Daniel Tiger Influences Kids, But Parents Need to Participate

(Photo: Youtube, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Youtube, Creative Commons)

According to recently released research, watching a cartoon tiger could have positive effects on young children as they grow and develop.

In an attempt to continue the tradition of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, the animated series known as Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is now a popular television show for young children.  Geared toward preschoolers, the show features a number of characters from the original Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

Researchers at Texas Tech University took a closer look at the series in an effort to determine if watching Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood could help children develop the social and emotional skills they need during their preschool years.

In the study, set to be published in an upcoming issue of The Journal of Children and Media, 127 preschoolers were asked to watch either 10 episodes of Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood or a nature program over the course of two weeks.  Children in the Daniel Tiger group were found to have higher levels of empathy, self-efficacy (or self-confidence in social situations), and were able to recognize emotions more so than those who watched the nature show.

Researchers noted that these effects were even higher among children who discussed the content on a frequent basis with their parents.  This was found to be especially true for low-income children and those under the age of four.  Children did not appear to benefit as much from watching the show without this additional parent interaction, writes Rachel Cruise for The Parent Herald.

The findings suggest that certain educational television shows are increasing in sophistication to the point that they are able to keep a child’s attention while at the same time being developmentally appropriate, feature characters children can identify, and make use of techniques that help children learn.  It also suggests that in order for these shows to be effective, parents need to be actively involved to reinforce the lessons taught in each episode.

Other than social skills, the show teaches children a number of additional skills preschoolers typically have difficulty with such as potty training, trying new foods, and brushing teeth, all through the use of song.

To add to the television show, PBS Kids recently announced the launch of their new Daniel Tiger’s Stop and Go Potty app, which encourages young children to use bathroom routines when they need to use the toilet and sink.

The app includes four games that allow children to play blocks with Daniel, helping to take a break when Daniel needs to go to the bathroom; they can play a water game with Katerina and practice self-control skills; play a stacking game with Daniel’s baby sister Margaret, helping Daniel’s mother to change her diaper; and practice bathroom routines with Daniel and Katerina:

“PBS KIDS is committed to partnering with parents to support children’s healthy development, and DANIEL TIGER’S NEIGHBORHOOD offers families useful tools and strategies to help kids build the skills they need to be successful,” said Sara DeWitt, Vice President, PBS KIDS Digital. “Daniel Tiger’s Stop & Go Potty app tackles routines related to one of these major life milestones – potty-training – helping make it a positive experience for kids and parents alike, with fun, developmentally appropriate games for children, as well as tips and tools for parents.”