Allowing your children to watch TV does not have to be a negative thing, although too much television time is indeed a problem. However, if screen time is limited and you have access to a good variety of quality children's programming, you may in fact be giving your child a head start in terms of learning. Fortunately, in the age of digital and satellite TV, television broadcasters are facing new regulations that will benefit parents and their children by requiring additional children's programming with the added-on channels that each independent broadcaster can maintain. Read on for suggestions of solid, recommended children's shows.
Public television has historically been an excellent forum for children, especially very young children under 6 years of age that are in a fast-paced developmental stage. PBS' Sesame Street is one of the longest-running, most highly acclaimed educational and entertaining children's programs, while major networks such as ABC and the Disney Channel also have strong children's programming. ABC has a digital channel called ABC2 that can be streamed in high definition online or can be accessed via satellite TV for subscribers. This digital-only national TV broadcast has been operating since 2005. Children should be able to enjoy the sharp picture provided by high definition programming, which is another reason why HD ABC2 is a good choice for your child.
Other popular children's programs with educational value alongside the entertainment factor include Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends, Barney and Friends, which deals mainly with personal relationships and self-esteem, and the long-running Blue's Clues, which has a heavy emphasis on counting, colors, shapes, and the alphabet for very young watchers. The Magic School Bus is television with a science twist for a slightly older audience, following the adventures of a science class and their crazy escapades under the direction of their wacky teacher. This program discusses advanced material, such as dinosaurs, the human body, and the makeup of the earth, in a fun and entertaining way - an ideal children's program. A longtime favorite that is no longer on the air is Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, also with a strong emphasis on friendship and character qualities such as honesty and kindness.
The Disney Channel was initially for a very young audience but has in recent years been programmed for an older, teenage demographic. These programs typically are in sitcom format and, while they may not contain much educational value, are wholesome shows that are age-appropriate, particularly for middle-schoolers that are beyond being interested in children's programming but are not quite at the level to watch teen dramas or other more mature material. Some of the popular Disney Channel programs in the past have included Boy Meets World, Sister Sister, and Naturally, Sadie. More current favorites are the hit show Hannah Montana, and The Jonas Brothers, both of which reach a mainly female audience in the preteen and early teenage range. Disney has stated that it is working on more male-oriented programming for the near future, while some of the popular children's programming includes Lilo & Stitch and Recess, both long-running Disney shows.