Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood Helps Social And Emotional Development

family watching television

New research finds that watching Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood on PBS can help your child develop socially and emotionally. Over the years, there has been a great deal of research on whether television is bad for children, especially young ones. One such study concluded that when toddlers spend more than two hours in front of the television a day they are more likely to be bullied later in life. The research explained that television viewing prohibits them from developing crucial social skills that allow them to engage in healthy ways with other children.

However, as we all know, it is virtually impossible to keep kids completely away from screen time, whether it be from television or other mediums, such as iPads. With that in mind, the American Academy of Pediatrics recently released updated guidelines for screen time for children. The old, well-known guidelines discouraged screen time for children under age 2 and limit “screen time” to two hours a day for children over age 2. The new guidelines discuss how parents should view television with their children. The new guidelines encourage watching with your kids, setting limits and being a good role model when it comes to screen time.

The new APA screen time guidelines present good news for parents and kids. You are allowed to watch television with your kids! A new study went even further to test which shows are best for young kids. 

Mr. Rogers

Most of us remember Mr. Rogers. We grew up watching him sing songs, teach us about the value of neighbors and tie his shoes every morning in his memorable red sweater.

Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood is the animated descendant of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, and features children of several characters from the original Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

Study Supports Watching Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood

Many social and emotional skills are developed during the preschool years.

Researchers at Texas Tech University conducted a study to see if watching Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood could also help develop these very important skills.

The study consisted of 127 preschoolers who watched 10 episodes of either Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood or a nature show over a two-week period of time. Children who watched Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood showed higher levels of empathy, self-efficacy (one's ability to succeed in specific situations or accomplish a task) and the ability to recognize emotions than those preschoolers who watched the nature show.

However, the more notable and conversation-worthy part of these results is that for kids to benefit from watching Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood the preschoolers' television-watching experiences had to be accompanied by frequent parent-child conversations about media content. Watching the show alone does not yield the same results; it is the combination of watching Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and parents’ involvement while watching that seems to make the difference. The results also showed that parent involvement is especially be true for younger children (ages 4 and younger) and low-income children. When frequent parent-child conversations about the show is removed, the kids do not benefit as much from watching the show.

What Does this Research Tell Us?

The research tells us that television is moving in a different direction; one that is better for kids and parents. Television shows like Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood can help teach children developmentally appropriate lessons, include characters children can relate to and have plots and stories that children want to watch. The study also tells us that these lessons need to be discussed with children and reinforced by parents.  Using television as a babysitter is not going to help them socially or emotionally. Parent involvement is not only important when your child is in school; it is important in your day-to-day lives, which includes all media viewing.

If you haven't seen Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, check it out on PBS. It is sweet, smart and wonderfully reminiscent of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood. Not only does it help build social and emotional skills, it also teaches lessons about potty training, brushing teeth, going off to school and becoming a big brother or sister. It is sure to put a smile on your face and engage your child.