Kids Media Matters: Archives

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What matters to...


ming tsaiWhat inspired your career choice to get into public broadcasting?
Public television at the time, and still to this day, is the only station that hosts and airs true cooking shows. I'm a chef at heart; it's about the food, ingredients, and techniques, and teaching people how to use them to create healthy, delicious food. 

How have you had the opportunity to get involved in kids media and projects in your current role?
I actually got to be an animated character for the first time when I appeared on Arthur. It was a show focused on allergies: Binky had a peanut allergy. I was on the show as a judge in a cooking contest. I also had the opportunity to appear on Zoom for an episode on allergies, and during the show we cooked lettuce cups with a bunch of kids.

As a father, what do you look out for in entertainment for your child?
My kids can watch any educational TV, public television, History channel, National Geographic channel, and sporting events. We do monitor their situation comedy. Only an hour a day, the same as my parents did for me.

What was your favorite show as a kid? 
Hogan's Heroes was the show I watched with my brother, we loved it. We somehow convinced my parents that it was historically significant and shouldn't count towards our one free hour of TV time — and it worked!

Any advice to today’s parents of young kids? 
Monitor what your kids watch. Make sure that they are selecting appropriate shows. There are many great educational shows out there for them to watch and learn from. Take time to watch a show as a family, Whether it's a comedy for you to laugh together or an educational show for you to learn together, it's time together.

Read Ming Tsai's full bio >

What are kids learning from Lady Gaga?

lady gagaBy now, you've likely seen or heard about pop superstar Lady GaGa's envelope-pushing antics. What do you think of her risqué videos and provocative lyrics? Is it high art — or highly inappropriate for kids?

Watch how kids of all ages have responded to Gaga's "Disco Stick," and find out what you should know about music and your kids.
Learn more >

What matters to...


carol greenwaldWhat has inspired your career choice?
I’ve always been interested in how we can use television to get kids to read. I love children’s books and was inspired by a study done at Action for Children’s Television in the 1970s (Peggy Charren, former WGBH trustee, was president of ACT) that showed that if kids saw books on television they were more likely to read them, even more likely to go to the library to get those books. That led us to create such series as Long Ago & Far Away in the 1980s, then Arthur, which went on the air in 1996, and since then, Time Warp Trio, Curious George, and Martha Speaks. And with these recent series, Curious George and Martha Speaks, we’ve also figured out how to layer in more substantive curriculum like science, math, and engineering (George) and vocabulary (Martha). 

What are mandatory characteristics of your programs?
I think it’s crucial that programs for kids have the same high production values and standards that our adult programs do. That means we have to pay attention to everything, from the music (we love to use real and varied musical styles such as Ziggy Marley’s reggae rendition of the Arthur theme song or the opera spoof on Martha Speaks), to the quality of the animation and design and especially the stories themselves. We work with the best writers in the business and they do a great job combining strong stories, interesting and relatable characters, and lots of jokes that appeal to parents and kids alike.

What has been a standout achievement of yours?
Though all of our shows are award-winning, the most meaningful stuff is when you can see that you’ve really had an impact on kids' lives. We were so thrilled to learn that a story on Arthur about our blind character Marina reading a Braille book helped make kids feel better about their own use of Braille. We’ve seen similar impacts when we did an outreach campaign around asthma using Buster Baxter, where research was done that showed that it helped kids do a better job managing their own asthma. And this fall, I was very thrilled to read in a blog about a mom who was amazed one day when she was on a hike with her three-year-old daughter who flung herself down and said “I’m so fatigued!” and it turned out she’d been watching Martha Speaks. Those are the moments you know you’ve done your job!

Any advice to today’s parents of young kids? 
There are so many things you have to juggle when kids are little, so I remember being very happy knowing that some of the simplest acts are the ones that can really support your child’s learning. Like reading to your kids every day. It’s so simple, but it’s one of the most important things you can do to help them gain early literacy skills. Another example is playing board games. That really helps them get the early math skills they need before entering school. And encouraging their curiosity and exploration; it’s really what childhood is all about and it’s also a way to help turn your child into a mini-scientist who just might grow up to love science!

Read Carol Greenwald's full bio >

Empowering Parents and Protecting Children

berkman center logoHarvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society has released the Youth and Media Policy Working Group Initiative's response to the FCC's Notice of Inquiry (09-94) on "Empowering Parents and Protecting Children in an Evolving Media Landscape." The response synthesizes current research and data on the media practices of youth, focusing on three main areas — 1) Risky Behaviors and Online Safety, 2) Privacy, Publicity, and Reputation, and 3) Information Dissemination, Youth-Created Content, and Quality of Information — to highlight issues of genuine concern and to discuss the positive and creative opportunities that electronic media provide for young people.
Read the full response >

How much media is too much for kids?

In a typical day, the average young person (age 8–18) spends 7 hours and 38 minutes either online, watching TV, or otherwise consuming media, according to a new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. PBS NewsHour correspondent Hari Sreenivasan speaks with Vicky Rideout, a lead researcher in the study, about what these numbers say about young people, media use, and the impact of the Web on daily life.

