From what food they eat to how free time is spent, parents all over the world are constantly working to make the best choices for their children. One decision that causes many parents stress is how to incorporate screentime in a healthy, educational way. According to an article from MedlinePlus, kids in the United States spend an average of five to seven hours per day watching a screen. Dangers of too much screen time in young children include obesity, social problems, trouble learning, and even violence among many others. Even with these dangers in mind, in today’s modern world of online schooling and digital playdates there is virtually no way for many parents to completely keep their child away from the screen. This is why it is increasingly important to make sure that the screen time they are consuming is healthy, educational, and positively impacting their development.
Many parents are facing this struggle with their children and are tired of the uneducational, non interactive, online entertainment options available to them. If you’re looking for a better, healthier solution let us introduce you to the new generation of entertainment for kids: interactive shows. Keep reading to find out why interactive kids shows are the healthier, more educational option for children’s entertainment.
History of Kids TV and Entertainment
Since the first still image was transmitted over wire nearly 200 years ago, television and video entertainment have slowly evolved to what we experience today through cable tv, subscription services, streaming companies, and a wide variety of different sources. By the end of 1952, TV sets could be found in 20 million American households, and it was right around this time that children’s programming and cartoons could be found on multiple networks on Saturday mornings. Shows such as Kukla, Fran and Ollie and Howdy Doody relied on puppets to engage their audiences in the 1950s, and by the 1960s, cartoons such as Crusader Rabbit and The Flintstones were capturing the attention of their youngest audience members with funny animations.
A few shows that worked to improve the quality of entertainment for children in the late 1900s include Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and Sesame Street. Both of these shows began to air on televisions across the country in 1969, and made a huge impact on multiple generations. Sesame Street, in fact, is still a staple part of many children’s TV diets in 2021. There are three main reasons these two shows in particular withstood the test of time:
- They began to use entertainment and TV as a way to educate children on basic skills such as colors and how to share
- They focused on topics children were actually interested in and parents were proud to have their children watching
- Their characters and puppets were relatable and enjoyable for children to watch
Today’s most popular children’s shows, including Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig, have learned a lot from the success of Sesame Street and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. They use colorful, entertaining characters children love, they focus on relatable topics, and they educate children on a variety of topics like how to problem solve and say “thank you.”
It has been nearly 80 years since Fred and Wilma Flintstone first invited viewers into their animated, prehistoric home, yet the entertainment available to today’s children is eerily similar to the bright colored, fast paced, unengaging shows and cartoons of the 50s and 60s. While cartoons and other kids shows have made moves towards higher engagement and more educational content, parents are still faced with screen time options that do more harm than good.
The New Wave of Interactive Kids Shows
Considering the dangers of screen time often cited by professionals including obesity and social issues and the inevitability of children watching screens every single day fueled Beanstalk Founder Amy Molk to create a healthier, more educational, and truly engaging screen time option. The solution? Interactive kids shows.
Consider a world where you could have actually talked to Mister Rogers or Elmo while watching your daily cartoon as a child. Imagine if you had the opportunity to meet and talk to the other children from around the world also watching the show. Think about what it would have been like if your favorite character asked you what you wanted to do that day, and then actually did it on the show. These things we could only dream about as a child are now reality through interactive kids shows.
Why Interactive Kids Shows are the Healthiest Option
We all know that zombie-like, uninterruptible look kids get when they are sucked into a show on a screen. When a child logs on to watch an interactive show, on the other hand, they are actually drawn out of the screen and encouraged to interact with the world around them. Whether that is through building a space helmet with scrap materials from around their home before going on an imaginary galactic adventure, or moving their bodies and dancing while working together with the character to write an original song about dinosaurs and the prehistoric age, children are using their minds, imaginations, and bodies to learn real life skills through safe, healthy screen time.
As mentioned above, some of the main concerns surrounding screen time in young children include social issues, violence, obesity, and a decreased ability to learn. Interactive kids shows directly address these problems in a variety of ways, particularly through real human interaction and connection, encouraging and inspiring imagination and creativity, and exploring age-appropriate topics that are science-backed and supported by parents.
Real Human Interaction and Connection
A main pillar of a successful interactive kids show is safe interaction with live cast members, characters, and other children from around the world. There are many ways that this type of interaction impacts a child’s life such as:
- Increased social skills: Interacting with other people is obviously the best way to learn social skills. From taking turns and cooperating on ideas to curbing impulses and developing empathy, some skills can only be learned through real human interaction.
- Better language development: Practicing speaking and communicating with others is a main contributing factor to strong speaking skills as a child grows up. The more novel people that children communicate with the stronger their language and vocabulary skills will be.
- Enhanced creativity and imagination: Interacting with other people allows children to explore and experiment with various ideas and abstract thinking. Playing and learning with other children and adults gives kids the opportunity to gain new inspiration and insight, ultimately strengthening their creative skills and imagination.
