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MAIN Arrow to Art & Culture Art &... Arrow to Pop Culture Pop Culture Arrow to TelevisionKids' Educational TV

children watching televison"Hey, kids! It's Howdy Doody time!" was the refrain for one of the most early TV shows for children.

Other most-watched children's programming in the 1950's incuded The Mickey Mouse Club, Looney Tunes, and Tom & Jerry cartoons.

By the 1960's, the hippie movement and social consciousness brought about a revolution in kids' educational TV programming -- with the premiere of Sesame Street -- as Jim Henson and the Muppets helped make the ABC's and even math concepts "go down more like ice cream than spinach."

50's kids shows
Before the revolution of children's educational television, popular favorites of the 1950's included
The Howdy Doody Show, Looney Tunes cartoons, and The Mickey Mouse Club.

early educational TV
By the late 1960's Sesame Street introduced "edutainment" TV, kicking off The Electric Company
(starring a young Morgan Freeman, top center) and Reading Rainbow, starring actor LaVar Burton.

With it's instant success on PBS, imitators like The Electric Company and Reading Rainbow were spawned to reach and teach a whole new generation of toddlers addicted to edutainment television.

By the 1980's, toy companies got into the lucrative children's TV game with entries that were actually thinly-disguised commercials for their toys and action figures, such as the wildly popular He Man and the Masters of the Universe and She Ra, Princess of Power, And that's not to forget The Smurfs, and Challenge of the GoBots.

A decade later, the US Congress passed the Children's Television Act and networks were required to demonstrate that their programming slates included educational material. The result was another renaissance in children's programming with the introduction of popular hits such as Dora the Explorer, The Backyardigans, and Blues Clues.

In the years to come, the kids' TV evolution continued with Wonder Pets and "Ni Hao, Kai-Lan".

educational TV
Passed in 1990, the Children's Television Act helped further the quality of kids' programming resulting
in such popular hits as "Dora the Explorer" and later "Wonder Pets" and "Ni Hao, Kai-Lan."

Though most of adult TV may indeed be bubble gum for the mind, the best of children's programming includes fun and instructional content that teaches kids about the universe, the meaning of family and friendship, or otherwise how to cope in the sometimes confusing world of adults.

Check out our best guide to learning more about what the kids are watching, how it effects their developent, along with what's recommended by health and educational experts around the Web...

also see -> Safe Kids Web Surfing | Child Development

More about children's TV around the Web

Children's television series
- An extensive Wikipeida overview of kids' programming tracing its history and growth in the U.S., U.K., Australia, Europe and Japan.

Your Child | Television - One of the best, hyperlinked guides around - with extensive coverage of the benefits and pitfalls of kids' TV - including discussions on parental issues and guidelines, health and development concerns and more, with related resources, from the UM Health System.



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