What matters to...


between the lions producer judy stoiaWhat has inspired  your career choice?
Television is an ideal career for people interested in the marriage of creative expression and issues of social justice. Both as a journalist and producer of a children’s series, I have found enormous satisfaction in television and its ability to reach and influence a wide audience.

What are mandatory characteristics of your program(s)?
The children’s series I produce must be educational (following established practices for helping young children learn to read), entertaining, and of provable benefit to young children.

What has been a standout achievement of yours?
Over the years, we created a preschool literacy curriculum based on Between the Lions that has proved quite effective in high-poverty communities. Moreover, it’s useful and effective for children of any economic group.

Any advice to today’s parents of young kids? 
The most important things parents can do to help their children become lifelong readers is to talk to them (which builds vocabulary and awareness of the world around them) and read to them. It’s also fun!

Read Judith Stoia's full bio >

Joan Cusack: Preschool science rocks


joan cusackActress Joan Cusack has begun her fourth season as the narrator of Peep and the Big, Wide World, the children’s science show produced by WGBH. It airs on PBS stations across the country and, until the end of next year, the Discovery Kids channel. In it, three cartoon characters — Peep, a baby chicken; Chirp, a young robin; and Quack, an amusing duck — explore the world around them. The 47-year-old actress talked by phone to the Globe from Chicago, where she grew up and now lives with her husband and two boys, ages 9 and 12.

Read the full story on >

From Arthur to the ballet studio


jefferson payne dancing in peter and the wolfEver since I was a kid, I have had this goal of always wanting to be on stage performing the lead roles. While pursuing my dreams and goals, I have often thought back to these questions: how did I  become interested in dancing? What makes me want to dance?

When I was 3 years old, I loved the kids TV show Arthur. Everyone knows Arthur! At that age I would watch this TV series all the time. There was this specific Arthur show one day called Binky at Ballet. I remember watching Binky dance on stage in a pink tutu, pink tights, and pink ballet slippers. Watching him doing all these cool flips, turns, and jumps was really cool. I even thought it was really cool when he danced on his toes. I begged my mom for weeks and weeks to start ballet, hoping to do those cool turns and jumps. My mom finally said yes and said I didn’t have to continue with ballet classes if I did not like it. 

The following year, I stepped into my first class at Boston Ballet School, which was just around the corner from my home in the South End. I fell in love with ballet immediately and have never stopped. Over the course of the years, I have had the opportunity of learning from many wonderful teachers at Boston Ballet School, and have performed on stage in Boston Ballet’s productions of The Nutcracker, Madam Butterfly, and La Sylphide.

I am now 14 years of age and love ballet! I have been dancing for 11 years and I am still continuing to pursue my career! I am now in one of the top pre-professional levels of the school, and my goal is to be a principal dancer with Boston Ballet. Without the TV show Arthur I would be without ballet and would probably have never known the world of dance! Ballet is the best thing that ever happened to me. It expresses my way of thinking and how I move to certain music. My goal is to continue dancing ballet, all because of the TV show Arthur. Thanks, Arthur and Binky!

When a child knows someone with cancer

In a free event hosted by WGBH, experts in the field of pediatric health and education screened and discussed The Great MacGrady, a new Arthur episode guest starring Lance Armstrong that addresses cancer and survivorship. Watch the full panel discussion below, courtesy of the Forum Network.

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WGBH helps kids get wild about reading

Since 2000, Theo, Cleo, Lionel, and Leona have shown their prowess for teaching children to read on the Emmy Award-winning PBS Kids series produced by WGBH, Between the Lions.

Between the Lions is a multimedia educational initiative created to help children ages 3 to 7 acquire beginning reading skills and a love of reading. Built around a curriculum that incorporates the most recent evidence-based research in literacy instruction, each episode features an engaging variety of animation, puppetry, live action, music, and graphic segments that supplement the stories and address the curriculum goals.

Research conducted with children in Kansas (2000), New Mexico (2004-2005), and Mississippi (2001-2002, 2005-2006, 2007-2008) confirms that children can improve their reading skills by watching Between the Lions. This scientifically based reading research shows that viewing Between the Lions boosts children’s early reading skills in key areas, such as the concepts of print, letter knowledge, vocabulary, phonemic awareness, and phonics.

WGBH has long been concerned about the effects of kids' media. That's why we've assembled the Kids, Media, and Values—A Wake-Up Call kit.

Our goal is simple: to step up to the challenge of providing every American with the facts about television, media, and children and remind them that there are choices for parents.

Every time children watch TV or surf the Web, they are learning something. But what are they learning? Grown-ups need to shepherd children through the maze of images that may shape their minds, for better or worse.

You can make a difference

kids media matters kitStart by signing up for the free kit: Kids, Media, and Values — A Wake-Up Call

Children and media

Discover how TV, movies, advertising, computers, and video games can shape your child's development and what you can do to create a media-literate household.

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TV & movies

Girl at her computer


Boy with video game controller

Video games

Boy wondering about ads


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