Educational Television: Can Your Child Actually Learn From TV?

As parents, we often complain and worry about our children watching too much TV. While too much of anything can be bad, there are ways your 'idiot box' can turn into a 'learning box'. Find out how.

By Shaswathi Sandeep

Educational Television: Can Your Child Actually Learn From TV?

Most of us who grew up in the 90s would remember Captain Planet. We watched in awe as the five 'Planeteers' defended our earth from environmental disasters. Dexter brought with him the wonders of Science and who can forget all the wildlife shows we watched on Animal Planet or things we discovered through Discovery Channel. Sure, TV does not give us all the answers, but, TV can be educational too.

Early in 2009, a study by Nielsen, a market research firm, found out that children’s television viewing had reached an eight-year high. Children aged between two and five years watched TV for more than 32 hours a week and children in the age group of six to 11 years spent 28 hours per week watching TV. That was nine years ago and things have not got any better. 

With the advent of newer technologies like smartphones and the like, preschoolers are hooked onto screens the entire time. Even schools use technology in education these days, which goes to show that technology is not all that bad.

So, what is educational television? It is when the TV show inculcates a habit of learning in your child or teaches them something new. The topics can revolve around etiquette, subjects or general knowledge.

Educational TV has got better with time, and these days, almost every show that your child watches offers some insights or learning. We list out a few shows that preschoolers today love and which come with great educational values.

Educational television shows for preschoolers

  • Paw Patrol: The children are crazy about it and laugh and clap when they watch the dogs (or pups, to be precise), save the day. It teaches children about kindness and helping others. It also gives them lessons on solving problems. It is about a group of friendly rescue pups who team up to help friends in need. So, it also teaches children about the different types of people you find in society and how everyone lives together in peace and harmony.
  • Dora the Explorer: The ever popular TV show helps develop good habits in your child and encourages them to be kind to people in need. While Dora goes on her little adventures with her best friend, a monkey named Boots, she helps people in need and involves your child too in it. From physical activities like dancing to solving simple puzzles or counting, the show keeps children engaged and teaches them basic concepts. They can also learn new words every day and even pick up some Spanish!
  • Go Diego Go: Meet Diego, cousin of Dora. An interactive show, Go Diego Gofollows eight-year-old Diego, who rescues animals around the world. This is a show for wildlife lovers. Your child can learn a lot about animals from this show. At the end, there is also a puzzle, which they all solve together that reveals the animal of the day. To solve the puzzle, questions related to that particular animal and its characteristics have to be answered. Fun and educational!

Also, shows like Peppa Pig teach children how to speak in English and behave in public places like for instance, the library or a movie theatre. They also learn manners. And of course, there are other shows for older children on Discovery and Animal Planet.

What children learn from television

Now, that you know the kind of shows that exist on TV these days, let’s get down to what children learn from them.

  1. Teaches various concepts: Television can teach your child many concepts in a fun manner. Younger children have shows like Dora the Explorer and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse that teach them how to count, tell time and name the seasons. Shows like Peppa Pig improve English language skills. Shows on Discovery Kids motivate them to learn about Science and shows like Art Attack pique their interest in arts and crafts.
  2. Educates about the world: Thanks to shows on Animal TV or Discovery Kids, your child gets to see how people live in different parts of the world. And also, about various types of animal habitats.
  3. Encourages new hobbies: Shows like Art Attack and Sesame Street inspire children to take up new hobbies and try out some DIY (do-it-yourself) craft. When they watch a show like Doc McStuffins, they too can nurture dreams of becoming a doctor. When they see Dora the Explorer go on adventures, they too feel like heading outdoors. In some way or the other, these shows motivate children to come up with interesting hobbies or activities.
  4. Builds memory: Interactive shows like Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Dora the Explorer encourage children to learn along with them. When they ask questions, it makes the children think and come up with an answer of their own. It helps in building memory and opens the path for discussions. It also makes them think things through.
  5. Inculcates good habits: All children shows today encourage them to lead a healthy lifestyle. From good dental hygiene to helping the elderly — these shows cover everything and can be a good influence on the children, even in the long run. After all, come to think of it, as kids, even we wanted to solve mysteries like Scooby Doo and save the world like the 'Planeteers'.

How to turn 'idiot box' into a 'learning box'

TV is a part and parcel of every child’s life and you cannot completely forbid it. So, here are some guidelines that you can follow to ensure that your child is entertained but also learns something useful. It is also necessary to keep your child away from inappropriate programmes or shows. 

  • Decide on how much time your child can spend watching TV every day. It should not be more than two hours a day.
  • As much as possible, watch the shows together. That way, you will not be worried about what she is watching.
  • Go through the various websites and find out age-appropriate programmes that best suit your child.
  • Just watching educational shows will not help; get involved with activities and make your child think out and solve problems on her own. 
  • Over dinner, ask him what he watched that day. Children are always excited to share what they learned and it is helpful to have healthy discussions around various topics.

Look at TV as a ‘learning box’ rather than an ‘idiot box’ for a change. When you think it is too much viewing for your child, you know where the ‘off’ button is!  

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