming available for children.  The following television networks (or family of networks) provide a host of other excellent programming as well:  Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, Disney Channel, History Channel, Nickelodeon, PBS, Science Channel, and The Learning Channel.

With so many educational programs available, our children should watch and learn for hours on end, right?  Well, perhaps not.  Because children need variety, physical activity, sun light, social interaction, etc., television viewing (even quality television viewing) should be limited to an hour or 1.5 hours daily.

By carefully selecting the programs that our children watch and the amount of time that our children are allowed to watch them, we can access the benefits of quality television viewing and minimize the risks of television viewing.

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2 comments to The Benefits of Educational Television

  • Ann

    Of course children should not sit for hours on end watching TV. But just like adults, kids need downtime for the mind and body to just relax and not have to think to hard. Kids work hard these days, especially if they go to school and have homework. Plus sports, dance, clubs, etc. And sitting watching a funny, entertaining program is so relaxing.

    I love the shows that are especially focused on reading. They are entertaining and educational at the same time and I think a child who learns to read early has a great advantage. I believe that the PBS show WordWorld taught my youngest current charge to read when he was about 3. I’m sure he picked up on it from other places and his older brothers as well, but his parents and I agree that none of us had made a specific effort to teach him, and by age 5 he was reading chapter books on his own. All of his current 1st grade homework is a joke to him compared to his older brothers who were still learning to read at that age.

    Also the kids have learned so much about history and science from these shows, like their favorites Dinosaur train and Wild Kratts! Things I never would have been able to teach them, and so much more than they would learn at school.

    I think that parents who insist on no TV are meaning well, but they don’t realize what their kids could be gaining from these shows!

  • Judi


    A suggestion: There are great educational programs out there. However, I would have liked for you to include age-appropriate guidelines for any TV watching.

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