New study says 'Elmo' helps kids learn

MSNBC is focusing on education this week, an initiative that will end with a two hour special called A Stronger America: Making the Grade which airs this coming Sunday. Today they discussed TV for toddlers and the impact of ‘educational’ television. A new study suggest that ‘Elmo’, a muppet from Sesame Street, is more likely than other characters to help kids in America learn.

The study had different groups of children watch as Elmo or another character unfamiliar to them demonstrated how to sequence cups. When their knowledge was tested later, the children who had watched Elmo performed the task more successfully.

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Psychologist Sandra Calvert of Georgetown University explained, “one of the things about Elmo is that he is so popular among small children and he is meaningful to them.” This popularity makes children more interested in listening to what he has to say.

When asked whether the study in 2006, which said that 80 percent of toddlers watched 2 hrs of TV a day, was an indicator that kids watch too much TV, Calvert responded that one had to look at the “media diet” and make sure that “any time [a] child is exposed to media…they are looking at the right program and content.”

“Some of the [favorite] teachers [we have] can be on the airwaves,” reminded Calvert.

Tune in to A Stronger America: Making the Grade live from Detroit this coming Sunday with hosts Tamron Hall and Jeff Johnson. Join the conversation @strongeramerica using #makingthegrade and find more information at