Friday, March 6, 2009


Now, any parent who has read any parenting magazines or any of the literature lying around the OBGYN office has heard that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television be watched by children under two. I have always been apprehensive about allowing my daughter to watch television. How much could I allow her to watch with out depreciating the time she spends doing something more constructive like using her imagination with toys or exploring the backyard? What kind of programming would have the most positive influence on her? I didn’t have a fair amount of faith in anything I had seen, not even when Noggin was first introduce to us when L was two years old.
I am sure most of us know of the children’s television station Nickelodeon. I believe the station began when I was a child. Think “You Can’t Do That on Television.” They expanded their programming with time slots they called Nick Jr. The Nick Jr. block aired programs geared towards pre-school and early elementary school aged children. While the Nickelodeon channel stills gives the Nick Jr. block to its viewers, the series shown progressed into being part of a separate channel called Noggin. Noggin is literally “Preschool On TV” (their slogan).

The first clip I saw on Noggin was from Yo Gabba Gabba. A green monster named Brobee was inviting carrots and green beans to a party in his tummy. The monster was an obvious person in a costume and the effects and background scenery was simplistic. But the “Party in my Tummy” song was so jammin’ it didn’t matter. That’s also where L got hooked to the station and Yo Gabba Gabba became on her favorite (and one of her father’s favorite) shows, along with Diego and Dora the Explorer (also aired on Noggin). The show has a very indie music/film feel to it.

Yo Gabba Gabba! (There's a Party in my Tummy !)
Uploaded by Materialiste

L turned three and began watching more and more television. It didn’t completely ease my concern, but at least all of the TV she was watching was on Noggin. I had come to know that ALL of the shows on Noggin were extremely educational and interactive. In fact, just in case you didn’t see the educational value while watching the shows, before each one a woman’s voice reiterates the list significance shown on the screen. For example, just before Little Bill, a Bill Cosby creation, comes on you are told that the show “enhances preschoolers’ social and interpersonal skills, helps build ethical values, and encourages an appreciation and understanding of community.” When I first saw these introductions I remember thinking that they were just ridiculous propaganda given to beef up the minimal lessons in the shows. Well, I knew I was wrong when L asked me to help her clean her room after watching the Wonder Pets. She said “It will be like teamwork,” teamwork being one of the main focuses of the show. Or how about when she told our puppy to jump in Spanish? I know enough Spanish to get by, but I didn’t know “salta.”

Currently L’s favorite show on Noggin is Lazy Town. Lazy Town is all about practicing healthy habits and improving yourself. Of the shows characters about half are puppets. The other half the main female protagonist eight-year-old Stephanie, bad guy Robbie Rotten, and Sportacus the superhero, are real people. Sportacus’ name says it all. He is extremely fit, exercises often, and always eats healthy (he calls fruits and vegetables sports candy). He and Stephanie show off their gymnastics moves while dancing to electronic music and singing about the day’s lesson. My daughter loves to get up and move with them.

Yet another great show on Noggin is Jack’s Big Music Show. Mary, Jack, his dog Mel, and other characters on the show are puppets that are in love with music. They hang out in Jack’s playhouse playing instruments, creating and exploring all kinds of different music. The show features music videos especially filmed for the episodes from children’s artists like The Laurie Berkner Band, Milkshake, and Music for Aardvarks. Sometimes the musicians even come into the playhouse with Jack and pals. Normally the featured bands are musicians whose careers are focused on making music for children, but every once in a while a broader spectrum is creating when they present artists like Nuttin’ But Stringz. Here is a video that my whole family absolutely loves. L even said she likes the way the violin sounds. The video is not great quality, but that can’t take anything away from the awesomeness of the music.

It isn’t just the shows that are interactive. Noggin is a mostly commercial free station. The only commercials you will see during the twenty-four hour a day, seven days a week preschool programming are for other shows on Noggin, Nick Jr. or Nickelodeon. These are commercials are placed between songs about seasons or animals, new word introductions, and something wonderful called Puzzle Time, all hosted by the same cartoon moose, named Moose A. Moose, and his bird friend Zee.

Puzzle Time is just what it sounds like. The moose introduces puzzles and asks the viewers to participate in solving them. He will ask about opposites and rhymes. He will ask you to choose which of the three figures is different or unique. He will ask how his friend Zee can get to a particular destination or ask for help following certain directions. He also asks for assistance in finding shapes, and I’m talking not just squares and circles. My daughter can tell you how many sides and octagon and a hexagon have from watching these puzzles. That is something I never would have thought to teach her on my own. Noggin gives me ideas on different concepts I can teach L.

L is almost four now. After expressing my many thoughts on how much television she was watching and how it takes away from time she could be spending exploring and/or using her imagination her father has cut back on the amount she watches. But when the TV is turned on she instantly asks if she can grab the remote control and turn the channel to “one two five,” Noggin. If she is going to watch TV I am content with her watching this channel. I just have to make sure addiction doesn’t set in (I have seen it creeping up). I strongly doubt that the children used in the study mentioned in an article titled “Watching TV no help to babies: study” were watching Noggin.

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