by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Good Use of Media, Kids, Parenting

With Instagram now declaring my daughters’ friends’ photos their own, sexting statistics nearing 1/3 of all those that text (for both adults AND KIDS) and unknown app developers churning out less than desirable apps at a staggering rate, do we even need to look further for New Year’s Resolutions.

While we spoke with The Online Mom’s Monica Villa back in the fall, we wanted to wait until the 1st of the New Year to supply you with her applicable info & necessary tips for our kids to be safe(r) as we begin a brand new year.


Several years ago, after picking up her daughter from a playdate, Monica learned that the 1st graders were introduced to the shoot ‘em up game of Halo during the playdate. At that moment she decided to dedicate her full time career to informing parents about the online world to keep kids smart and safe with all the new tech that they crave.

Let’s face it, the tools (or adaptations of them) will always be here. Monica spoke of a clinical PhD psychologist who, when asked about the effects of our tech culture, he responded,” What did you expect would happen when we gave teens these devices?”

The Online Mom spoke with us about parents’ limited window of opportunity for involvement, so we need to seize the teachable moments as they present themselves. One example would be during dinner time conversation where you can better understand their angle and hear definitive examples that are given in regards to online usage and behavior.

As a result of our conversation with Monica, here’s my family’s reinforcement plan as we enter the new year:

  1. Refrain from personal images and text on line
  2. Implement a safer browsing strategy
  3. Suppress YouTube via better controls   (great post from SecureMama on this subject as well)
  4. Setup an agreement or contract between you & your child so ground rules are set
  5. Use Filters to limit and/or catch problems before they occur 

Most importantly DO NOT assume that you can’t catch up or that the tech train has passed you by, Just do your homework, the info is out there

Thank you Monica & Happy New Year!!!

And don’t forget to join @theonlinemom and friends this Wednesday at 9pm ET as they chat about tech and family life.

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Parenting, Research Parents Should Know About!

I thought crying after dropping our girls off for school was reserved for the early days of September.

But here we are today, aching after dropping each daughter off.

My heart hurts in worry and fear of the unmentionable.

My heart breaks for those parents who, unknowingly, said their last goodbyes to their babies.

It’s all so wrong.

My anger, so raw, as I struggle to figure out what to do today and every day to protect.

To prevent.

To trust.

As Lisa Belkin said in Huff Post, “We can’t just grieve & hold our children close. We have to demand that our country earn the right to call itself a civilized nation..our central job as to keep our children safe. Make your demands heard”

As Fred Rogers said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers“.

The teachers & staff of Sandy Hook Elementary are my heroes.  They saved lives and put the emotional & physical well being of the children above their own.

I dreamt of Kaitlin Roig, the elementary school teacher who kept telling her students, as she kept them hidden, how special they were.  She wanted those words to be the last that they heard.  Fred would have been proud. And in the end, she kept them safe.

Six other adults spared their lives for the sake of the children. Real heroes who fought against evil.


Is it even a question that assault Weapons or Semi-Automatic Firearms have no place in civilized society? Stricter gun laws & the removal of illegal guns from our streets would undoubtedly assist the situation.

While assembling this post, I  finger the serial number that’s etched inside my Caliber bracelet..the same number that was on the gun used to create it. While I’m pleased to know that illegal guns were taken off the streets and transformed into something positive (& beautiful), it gives me a certain sense of pride knowing that a percentage of the money will fund Newark’s gun buyback programs (& beyond).

Will the Caliber Collection solve the gun violence issue? If it were only that simple. But it is a form of ACTION that HELPS.

We need people who put their strong beliefs into action. Through Jewlery for a Cause, Jessica Mindich has raised over $300,000 for some 300 schools & charities..that’ll do more good than plain old media verbiage.


As I ride my train into Grand Central, I pray for the families of Newtown and the heroes of Sandy Hook Elementary.

And I pray for my daughters to be safe and feel safe at school today and every day. Be well

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What do we want for our children?

