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Essay: Interview of Susan Thomas

Sample Essay

In an interview with ‘Brandweek’, she eloquently mentioned that “Babies and toddlers have become the youngest consumers in American history. And this has happened over the past decade via the introduction of screened media designed for them in the form of videos, DVDs and “educational” television programming.

This was designed and marketed with the idea that they were educational for children between the ages of 0-to-3. But what was lacking was any kind of research under-girding their shows. I was really surprised to learn there was virtually no research on how infants and toddlers even process screened media much less what they might be learning when they watch it… The [nascent] conclusions of the tenured academic researchers–not Disney for example, but real academics–was that the only thing that toddlers seemed to be getting out of this so-called educational programming, like Dora the Explorer, Blues Clues, Sesame Street, was character recognition. They didn’t seem to be grasping the underlying narrative of these shows. They didn’t seem to be grasping any academic lessons that were advanced, or the social messages.” (‘Is Elmo Evil? Book Says Babies Are Brainwashed’, 2007) She mentioned the reason for the decrease in the ages and the increase in the brand consciousness of the children. “It’s being compressed down to ever younger ages because of the idea that these characters have some inherent educational value.

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