Children Now has a report out on educational/informational programming, and they start right out by claiming the E/I initials would more accurately stand for educationally/insufficient. According to a study of 120 episodes of 40 different programs listed by broadcasters to satisfy their children’s E/I quotas, 13% were rated highly educational, compared to 23% that were only minimally educational. 63% fell in the middle, the moderately educational category.
In its summary, CN notes, "When only one in eight E/I episodes is highly educational and nearly twice as many are deficient in educational merits; when few broadcasters offer more than the bare minimum of programming and confine their entire E/I schedule to one or two days of the week; when more than one-quarter of E/I shows model harmful violent or socially aggressive behavior; and when the vast majority of programs contain no basic academic or health-related lesson, it is difficult to see how broadcasters’ efforts are sufficiently serving the educational needs of the nation’s children."
"This evidence suggests that the nation’s children are being short-changed by broadcasters," said CN’s Christy Glaubke."This is clearly a missed opportunity to help support the educational development of the nation’s children."
Children’s Now is appalled that almost twice as many programs fall into the worst category as opposed to the best, and that 86% are less than they might be.
RBR/TVBR observation: Couldn’t we see this glass as mostly full, rather than mostly empty? You could look at these very same numbers and say that 76% of children’s programming on broadcast outlets is at the very least moderately educational. That’s over three out of every four shows — way higher than it was when we were children.
Let’s face it – although we still to this day love our spinach, there wasn’t much more educational material in a Popeye cartoon, unless you think that eating spinach and then immediately resorting to extremely violent methods of conflict resolution is a good thing for children to learn.
We’ll make two additional comments in our role as parents. When we want our children to learn and to generally improve their minds, we prefer reading and active play to ANY form of television. Not that there aren’t ample alternatives to commercial broadcast fare, on PBS and in the basic cable universe. Children’s programming options are unlimited nowadays, compared to the not-so-recent past. Frankly, we wish there were times when there is no children’s programming on, educational or otherwise, so they get used to finding something else to do without our prodding.