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WWL: The ABC's of Kid's TV
Where We Live - with John Dankosky
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It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood


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49:00 minutes (23.52 MB)
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Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood taped episodes for more than thirty years – and continues to entertain and educate children long after Fred Rogers’ death.

It was the second longest running children’s show on PBS – trailing only the groundbreaking Sesame Street, which celebrates its 40th birthday this year.

Of course, we all have memories of big bird, Bert, Ernie and cookie monster. But over time the beloved Muppets have been overshadowed by Barney, Clifford, Blue and Dora.

With so many kid’s TV shows to choose from – from Cartoon Network to Nickelodeon, Noggin and PBS – How do we know what enriches children's growth and development…and what is pure entertainment?

Today, Where We Live, an exploration of children's television.

We’ll dive into some of our favorites and hear from researchers and psychologists about what’s worth letting your child watch over... and over... and over.

*This program originally aired on August 14, 2009.

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Listener Email from Ben

My 2 year old son and I watch youtube videos of trains, planes and music performances.  They are almost like watching things in real life, except for the bad resolution.  There is usually only one camera angle, and the action comes pretty slowly, especially if it is an old steam engine working its way up a steep hill.  Do you think these simple homemade videos without commercials and fast paced action are better than commercial TV?  Does this seem like age appropriate material?

Listener Email from Julia

My question is are there any good educational children's programs on the radio? I know it does not sound very cool compared to TV or internet, when I am driving with my daughter on the road, I always hoped that we could turn in to some programs for children (whether it is children's songs, children's story time, even news program children). Are there any programs like this out there?


Listener Email from Cheri

I wasn't allowed to watch tv as a small child but did allow my now nearly grown sons (18, 22). Neither were fans of Sesame Street or Barney but the oldest loved Doug and Rugrats but more, he loved old movies and we rented more than watched programmed tv. He also watched a news show for kids with Linda Ellerbee. I think he liked that she didn't talk down to her audience  And I did limit tv time!

No More Reading Rainbow!?!?!?

My husband and I grew up on Reading Rainbow.  We have two boys who love it as well - in fact, we tape it everyday and watch it at night before bedtime.  Last month, however, the show ended forever.  We emailed CPT and were told that children's programming has gone away from encouraging children to read for the love of reading to teaching children to read.  Seems to me, why would they want to learn to read if they do not understand how wonderful reading can be in the first place?!?!  The show will certainly be missed in our home!

Listener email from Tim

Dr. Springer should double check her sources when she says that Cosby Kids was on before Mr. Rodgers.
Let us set the chronology straight:
Mr. Rodgers started on NET (National Educational TV) on February 19 1968...
Sesame Street first aired on PBS on November 10 1969...
Cosby Kids started two days later on NBC on November 12 1969.

Listener email from Lynne

I loved Mr. Rogers and Sesame street as an adult, and as a kid I saw Miss Frances and do not forget Kukla, Fran and Ollie and, of course, Howdy Doody.

However when my children were 4 and 2 years old, I read Marie Wynn's Plug-In Drug and from then on made herculean efforts to keep my children from TV. My own daughter prevents her children from watching it as best she can, too. Neither of us can forgo the tube ourselves, but for children even Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers are not as good as figuring out how to put those Legos together to make a castle or fort or doll house -- all barely resembling the child's intent!

Listener email from Beth

I had trouble finding your email and phone call links on website and
didn't hear them in time on the radio, but wanted to thank you for today's

I have a 7 year old daughter and have a TV-free home.  We watch videos
only -- some TV on vacations -- and the one thing I was sorry not to hear
about today was more about how it matter HOW kids watch (i.e., actively or
passively) and also WHAT they could be doing instead.  Yes, the content
does matter (and the pacing, certainly) - I agree with your speakers
there.  But if parents think they are doing their kids a favor having
their kids watch "educational TV" when the children might be role playing
with dolls or playing in the yard, that is not automatically the case, and
I think many parents kid themselves that TV is OK for kids because our
whole culture is "turned onto TV."  As for turning on the TV in the car,
when the child could be making up a song or reading a book or a
magazine...well...my back seat was packed with board books from early on
and it was a pain but well worth it since my daughter has the gift of
being able to bury herself in a book whenever she cannot stand our

I share your great admiration for Mr. Rogers.  Without cable TV, I don't
know how often he is rebroadcast now....but I am glad that there are TV
producers now who have learned some of his generous lessons!

Keep up the great work - your programming is wonderful and I only wish I
had more free time in which to listen to it.

Listener email from Frank

Our talented daughter in law, Ngoc Diep (Truong) Donovan now of Canton, CT used Sesame Street every day to teach her newly arrived Vietnamese relatives the English alphabet and the English language. She posted CPTV's schedules on the refrigerator door. It worked well!
Diep & her family (father, mother, grandmother two young girls and two young boys escaped Saigon in a South Korean freighter to Subic Bay, Philippines immediately before the April 30 fall to the North Vietnamese.
Her relatives were captured, sent to NVA "Education Camps"  for years, tortured and some died. They were allowed to emigrate to America. One is now teaching mathematics at the University of Missouri

Listener email from Felicity

I agree with the lady on the program that there is no programs designed for 7-9 year olds.
My 7 year old daughter went from Dora the Explorer to Hannah Montana - or Doing exploring tasks with Dora to watching a 15 year old talk about crushes, clothes and being sneaky/mouthy with adults. -What about a program on like-aged children having adventures - like "Daniel Cook" - a Canadian show? Where did the Brady Bunch Go?

Listener email

I'd like to comment about how important the music has been on Mr Rogers
and Sesame street to my sons and myself as a mother of young children. 
Pleasant, easy to sing and remember songs about how you have to "take
the hand of someone you love when you cross the street" or how  "you
can "never go down the drain", "You are special", "Everything grows
together because you're all one piece"  provided helpful  mantras for
growing and vocabulary for expressing their feelings and concerns.

Facebook comment from Fred

Favorite shows, Howdy Doody, Romper Room (Just remembered Do Bee, Don't Bee), Mickey Mouse Club, Capt. Kangaroo, Sunrise Semester, Modern Farmer, The 20th Century with Walter Cronkite, etc..., lowbrow? all the great Warner Bros cartoons, esp Bugs Bunny, The Three Stooges, The Little Rascals, Sky King.

My kids were mesmerized by Barney, watched Sesame Street, my son 2 years younger than my daughter, loved Mr. Rogers, Blues Clues.  I can say they have been most exposed to cable and surprisingly gravitated to informational programs.  I would ask how they would know some fact, they would chime in that they learned it from TV and give me the eyeroll and say "what do you think we are, stupid?"

So true about the 6-9 age group, the old Electric Company seemed to fill that void, however, at 6-9 the kids are already in school, so exposure / time with TV is actually less than in preschool.

What I do miss is the great music from the Warner Bros cartoons.... Fantasia is amazing

Twitter message from Dave

Could you address the tone of the humor today? It relies much more on sarcasm than when I was watching cartoons in the 70s.

Facebook comment from Lana

Although never a huge fan of kids watching tv,  I have learned from having a child of my own that tv can be a great addition to a larger parental tool box. I use tv time as a strategic tool to get myself some much needed TIME. Time to get the dishes done, time to catch up on school work or time sit and comment to WWL on Facebook : ) Admittedly, I have some guilt about this but find it a necessary evil in our household. We limit tv watching to one hour or so per day, only allow the Noggin station, which is commercial free and age apporriate, and never use tv as a reward. We never allow tv to be a substitute for good parenting or real world learning experience. Hopefully, this will prevent our children from becoming obese tv watching zombies. eek!