I want my daughters to believe that they can do anything that they want to do..within reason.  I want my daughters to learn everything they need to know to go out into the world and make a difference.  I want them to learn, 1st & foremost, what will make them happy. Especially as an Executive Producer in Children’s TV, I am uber aware of the influence that media has on all of us, including my daughters.

“Kids spend nearly 55 hrs a week watching television, texting or playing video games.”  -The Daily Green

What they see & hear truly affects their view of the world.  I give careful thought to even the smallest details in my shows – what the characters eat, how they feel, what they do, which character traits go with which character, and whether or not they should be boys or girls.  It’s important to me that we don’t show our characters eating sugary snacks and cakes for a “special occasion” because, truth be told, it’s always a special occasion on a television show. In addition, one study found that 98% of food ads seen by children on top-rated shows were for junk food  –Health & US News

We know that boys are more reluctant readers, so we intentionally chose our main character, Super Why, to be a boy. We know that there are much fewer girls on television so we made our main character, Blue, a girl.  And we made sure that she didn’t have long eyelashes nor a cute little bow. She is blue. And she is a girl.

But when I look at media as a whole, for my own daughters, I worry. As much as I can talk with them and model for them the type of women I would like them to grow up to be, I find that in media, women are still typecast in traditional roles, while men are portrayed as the more dominant figures. Women are stereotypically represented as dependent and emotional. Women are the mothers, and men are the bread winners. Women are under represented in television about 3:1.

The fact that a majority of voice-overs on television are male, that there are more male news readers on TV & that many of the major film directors are men indicates that it is the male who has the authority & the control of the world of TV.” –Elena Beasley

This presents a male view of the world. When women are featured, their voices in commercials are often used to sell products such as laundry detergent, diapers & jewelry. And it should also comes as no surprise that advertisers typically use women as sex objects to sell a wide array of products.

We know there are no limits to what our children can do. So why are we feeding our children the idea of limits in the form of media?

And what can we do about it?

A lot.    [Thanks for joining us Bonbon Break friends!]


  1. Model behavior in your own lives that needn’t be so defined by gender

  2. Talk with your kids about such issues when opportunities present themselves in your day to day

  3. Limit the amount of questionable media our kids ingest..the same way in which we limit the amount of sugar they eat.

  4. Keep their dreams and expectations for themselves free and unrestrained

And I’ll do my part by continuing to write strong, smart female characters that create their own destinies!

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Kids, Parenting
(Continued from Yesterday’s Post, Fred Rogers’ Message from a Friend – Pt1)

Did you know Fred Rogers personally?
I got to know Fred personally when I met him in 1953. He took a keen interest in my well being, making sure I was not left alone too often & that my school work was being taken care of. Fred & Joanne were kind enough to have invited me to the home of Fred’s parents in Latrobe one day. It is a day I will never forget as the house was so beautiful and the grounds so spacious. Fred & I became very good friends and remained so throughout his entire life.

What impact, direct or indirect, did Fred Rogers have on your life?
I recall sitting in Fred’s office at WQED, just after I began my daily chores as office boy at the station. He & I talked at length about the various paths I might take in order to further my deep interest in TV. Fred explained in detail the routine he followed while working at NBC in NY as a stage manager on many of the top TV programs back in the early ’50’s. Through Fred & connections he made for me in NY, I was able to secure a position at NBC in their news department.

There will never be another Fred Rogers. All that I have today I owe to him, for having given me the chance of a lifetime to have been able to have worked beside him.

Which of Fred’s messages do you think are most important to pass along to the children of today?
From all of the many years I knew Fred & had the chance to spend in his company, he always led me to believe that he was sincerely interested in me and what I was trying to do in life. Fred always went beyond just talking to me as a friend & mentor, but seemed to sense my true insecurities as I was in many ways like him growing up…a very shy and sensitive kid. He always instilled in me a true feeling of support, love & encouragement and often told me how proud he was of all of my achievements throughout the years.

Children of today must have someone like Fred who stands behind them to offer that support, love, & encouragement. It is something that both my wife & I have tried to do in raising our 3 boys. It’s been tough at times, but having been touched by Fred Rogers in so many ways has given me something that’s been very precious to me. That’s the message I’m sure Fred would have wanted to pass along to the children of today.



