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Research Parents Should Know About!

Just in time, towards the end of our presidential election, our Wishenpoof Music Videos debuted this week, and as the lyrics state,

It all comes down to me, to be the best person that I can be.  I need to…Believe in Me.”

It dawned on me today that these lyrics underscore my entire career and why I create positive media for kids.  I want to give them the skills and the encouragement to change the world, and nourish them against the bad modeling that surrounds them on a daily basis, that goes beyond election time. AAP

Last week, The American Academy of Pediatrics, retracted it’s guidelines for toddlers & screen time saying it’s all about content, context and co-viewing.  The idea that the “interaction” of live video chat has a potentially positive effect even on babies, plays to my strength in the value of creating media that actively involves the home viewer to think along, sing-along, learn-along and master the skills we put on the screen.  If babies are benefiting from this type of interaction, imagine what we are doing for older kids when we create media that is specifically for them, that asks them to play along? In fact, according to Linebarger and Walker (“Infants’ and Toddlers’ Television Viewing and Language Outcomes”, 2005), “The recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics (1999) urging parents to avoid TV for children younger than 2 years old may be premature. The authors go on to state not only do these results further provide evidence that “television matters” (e.g., Anderson et al., 2001; Wright et al., 2001), it’s the interactive format that is the tipping point.  Formats such as “speaking directly to the viewer, providing opportunities to respond, and using and defining vocabulary words”.  Blue's CLuesThe interactive and participatory nature of all my shows, starting in 1996 with “Blue’s Clues” (Nick Jr), where Steve or Joe speak directly to the child were positively related to “expressive language production and vocabulary”, according to Linebarger.  Another Blue’s Clues study by my mentor, Dr. Dan Anderson, et al, has purported that regular viewers of Blue’s Clues benefit from a strengthened cognitive development,  Anderson states, “Blue’s Clues doesn’t only do well, but does good.”

By now, we can’t argue that kids do, in fact, learn from media, good and bad.  As the AAP states, it is all about content.   What we need to look for is the type of content that has the intent to teach – kind of like looking for “organic produce” or checking the labels of food to see what is exactly in there.  If you could “check the labels” of media, we want to look for the shows that are founded in curriculum, that does research, that understands what is put on the screen has enormous impact on the brains of the next generation. I guess because I’m such a research nerd, I’m more proud of the research and learning that has come out of each of my shows than the Peabody wins or Emmy nominations. Super Why, our long running PBS Kids show is grounded in what the National Reading Panel deems critical to reading success, and has thus been proven to teach kids to read.   The Annenberg study, which was headed by Deborah L. Linebarger, Ph.D., Director of the Annenberg Children’s Media Lab, determined whether young viewers learned the key early literacy content in the show, such as letter names and sounds, rhyming, and matching spoken words to print and whether they applied their learning in their daily lives.  Dr. Linebarger has said, “The format of Super Why! provides kids with an engaging platform that fosters literacy skills, resulting in learning the content featured in the program as well as applying that content to other contexts.”

New research out of University of Texas has come out to support that Daniel Tiger (PBS KIDS) “America’s favorite tiger” helps kids with social emotional skills, social cues and problem solving strategies with our very sticky musical jingles (come on, I know you know our potty song!).  In addition, as mentioned in the AAP report today, co-viewing is also important. Anecdotally we have heard about these results for a long time, as documented in the New York Times, Motherlode column in 2015, “Daniel Tiger Becomes a Boy with Autism’s Guide to Social Life” as well in our own formative research.

 

But most importantly, in terms of combining the big three – content, context and co-viewing, how can we, as parents, use media to help our kids understand the world and fare better as adults in it?  This is what keeps me up at night.  In light of the negative modeling of this election, I for one, want all kids to master positive executive functioning skills  – among them, how to get along in the world, be empathetic, take other’s perspectives, be kind, fair, smart and ultimately, “be good people.” Wishenpoof (Amazon Kids, is created to give kids life skills through the stories on the show and through big beautiful, empowering anthems (as cited above with the new “Believe in Me” video). Incorporating Ellen Galinsky’s Mind in the Making, 7 Essential Skills, the life skills that every child needs, according to Lisa Belkin of Motherlode in 2010.

I personally, want kids to grow up believing in themselves, and believing that what they say matters and how their voice can actually change the world.  That’s why each of my shows has been interactive – – our characters are listening, and care what kids have to say. I want to motivate kids, give them a sense of self worth, and give them a voice.

