Q: What is the consequence of watching the same Sesame Street
movie over and over? It's Sesame Street and it's a movie, and it's only about 1 hour long. So it's not TV, it's not computer, it's not passive. We watch it together and we interact throughout it, with singing and dancing along. My daughter is 2.5 and she would be happy to watch this 2 times a day.
–Watching over and over, in Cambridge MA
A: Dear Over and over,
Your daughter is right at the age where she can really learn from screen media. It is developmentally normal for her to want to watch the same movie over and over (and over and over) again—that’s how she masters the material. The scenario you describe is probably working well for your daughter for a few reasons:
- The content is developed to support prosocial learning. Part of what your daughter mastering is an understanding of how communities form and how people interact within them. Sesame Street portrays a society where all types of people and puppets from all types of backgrounds (religious, cultural, political) are able to form a successful, dynamic society. And, in fact, research has found that many children who watch Sesame Street exhibit gains in prosocial behavior, as well as in academic readiness and achievement and self esteem.
- You are watching with her. She learns from what she watches not only by processing what she sees on her own, but more importantly by processing it with you. You help her make sense of the content in ways that work with who she is and what interests her.
- You are interacting with the material. By dancing and singing along with the movie, you help move her learning beyond skills and drills and into complex communication. You are using the movie as a catalyst for the kinds of interactions and lessons you want her to learn.
In short, you are co-viewing developmentally optimal, research-based educational programming with your daughter in ways that encourage interaction with the material and with you—and that is likely to have a positive effect on your daughter’s academic and social skills. Just remember to make sure that it doesn’t get in the way of the other important things in her day, like sleep and unstructured play.
Enjoy your media and use them wisely,