One of my favorite people in the whole world is David Kleeman, President of the American Center for Media and Children (hi, David!) With over 25 years in children's media, the man knows his stuff. His column in this week's Huffington Post is so right on on so many levels. When it comes to "educational" children's media, it's a claim that we all want to embrace, yet it's too often become a term that is misinterpreted and even abused.
Says Kleeman: "The gap between producers' claims of educational efficacy and a consistent standard for assessing those claims, especially for preschool media, is today's primary battleground in children's media. Every parent wants their children's investment in screen time to be worthwhile, so producers are happy to say their TV, DVDs, websites, toys and software are intellectually enriching. Sometimes, those claims reflect deep and thoughtful work to infuse beneficial content into a developmentally-appropriate format. Sometimes, they're little more than bait for busy, guilty parents."
Did somebody say busy, guilty parents? Whoops, I digress.
At any rate, Kleeman suggests what I think is a brilliant idea: a list of ingredients! "Responsible producers would detail their vision of the target audience, the developmental or cognitive elements they intended to address, their philosophy of how best to teach them, and how those elements are expressed in their creative approach. Parents could then evaluate whether the focus suits their child's specific needs, interests and abilities; whether the interface and presentation sound engaging and match their values; and whether the technology is worth the investment."
Honestly, I couldn't agree more. What do you think?