Perhaps we’re hearing the opposite from a particular Presidential candidiate during this Presidential election process?

xo

Angela

I’d love to hear from you on this below or via Facebook. What traits would you like your child to acquire & do you think the media they’re digesting will assist them in this process. Hmm?

 

Just in time, towards the end of our presidential election, the first Wishenpoof Music Video debuted this week, and as the lyrics state,

It all comes down to me, to be the best person that I can be.  I need to…Believe in Me.”

It dawned on me today that these lyrics underscore my entire career and why I create positive media for kids.  I want to give them the skills and the encouragement to change the world, and nourish them against the bad modeling that surrounds them on a daily basis, that goes beyond election time. AAP

Last week, The American Academy of Pediatrics, retracted it’s guidelines for toddlers & screen time saying it’s all about content, context and co-viewing.  The idea that the “interaction” of live video chat has a potentially positive effect even on babies, plays to my strength in the value of creating media that actively involves the home viewer to think along, sing-along, learn-along and master the skills we put on the screen.  If babies are benefiting from this type of interaction, imagine what we are doing for older kids when we create media that is specifically for them, that asks them to play along? In fact, according to Linebarger and Walker (“Infants’ and Toddlers’ Television Viewing and Language Outcomes”, 2005), “The recommendation by the American Academy of Pediatrics (1999) urging parents to avoid TV for children younger than 2 years old may be premature. The authors go on to state not only do these results further provide evidence that “television matters” (e.g., Anderson et al., 2001; Wright et al., 2001), it’s the interactive format that is the tipping point.  Formats such as “speaking directly to the viewer, providing opportunities to respond, and using and defining vocabulary words”.  Blue's CLuesThe interactive and participatory nature of all my shows, starting in 1996 with “Blue’s Clues” (Nick Jr), where Steve or Joe speak directly to the child were positively related to “expressive language production and vocabulary”, according to Linebarger.  Another Blue’s Clues study by my mentor, Dr. Dan Anderson, et al, has purported that regular viewers of Blue’s Clues benefit from a strengthened cognitive development,  Anderson states, “Blue’s Clues doesn’t only do well, but does good.”

By now, we can’t argue that kids do, in fact, learn from media, good and bad.  As the AAP states, it is all about content.   What we need to look for is the type of content that has the intent to teach – kind of like looking for “organic produce” or checking the labels of food to see what is exactly in there.  If you could “check the labels” of media, we want to look for the shows that are founded in curriculum, that does research, that understands what is put on the screen has enormous impact on the brains of the next generation. I guess because I’m such a research nerd, I’m more proud of the research and learning that has come out of each of my shows than the Peabody wins or Emmy nominations. Super Why, our long running PBS Kids show is grounded in what the National Reading Panel deems critical to reading success, and has thus been proven to teach kids to read.   The Annenberg study, which was headed by Deborah L. Linebarger, Ph.D., Director of the Annenberg Children’s Media Lab, determined whether young viewers learned the key early literacy content in the show, such as letter names and sounds, rhyming, and matching spoken words to print and whether they applied their learning in their daily lives.  Dr. Linebarger has said, “The format of Super Why! provides kids with an engaging platform that fosters literacy skills, resulting in learning the content featured in the program as well as applying that content to other contexts.”

(continue..)

Most parents will admit a little unease about raising their child(ren) within this digital age. But sitting on the sidelines with a myriad of unanswered questions will only worsen our concerns and will leave our kids in harms way. Yet again, the answer is in education. Well, last night, WQED aired the Like, Follow, Share episode of  iQ: smartparent. If you missed it, I’ve attached it below.

In this episode, we discussed common parental concerns of raising a child in a digital environment, one that relies so heavily on Social Media. I spoke with Caroline Knorr (Common Sense Media‘s parenting editor), Kelly Kochamba (Primary Media Representative & Community Outreach Specialist for the FBI Pittsburgh Field Office) and Rick Wallace (Director of Special Operations/Global – National Security Analyst) to get varied perspective on what we can do to keep our kids safe within this sea of tech.

Check it out and I would love to hear your feedback on the issue.

xo

Angela

 

 

Children and teens are using social media to define and share their personal narratives. When there is no “delete” button on Facebook or other social platforms, what story does your child’s online identity tell, now and into the future? What does it mean to be a good digital citizen? Join us for an eye-opening discussion on how parents and children can have safe and positive experiences online.