According to child development expert Paul Schwartz, “friendships contribute significantly to the development of social skills, such as being sensitive to another’s viewpoints, learning the rules of conversation, and age-appropriate behaviors. More than half the children referred for emotional behavioral problems have no friends or find difficulty interacting with peers.”
Encouraging and Inspiring Imagination and Creativity
Developing a child’s imagination and creativity is another important pillar of interactive kids shows. As mentioned above, creativity and imagination are developed through real human interaction, but they are also developed through intentional play and learning opportunities. Young children primarily learn and communicate through play and exploration of the world around them. Interactive kids shows use this piece of knowledge to empower children to learn and enhance their creative and imaginative skills by creating fun activities and experiences. Creative play and use of the imagination impact a child’s life in many ways such as:
- Enhanced emotional development: Creative play such as painting, drawing, or building allows children to express emotions and feelings and tell a story without the pressure to use words they might not even know yet.
- Strong social development: Imagination and creative play break down social walls and stereotypes in a very unique way. Playing dress-up, singing, or dancing with other children helps kids learn how to successfully interact and play with peers regardless of things that might typically separate them such as socioeconomic status, race, or background.
- Powerful intellectual development: Unique opportunities for problem solving come up through creative play and use of imagination. This teaches children how to use available resources to come up with the solution they need.
- Immense physical development: Fine and gross motor skills are used throughout creative play. Whether a child is dancing and tapping their toe to keep the rhythm of the music or using scissors to safely cut out a circle, they are learning about their bodies in a fun, engaging way.
Age Appropriate, Science-backed, and Parent Approved Topics
The subject matter of the shows kids watch plays a huge role in the violence and lack of social skills that comes from too much screen time. That’s why age appropriate and science-backed topics and themes are the third important pillar of healthy, interactive kids shows. Healthy content created by child development experts has many impacts on a child’s life such as:
- Age appropriate interests: When children are introduced to topics or situations that are not appropriate for their age or development such as violence, they might be likely to have behavior problems and experience more fears. On the other hand, children introduced to topics that are appropriate for their age are more likely to develop an interest in these topics.
- Developmental assistance: Content created specifically for children by child development experts is more easily enjoyed by and absorbed by children. Parents do their best to help their children develop, but it’s nearly impossible to hit every developmental milestone exactly right. Content created by child development experts can help bridge these gaps. Ultimately, well curated content can help parents rest easy knowing that their child is experiencing and soaking up developmentally appropriate and educational media.
- Learning by doing: The hands-on, child-led activities and experiences created by child development experts help kids learn by actually participating, not just watching. This teaches them to take ownership of their education and to explore the world around them.
What it’s Like for your Child to Participate in an Interactive Kid Show
Unlike the traditional kids entertainment setting where children lay or set on a couch while zoning in on the screen of a television or iPad, interactive kids shows encourage kids to lean in and participate while interacting with the show’s cast and characters as well as other participants.
While watching an interactive kids show, your child will likely experience the following interactive moments:
- Supervised “free time” to chat with other children watching the show
- A personalized “hello” from a cast member or character
- An opportunity to share something that is on their mind with the cast member and other participating children
- The ability to give feedback and share ideas about the activity they are doing such as suggesting a question to ask the topic expert we are interviewing, make a sound to go into the song we are writing, or choosing a color the cast member will use to paint part of the picture we are creating.
Children who participate in interactive kids shows feel seen and known by the live cast members and characters who express real interest in their opinions and feelings. Again, think back to your childhood and imagine if you could have shown off your beloved stuffed animal or new baby sibling to your favorite TV character or if that character asked for your opinion when trying to solve a problem. That is exactly what interactive kids shows offer your child.
How Your Child Can Watch an Interactive Kids Show Today
If you’re looking for a healthy screentime that helps your child develop physically, mentally, and emotionally all while having fun, Beanstalk’s live, interactive kids shows are the place for you. Follow these simple steps to get started:
- Visit Beanstalk.co to learn more and see an example of an interactive kids class.
- Create your free trial account to experience the magic for yourself.
- View our library of upcoming live, interactive kids shows and find one that peeks your child’s interest. From STEM, art, and music, to movement, exploration, and adventure, you are sure to find an option your child will love.
- When it’s showtime, join us LIVE!
Interactive Kids Shows are the Future of Kids Entertainment
Avoiding screen time entirely is nearly impossible in today’s digital age, so Beanstalk is working hard to create a healthy, educational, interactive option that all parents can feel good about and all kids can enjoy. Fighting typical screen time problems such as violence, obesity, and developmental delays through developing real human connection, inspiring creativity and inspiration, and providing age appropriate content is Beanstalk’s main focus and mission. Join us as we bring technology and entertainment together for the betterment of future generations.