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by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Parenting

With his reassuring tone & direct eye contact, Fred Rogers made every viewer believe he or she was special. He even paused long enough to “listen to” our responses, making us each feel like we knew him. But recently, I had the opportunity to speak with someone who actually did know & work with Fred personally. Joel Dulberg grants us a unique window into the past at WQED, where at the age of 16, he worked alongside Fred Rogers on his live show, The Children’s Corner. Joel explains the immense impact that Fred had on his life, & how even in a drastically different television landscape, Fred’s messages are still as, if not more, significant today.

How did you first get involved with WQED?
In late 1953, I read a small news article stating that Pittsburgh had been assigned an educational TV station, to be located in the offices of the Pitt. Plate Glass Company in Oakland. I immediately started to ride my bicycle every day from high school in Squirrel Hill to Oakland and camped out on the station steps. A woman named Marion Keating, the receptionist at the time, would yell at me almost daily to leave. One day, in the midst of her yelling, the GM of the station (William A. Wood), came out to see what was going on. I explained to him how badly I wanted to get into TV & that I hoped to become a cameraman one day. After going over a host of details as to my grades & availability to work at the station, he offered me the chance to “come inside”..& the rest is history.

Bill Wood took me around WQED & introduced me to the staff as the new office boy. He introduced me to Fred Rogers & Josie Carey who became immediate close friends & supporters of mine in my quest to work behind the cameras. Over the next couple of months, the WQED engineering staff trained me on the art of working a camera. By the time WQED went on the air for the 1st time on April 1, 1954, I was proud to have been 1 of the 2 cameramen working on the broadcast on that eventful night. In the days that followed, I worked on daily episodes of The Children’s Corner until I moved to NY with my parents in ’55.

— How do you think children’s TV production compares today?
There is no comparison in today’s world to those early developmental days when it comes to children’s TV production. First of all, we did not have any of the fantastical technical tools when it came to animation such as exist today. Children’s program budgets in those early days were almost non-existent. Fred once said that the total budget for The Children’s Corner was $150.00 a week… not much to work with! Secondly, the shows back in the late 40’s & early 50’s were all filmed live, so any mistake that took place were seen immediately by the TV audience.

Of more importance, however, was the fact that most early TV programming lacked so many of the teaching tools we now accept in today’s children’s productions. Most shows back then did little or nothing to help educate a child (WQED and The Children’s Corner aside, of course!). There is a much greater emphasis placed on learning than there was back then. Many of those early Saturday morning shows devoted to entertaining kids were, to put it mildly, “just plain silly”. That no longer is true from what I’ve been seeing of late.

(More on Fred Rogers’ impact on his friend, Joel Dulberg, Tomorrow)


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by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Kids, Parenting

Throughout our busy day to day, we often forget to express our gratitude to those we love. Especially as adults, we expect particular actions or behavior from certain people, so after a while it unfortunately becomes routine.

Instead of a robotic, sans emotion “Thank You”, try to show those that you love that you are thankful for what they do or who they are. Next week, my family works on a little project which creatively carries this Thanksgiving idea into the new year. To check it out, see my post in Moffly Media’s Greenwich Magazine, entitled, “The Importance of Thank You“.

..and Thank You

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Kids, Parenting, Uncategorized

Following Hurricane Sandy, we’re still without full power and internet access (outside of 3G) but we couldn’t wait any longer to post our Halloween Photo Contest Winner.

This year, our judges were we decided on 2 winners. Congratulations to Julie & Sarah’s little one’s for 2 most memorable pictures!! Prizes will be sent your way.

Thanks for joining in everyone & be safe out there!


by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Good Use of Media, Parenting

Long before Mitt Romney announced that he’d take a pass on federally funding PBS, there has been much back and forth on this issue. It’s prompted me to think about what the world would be like without PBS…because let’s face it, if it’s not assisted by the public, the agenda is different and it’s no longer the Public Broadcasting System.