WQED

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

I had spoken with Ana Flores of Spanglishbaby.com about the importance of raising multilingual children. Her passion and her expertise was quite evident.  It was also nice to see a similar philosophy between the two of us.  While my goal has been to educate children through media, my philosophy is grounded in the belief that you must inspire kids and immerse them into the world of education, at their level, and not force the material. The desire to learn is far more important than anything else.

  In similar fashion, Ana believes that a parent who shares their native language in the home and surrounds them with the language, is supplying them with immense benefits..much more than previously thought, I found out.  We also dispelled a few myths and talked about it’s positive effects on literacy skills! Check out our interview (and our instant bond) on PBS’s The Parent Show!

 

2015 Parents' Choice Awards

The Parents’ Choice Awards help parents make informed decision. This time around, they’ve given gold medals to PBS Kids’ Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Amazon Studios’ Creative Galaxy!!

Picture1
The Parents’ Choice Awards provide a service to the millions of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and caregivers all over this country who are time-pressed and simply don’t have even a moment to pre-screen every product they give the kids in their lives. Since 1978, this is where the Parents’ Choice resource has stepped in.Screenshot 2014-08-04 13.58.18

Needless to say, we are proud and honored to be listed among their Spring 2015 award winners!

“The Parents’ Choice Gold Awards are given to those books, toys, games, videos, software, magazines, audio recordings, and television programs that are judged as the highest quality, most appealing products in their genre. Criteria for judgments include the highest production standards, universal human values and a unique, individual quality that pushes the product a notch above others.”

-Parents’ Choice

co-viewing

We love hearing from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood fans and many parents have been reporting that the strategies featured in each episode are not just helpful for their preschoolers, but also useful tools in their adult lives! References to the original Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood series draw parents to the Daniel Tiger series as much as their toddlers. Whether parents remember the original “Daniel Striped Tiger” puppet that Fred held in his show, or have a special place in their hearts for the original red trolley (Ding! Ding!), there are little nods to Fred’s series throughout Daniel’s animated Neighborhood of Make-Believe. This affinity by parents is likely to lead to greater occurrences of co-viewing.

It is our hope that these co-viewing habits spark conversations about Daniel’s struggles and triumphs around the dinner table, before bed or anywhere it’s helpful.Apple Family Sharing logo

 

According to Demers et al. (2012), “infant television viewing is greatly impacted by co-viewing, in that infants’ gaze and attention directly follows that of their parents.” Children put greater emphasis on content that their parents pay attention to. One positive consequence of this is that young children, mimicking the viewing behavior of their caregivers, will start to pick up on salient cues – a skill that is useful both with television viewing (higher comprehension of the episodes), and with other aspects of everyday life (picking out salient cues in our everyday environments, while ignoring distractions).

Not only is immediate viewing behavior (eyes on screen) affected by parental influence but, more importantly, off-screen time is also affected. Parents who co-view programs can then incorporate the lessons and themes from the episodes into their child’s daily routines. When this “take away” message is incorporated and applied to the child’s real world surroundings, that’s when the benefits of quality content really shine!

So pull up a seat, you might be surprised what quality content (in appropriate amounts) can do for everyone!

Co-Viewing

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

Difficult conversation with your child

Superheroes with the power to read, salt and pepper shakers that talk and toe tapping strategy songs are a large part of my day. They serve as a means to help preschoolers share, cooperate and enjoy their environment that they are a part of.

So, how do we talk to kids about the not so enjoyable..the troubling and scary events that occur in the real world?

Less is more.

The best course is to answer the questions in a clear, concise way. Don’t offer up extra information. And for the very little ones, it’s best to shield them from what’s happening all together (an easy way to do this is to avoid having the news on when they’re in the room).

As kids move into grade school, they are much more aware of the world outside of themselves. They also have great difficulty understanding the distance between that world and themselves. How they see the world will depend on how we, as parents, help to paint the picture.

When it comes to the tragedies that they’ll inevitably hear about, it’s best to focus on the facts and what you can do to help. One of the workers at my daughter’s school lost a large portion of his family in an earthquake. We talked about it as a family and focused on what we could do to help. My daughter wrote a letter telling him how sorry she was and we helped collect food and supplies for the people affected. The worst part of these situations for kids is their feeling of powerlessness, so enabling them to take control by being proactive about helping is important.

