WGBH News and Media Relations


November 20, 2014

WGBH Deploys Ruff Ruffman to Teach Kids Media Literacy in New Pilot Project

Digital production engages kids and parents to promote balanced and safe online activity

BOSTON, Mass. (November 20, 2014) – WGBH Boston has launched a pilot for a new digital project for PBS KIDS to teach media literacy to kids aged 6-11. Ruff Ruffman: Humble Media Genius explores the constantly changing world of media and how kids use technology to help families become more media literate.

Funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), the project brings back the much-loved character Ruff Ruffman from WGBH’s popular gameshow, FETCH! With Ruff Ruffman, and places him in a new setting. It employs original animation and interactive features, including videos, quizzes and polls for kids, and also provides resources for parents to discuss both the fun of online discovery and how to engage in safe behavior using technology. The pilot focuses on texting, sharing photographs, using search and finding an appropriate balance of technology use, and has already garnered more than 1.8 million streams in its first three weeks.

“Young people are inundated with new forms of media every day, and parents are challenged with managing how they interact with it,” says Brigid Sullivan, WGBH Vice President for Children’s Media and Educational Programming. “Public media is uniquely suited to serve as a trusted guide for families in navigating through digital content. And Ruff is just the dog for the job!”

Bill Shribman, Senior Executive Producer in WGBH Children’s Media adds, “WGBH and PBS KIDS are delighted to bring Ruff back with topical new animations that are educational, fun and funny, and help families learn how to use technology in a balanced and safe way.”

WGBH has adapted best practices in media education, utilized current research and examined trends in media use to explore this new space. WGBH surveyed more than 4,000 kids and 250 parents to turn kids' questions into new videos with Ruff. The site includes a dedicated area for parents and caregivers that offers a community forum to discuss families’ positive and negative experiences with technology, as well as a wide range of family rules about technology use. A new collection at PBS LearningMedia offers a set of companion resources for teachers.

WGBH will continue to expand the project by consulting with a large and diverse group of media academics and practitioners to provide a dynamic and practical accompanying curriculum.

The new site launches on the heels of WGBH’s debut of First8 Studios, a dedicated digital production unit focused on developing educational, research-based content for children aged 0-8.

Get introduced to Ruff Ruffman: Humble Media Genius in this YouTube video, and find more information online and on social at pbskids.org/fetch/ruff.

About WGBH

WGBH Boston is America’s preeminent public broadcaster and the largest producer of PBS content for TV and the Web, including Masterpiece, Antiques Roadshow, Frontline, Nova, American Experience, Arthur, Curious George, and more than a dozen other primetime, lifestyle and children’s series. WGBH’s television channels include WGBH 2, WGBX 44, and the digital channels World and Create. WGBH TV productions focusing on the region’s diverse community include Greater BostonBasic Black, High School Quiz Show, and Neighborhood Kitchens. WGBH Radio serves listeners across New England with 89.7 WGBH Boston’s Local NPR®; 99.5 WCRB; and WCAI, the Cape and Islands NPR® Station. WGBH also is a major source of programs for public radio (among them, PRI’s The World®), a leader in educational multimedia (including PBS LearningMedia™, providing the nation’s educators with free, curriculum-based digital content), and a pioneer in technologies and services that make media accessible to deaf, hard of hearing, blind and visually impaired audiences. WGBH has been recognized with hundreds of honors: Emmys, Peabodys, duPont-Columbia Awards and Oscars. Find more information at wgbh.org.



WGBH Media Relations

Emily Balk

Catherine Burke