I would not be who I am today without PBS.

Growing up, I honestly couldn’t sit any closer to the television when Mister Rogers Neighborhood was on. He inspired me to get my Masters Degree in Developmental psychology. He inspired me to think bigger and think different about what we could offer kid. I read study after study that talked about how if you “create content with the intent to teach” you could reach millions of people using television. “If a show is grounded in a strong educational curriculum, then kids will learn.” Study after study proved this to be true.

Sesame Street has had over 1,000 research studies proving its impact & effect. We have summative studies done by the University of Pennsylvania that statistically proved that kids who watched Super Why on PBS scored significantly better on standardized reading tests, than those who did not.  In fact, the effects were even BIGGER in lower-income households.

We were making a difference where it was needed the most.

What we found was that in order for young children to learn to read, they need multiple and sustained enriching experiences with language, storytelling, and early reading.

Preliminary evidence suggests that SUPER WHY! Not only engaged preschoolers (e.g., over 97% reported liking SUPER WHY!) but also provided critical instruction through its language & literacy enriching activities and lessons. Exposure to these activities and lessons enhanced preschoolers’ early literacy skills, resulting in learning the content directly featured in the program. The ultimate goal of learning, however, is to be able to successfully transfer information or skills acquired in one context to another context.

As parents, we see the effects of media every day.  Whether positive or negative, we see how much the media inspires our kids and ourselves to try something new, to use different vocabulary, or to be motivated to learn to read a book.

While such is true for children, the same also holds true in regards to older content. Offer information that educates and people are more likely to make smarter decisions that will behoove themselves and society.

So, what would the landscape look like without PBS?

[welcome, if you joined us from Bonbon Break!]

At the end of the day, children’s television producers at PBS go through a rigorous amount of vetting to ensure that their program is going to positively effect children. If it is a Ready to Learn property, producers sit in front of a board at the Department of Education, every year, and prove why the content works. We report on:

  • How many incidences of education per minute are in our show?
  • What is our basis of our education curriculum & strategy?
  • We must show proof from research studies that our shows are effectively teaching children through media.

We have strong advisory boards of the best teachers, educators and researches who all weigh in on our shows. In addition to this, the PBS Kids Executives also ensures that everything they air, meets their high standards as well. If we didn’t have PBS, show content would most likely veer more towards the side of entertainment than education.

As a preschooler, I learned through Mister Rogers that “there is only one I in the whole world” and that people like me “Just the way I am”.  I grew up inspired by PBS to bring learning, respect & a voice to kids everywhere.  If TV is a window into the world, then a world without PBS is one that I worry about.

by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Blue's Clues, Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, Kids, Parenting, Super Why!

Our Annual Halloween Photo Contest winner will receive a signed copy of my favorite Super Why! Halloween story.

To Enter:

  1. Simply LIKE my Facebook page if you haven’t yet (If you did already, Thank You & jump to #2)

  2. Send a photo to me at – Subject: “Boo

  3. If you tweet I entered my costumed lil’ pumpkin in @AngelasClues #Halloween giveaway! Check it out! submission will be entered twice

I’ll personalize a copy of my Super Why! Halloween story, “The Ghost Who Was Afraid of Halloween” for the winner and post their winning photo on my site (winner chosen on Halloween eve).

All decision making will be final & entirely up to the discretion of our Fearless Judges: Mr. Willy Wonka & Miss Veruca Salt:

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by: Angela Santomero | Filed under Kids, Parenting

International Day of the Girl is today, @ragazzabazaar informed me. I had no idea!

In honor of such a day, I came up with a list of 10 traits that I sooo desire my daughters to acquire along their journey.

1.   Keep An OPEN Mind

2.   Get Enough SLEEP

3.   Know How to BREATHE

4.   LAUGH..a lot

5.   Feed That BRAIN

6.   Embrace CHANGE

7.   LEARN from the mistakes

8.   SHARE Your Toys

9.   Be KIND

10. Know Who YOU Are & LOVE her to pieces!!

Surely I’m missing a few, comment away please & Happy Girl’s Day my sisters!