Sarah Solves It

 

Here are 3 more tips to help you talk to your kids about topics you may tend to avoid:

  1. Listen first, then talk. With the less is more philosophy, listening to our children in an empathetic, interested way is of utmost importance. Find out what they want to know, what questions they have, and take cues from the way they are talking. Do they want a hug? Reassurance?  Answers?
  2. Be truthful, calm and explain the situation. If children ask about a specific situation, such as natural disasters, a good answer is: “Yes, this was a terrible tragedy but it is very unlikely that it would happen here. We prepare ourselves for emergencies such as these. We have a lot of people whose job it is to keep us safe.” Even kids as old as twelve need to be reassured.
  3. Make them feel safe. Many specialist’s believe that it’s better to apologize and explain if an improbable, traumatic event does occur rather than have kids live with the fear that something “could” happen. PBS does an excellent job of explaining the science of tsunamis, earthquakes and the improbability of it happening to us on Savage Earth.

 

Please share some communication tips that have helped your little ones feel more secure after a difficult time, because we’re all in this together!   

 

 

Panic Disorder

When I was growing up, my sister would talk about things that would enrage her and then half jokingly say about me, “He just doesn’t care. He couldn’t care less”. That was my rap.

Fact of the matter is, I wished that was true. I did care..too much.

I was a worrier growing up..grades, friends, social situations, etc. I did well across the board, so I guess I did a good job of hiding it. At the time, that was something I thought I was supposed to do. Keep the armor on & keep barreling forward. Fortunately, unbeknownst to family & friends, I sought the help I needed after my first, full-on panic attack. 

This is 1 trait I’d rather not share with my kids, so I recently spoke with a good friend of mine to get some more info on the subject.

Subway by Paul Cooper

 

Barbara was on a crowded NYC subway 20 years ago and began to feel dizzy. She was a fun, free spirited girl, in her early thirties but she began to imagine herself fainting somewhere along her routine commute. For no logical reason she spiraled downward into the darkest, most unnerving place that she ever found herself in. She wondered what would happen to her. Who would find her? Would someone assist or take advantage of her situation? Her heart was beating at least twice its normal rate.

Drenched in sweat, she wondered, “Aren’t I too young for a heart attack?!”

The next day Barbara felt better taking a less crowded train 15 minutes earlier. With the feeling creeping back again the next day, she caught an even earlier train. The pattern grew over the years to the point where she was leaving 2 hours earlier than necessary to sweep her panic under the rug. Even though Barbara successfully graduated college, was happily married & had kids, there was an odd sense of impending doom that seemed to follow her. Mundane tasks such as standing in the checkout line at the supermarket or driving alone began to cause her anxiety.

After many agonizing years & thousands of dollars wasted on misdiagnoses, Barbara finally found an informed cognitive behavioral therapist. A recovered phobic himself, the psychiatrist eventually taught Barbara how to meet these bouts with panic head so that she could move on with her life. This was the start of her road to recovery.Panic Bttn

 

Years later, having learned a great deal from her experience, she decided to help others that share such experiences. Today she is one of a few hands on therapists that go out “into the field” with her clients to control their emotional disorders. I spoke with Barbara about this crippling illness which silently affects so many people.

(continue with this post..)

Panic Disorder

When I was growing up, my sister would talk about things that would enrage her and then half jokingly say about me, “He just doesn’t care. He couldn’t care less”. That was my rap.

Fact of the matter is, I wished that was true. I did care..too much.

I was a worrier growing up..grades, friends, social situations, etc. I did well across the board, so I guess I did a good job of hiding it. At the time, that was something I thought I was supposed to do. Keep the armor on & keep barreling forward. Fortunately, unbeknownst to family & friends, I sought the help I needed after my first, full-on panic attack.

This is 1 trait I’d rather not share with my kids, so I recently spoke with a good friend of mine to get some more info on the subject.

Subway by Paul Cooper

 

Barbara was on a crowded NYC subway 20 years ago and began to feel dizzy. She was a fun, free spirited girl, in her early thirties but she began to imagine herself fainting somewhere along her routine commute. For no logical reason she spiraled downward into the darkest, most unnerving place that she ever found herself in. She wondered what would happen to her. Who would find her? Would someone assist or take advantage of her situation? Her heart was beating at least twice its normal rate.

Drenched in sweat, she wondered, “Aren’t I too young for a heart attack?!”

