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The Parent Ticker: New Educational Support in Pre-School Television (2006-2008)
For a long time, studies on pre-school television have shown that children learn a lot – and particularly well – when parents and children watch the programmes together and talk about the content. How that plays out in each individual case, and what makes for productive communication during television viewing is, however, still up for debate. The IZI took this as its starting point, developing an innovation in collaboration with the WDR (a German public broadcaster): the parent ticker, an intermittently superimposed information bar which gives parents background information, references and concrete tips on how to support their children during the reception.
The first studies were undertaken by Shalom Fisch in 2006 for the IZI in New York; general information and jokes for parents were superimposed in a similar bar during the pre-school slot. In the experiment, Fisch employed an educationally enhanced “mommy bar” and was able to prove that this can enhance communication during television viewing.
In Germany, the first step was to implement this within Die Sendung mit dem Elefanten (The Programme with the Elephant), a programme aimed at 2 to 5 year-olds which – advised by the IZI, among others – integrates current findings in pre-school pedagogical research.
3 studies were undertaken with the aid of the WDR and in collaboration with WDR media researchers.
Test versions were analysed in terms of the possibilities they offered, their capacity to promote learning, and their viewer acceptance. These improved findings were used to create 10 episodes which were then broadcast on KI.KA (a German children’s channel) in November 2008. These were, once again, scientifically supported, both by an online questionnaire and by recordings of 30 natural reception situations within the family.
- The parent ticker promotes the kind of communication that is desirable from a pedagogical point of view. The children participate more in terms of commenting and guessing; they are more active in communicating what they have seen and in joining in with movements.
- It promotes learning among children, e.g. especially in English for the early years, as pre-school children learn more effectively from real people than they do from television alone. In second language learning, however, television tends to give children a better feel for a language than parents do, as it can convey correct pronunciation.
- It promotes parents’ understanding of the reception perspective. By asking follow-up questions, parents can grasp more quickly which parts of the programme the children have not understood, what they really like, or how they interpret stories.
- Because of the parent ticker, the reception becomes a family event, so parents place more value on the programme.
In this respect, the concept of the parent ticker has proved its worth on different levels; the programme with the parent ticker had already won 3 national prizes by mid-2009. Thus far, 30 episodes with the parent ticker have been made; along with KI.KA, they are broadcast on WDR. Furthermore, the parent ticker’s utilisation is being assessed, in particular, in terms of what it can offer to parents with a migration background, and in terms of its implementation as a DVD.
Germany: Dr Maya Götz, Andrea Holler, Sabrina Bachmann (IZI)
USA: Dr. Shalom M. Fisch (MediaKidz New York)
Shalom M. Fisch: Die “Mommy-Bar”: Getting parents and preschoolers talking. In: TelevIZIon, 20/2007/E, pp. 44-46.