There has been some controversy over Sesame Workshop's introduction of the Sesame Beginnings line of DVDs aimed at kids 2 and under. Critics are upset that Sesame Workshop would try to get kids of that age in front of the TV and try to encourage "TV as a babysitter".
Gary E. Knell, president and CEO of Sesame Workshops, responds to some of those criticisms in the Washington Post today, and for the most part, I have no problem with his assertions that kids that age ARE watching TV and that it's simply being pragmatic for Sesame Workshops to produce age appropriate material. I have no doubt it's a business decision, but it's not a business decision that bothers me on any ethical front.
I applaud the emphasis the DVDs place on parent-child interaction. Watch some clips here to see for yourself. These DVDs almost seem more directed at parents than under 2s, showing ways to interact with your child in stimulating ways.
My question is whether or not these DVDs will really be all that appealing to the under 2s. At our school, we've seen that a suprising number of 2 year-olds and under don't respond so well to videos with puppets and anthropomorphic furry things. The majority prefer real live human faces or curious, non-humanesque (I don't care if that's a word, I'm going with it) oddities like the teletubbies and boohbahs.
I think the next step here is for Baby Einstein, Brainy Baby, etc. to follow Sesame Workshop's lead and produce DVDs more aimed at encouraging interaction, but using real parents and kids instead of muppets with less explication and simply more mimicable activities.
If you have kids and are watching the Sesame Beginnings DVDs, let me know what you think of them.
(hat tip to Tanja)