Today's Moms Want TV to Raise Their Children for ThemS

The president of Disney Channels Worldwide, the fearsomely named Carolina Lightcap, recently announced that the new Disney Junior channel, for kids ages 2-7, won't focus so much on academic education as social skills and behavior lessons. That's what moms want.

Mmhm! Disney's research has shown that the traditional educational focus of young children's television shows — stressing math and reading and spelling and other school-y type skills — isn't really what moms want these days. Writes the New York Times's Decoder blog:

Moms want preschool TV to be more about teaching children social skills and less about pushing clear academic goals - at least that's what Disney executives say new internal research indicates.
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Carolina Lightcap, president of Disney Channels Worldwide, said on Thursday that her company's megawatt new preschool channel - Disney Junior, targeting children ages 2 to 7, which will have its debut in 2012 - would make a shift toward programming built around squishier teachings about social values and behavior.

"They don't honestly think kids are going to learn how to read from watching a TV show," Ms. Lightcap said of Disney's extensive research among mothers. Ms. Lightcap said learning was "the cost of entry" in the preschool business but that it was "no longer a differentiator."

First, a woman named Carolina Lightcap using the word "differentiator" is absolutely terrific. I wonder if she went to school with Lindsey Naegle? ("Synergy!") Second, this is great! See, kids learn formal academics at school, and now the TV will teach them social skills (how does lonely television do that, exactly?), so moms are totally off the hook! Wheeee.

Kidding, mostly. In a more serious fashion, I guess what I really want is a why. Why are parents (or moms specifically — why are we just talking about moms here anyway?) wanting to see children's TV trending away from the traditionally educational into more social schooling? Does that say anything about us? I mean, obviously it says that we're genuinely considering television as a tool to raise our children, which is sort of bleak in a decades-old sorta way, but does it say anything about right now? Maybe it's the phrase "social values", which Decoder uses, that sends shivers up my spine. Isn't it sad that the world "values" has been so co-opted by the smilingly sinister right? Sigh.

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