Thanks to significant technological advancements, interactive children’s TV is now real. In 2012 Microsoft, in conjunction with Sesame Street released ‘Kinect Sesame Street TV’. Using the Kinect, the motion- and voice-sensing controller, young children can now interact with TV characters. For example Elmo will catch a talking ball if you throw it to him, or you can pick carrots from Elmo’s garden, or the Count will praise you for standing still or the Count will praise you for standing still.
This is a significant evolution in children’s TV. Child development experts have long promoted the idea that children require active involvement and movement to learn. And that is exactly what young children can do when they participate in interactive TV.
In addition, interactive TV provides children with instant feedback. They know instantaneously if they are right or wrong. For example, if they throw Grover eight coconuts instead of 10 Grover will let them know.
Children will develop authentic understandings of concepts. For example, if they are developing an understanding of numbers the children are actively involved in demonstrating this knowledge, rather than watching objects being counted. In one task, Grover slips over and drops his coconuts. Children are then required to throw six coconuts back to Grover. In this instance, children develop a real understanding of ‘6’, as opposed to just watching Grover count six coconuts (which children can also elect to do if they do not want to actively participate). Children’s physical actions are linked to a number and in doing so, children develop real understandings of concepts.
Children are also encouraged to move, which is critical for early learning. Using Kinect Sesame Street TV, children are asked to jump, skip, wave, clap, stand, throw and point. This is vastly different to passive TV where children assume a very inactive role.
With Kinect Sesame Street TV children actually step inside the TV screen, via an on-screen mirror. Given that children aged 3 to 5 years are very egocentric, Kinect Sesame Street TV developers have catered for this extremely well. Children love seeing themselves on a TV screen and it allows them to have a real sense of interactivity.
Designed for children aged 3 and up, the Kinect Sesame Street TV is now available worldwide. The game is available on disc or as a download via X-Box Live. Users can purchase eight 30-minute episodes for $AUD38 or individual episodes for $US5. Older children who may not be interested in Sesame Street content, may find the Kinect Nat Geo TV show more appealing. Based on National Geographic, children look for animal prints in the snow, pat animals and take photos of animals they see in the wild. It is also priced at $AUD38.
Please note that this is NOT an endorsed or sponsored blog post. The views expressed here are that of the author, Dr Kristy Goodwin.