In a SmartParenting.com.ph article in 2013, developmental-behavioral pediatrician Ma. Theresa Arranz-Lim, M.D. said that TV shows have “a definite impact on the demeanor and development of a child.” -- and that goes both ways. While many studies point to the ill effects of too much TV exposure, watching quality shows can actually help children do better in school, as recent research shows.
A new study by economists from Wellesley College and the University of Maryland has found that children who had access to and were able to watch Sesame Street did better in elementary school compared to children who had little access to the show. Parenting.com also wrote about it.
The researchers studied the effects of the first airing of Sesame Street in 1969 to children’s school performance. They compared children who lived in the areas with strong broadcasts of the show, particularly the VHF channels, with children who had weaker signals (which led to limited access to the show) on the UHF channels.
“Children who were preschool age in 1969 and who lived in areas with greater Sesame Street coverage were significantly more likely to be at the grade level appropriate for their age through school,” said the authors.
“It is remarkable that a single intervention consisting of watching a television show for an hour a day in preschool can have such a substantial effect helping kids advance through school,” said co-author Philip B. Levine.
And with millions of children watching a typical episode, Levine added that the show is a very cost effective approach. “Our analysis suggests that Sesame Street may be the biggest and most affordable early childhood intervention out there, at a cost of just a few dollars per child per year, with benefits that can last several years.
And what do the Sesame Street guys have to say?
“Drs. [Mellisa] Kearney & Levine’s research reaffirms the intention Joan Ganz Cooney and the team that created Sesame Street set out to accomplish. We are thrilled to see the positive effects of Sesame Street as a population-based intervention – especially for those less privileged,” said Dr. Jennifer Kotler Clarke, Vice President of Research and Evaluation at Sesame Workshop.
The study was published on June 8 in the National Bureau of Economic Research.
Sources: June 8, 2015. "New Study Finds Sesame Street Improves School Readiness". wellesley.edu July 4, 2015. "Watching 'Sesame Street' Helps Kids in School, Study Says". parenting.com