The next day Barbara felt better taking a less crowded train 15 minutes earlier. With the feeling creeping back again the next day, she caught an even earlier train. The pattern grew over the years to the point where she was leaving 2 hours earlier than necessary to sweep her panic under the rug. Even though Barbara successfully graduated college, was happily married & had kids, there was an odd sense of impending doom that seemed to follow her. Mundane tasks such as standing in the checkout line at the supermarket or driving alone began to cause her anxiety.

After many agonizing years & thousands of dollars wasted on misdiagnoses, Barbara finally found an informed cognitive behavioral therapist. A recovered phobic himself, the psychiatrist eventually taught Barbara how to meet these bouts with panic head so that she could move on with her life. This was the start of her road to recovery.Panic Bttn

 

Years later, having learned a great deal from her experience, she decided to help others that share such experiences. Today she is one of a few hands on therapists that go out “into the field” with her clients to control their emotional disorders. I spoke with Barbara about this crippling illness which silently affects so many people.

 

Thanks for talking with me Barbara. Since panic disorder seems to creep up out of nowhere to affect people, do you feel that it’s genetic, a learned behavior or what?

Personally, I feel I was somewhat predisposed to my condition. My parents were very overprotective. I didn’t label them as “phobic” but they had their tendencies. Thinking about it now, my mother & a few of my aunts never liked to drive. There doesn’t need to be a family history of socially induced disorder for a person to be afflicted with the illness, but I have undoubtedly seen a pattern within many of my clients.

So talking about it with one’s family is important?

Yes, but people are quite resistant to talk about it..embarrassed, which strengthens the fear as well. A person that’s susceptible to panic should really attempt to talk with parents, uncles and aunts to see if they’ve had similar feelings. There’s usually a common thread. See what they remember, even if they’ve never labeled it as panic disorder. Especially since there are so many undiagnosed conditions that people, not simply, live with.

I guess it’s nice to have company too..

Sure, it’s comforting when feelings can be validated. People that experience episodes of panic often think that they’re going crazy or are told by others that it’s all in their head, so “Get over it”. That’s why it’s so helpful to find a supportive group that share similar experiences. It’s really difficult to face this alone.

Panic2

Where do you think all of this stems from? As you said earlier, it seems to come out of nowhere.

While no one knows for certain, most of the time there’s a connection with a very difficult situation or traumatic event that happens to that person. That negative experience seems to trigger “something” which the mind has a tough time processing.

The 1st time a person experiences severe panic in a particular situation, it translates into extreme fear. The problem is when the person runs from what they THINK is causing this fear (i.e. public speaking, bridges, etc.) & the brain begins to believe, “I felt better because I got away from what I was afraid of.” So naturally they begin to stay away from that which they’re afraid of..strengthening the monster they’re running from. It’s a snowball effect. And just as nobody forgets their first sexual experience, the same is true with a person’s first panic..they NEVER forget it.

Are there any similarities among the people that you’ve helped with these issues?

To me, it seems like people that are more susceptible fall under the creative type. A lot of Type A personalities..control freaks but various professions: lawyers, quilt makers, doctors, artists. But ALL I’d say were high stress, worriers “what if’ing”. Worrying about the outcome before they’re even in the situation. And I’d say the majority of them are people pleasers.

Any common age?RollerCaoaster

40 seems like the magic number for some reason. Many have tendencies when they’re between their teens & late twenties, but they don’t seem to surface until they reach their late 30s. They most likely experience small episodes when they’re younger but they don’t know what’s happening. They have a difficult time labeling it or choose not to confront it via drugs or alcohol.

 

When someone is experiencing episodes of panic, what do you think is the best course of action to take.

  1. Exposure, exposure, exposure! 95% of psychiatrists don’t go out with their patients, but I feel it’s integral for them to overcome their condition.

  2. The overall goal is to know that the fear will not eat you up & you will get to the other side of the anxiety. I do this through small, manageable steps which demystify what it is that the person fears.

  3. Since most anxiety is anticipatory in nature (regarding some future experience), I try to get my clients to be mindful of the actual action that’s occurring NOW instead of obsessing about the fear alone.

 

Thanks Barbara for your time & expertise.

Anytime. I’m happy to know I can assist people to move forward with their lives!

 

If you’d like to get in touch with Barbara, send us your contact info & we can pass it along to her.

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

SuperWhy

Reading

“Children who watched SUPER WHY! on PBS Kids scored 46% higher on standardized tests than those who did not watch the show.”

 

SUPER WHY! has been successful in supporting learning in a highly engaging environment.”

Children’s Media Lab
Annenberg School for Communication
University of Pennsylvania