Monday, June 2, 2008

TV Tuesday: Teletubbies


There is only one show that can hold the attention of all three of my children for a full half hour. This is a crucial half hour, the one at the end of a particularly hectic day, when I have determined that there is almost no chance of getting dinner on the table unless I can find something to hold the attention of all three of my children.

Time for Teletubbies! Time for Teletubbies!

Teletubbies is geared toward very young children, with lots of bright colors and repetition, repetition, repetition. The main characters--Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa, and Po--are actually similar to toddlers in many ways, from their body shape to their limited language skills.

From an educational standpoint, it’s hard to say if this show is helpful, harmful, or benign.

According to the PBS Kids Web site,
"Teletubbies encourages development of cognitive, social/emotional, and physical skills through activities that explore themes like recognizing letters, numbers and shapes; thinking critically; recognizing emotions; building self-confidence; and developing balance and coordination."

On the other hand, there is some controversy surrounding the Teletubbies’ garbled toddler-like speech. Some experts think it might be detrimental for children who are just learning to speak, not to mention annoying for parents whose four-year-olds suddenly start using baby talk.

After a two-year study of infants and toddlers, Dr. Deborah Linebarger wrote in Literacy Today that “watching Teletubbies was negatively related to both vocabulary size and expressive language use.”

Eh-oh.

Based on my own two-year study of watching Teletubbies, I’d have to concede that this show scores low on educational value. But, I always shoot for that lofty goal of all things in moderation. Viewed on an occasional basis, the Teletubbies aren’t likely to impact your child’s educational future.

1 comment:

Torrie said...

and don't forget the other teletubby controversy... that one of them is "in the closet". I'm sure there are many other subconscious messages in this highly intelligent show.