If you’re under the age of 55 then there is a good chance Sesame Street was a part of your childhood. This is particularly true for those who didn’t have cable growing up. The diverse cast and inner-city backdrop pioneered children’s television and paved the way for similar programming to come later.
Though Sesame Street was always assumed to be better for kids than other shows, the actual educational value shown has always been a source of contention. However, new evidence shows the children’s program may actually be good for academic development.
According to a recently published study, children that were exposed to Sesame Street experienced enhanced academic outcomes:
Building on this existing body of early, targeted evidence, our large-scale analysis finds positive impacts on the educational performance of the generation of children who experienced their preschool years when Sesame Street was introduced in areas with greater broadcast coverage. Specifically, such children achieved relative increases in grade-for-age status.
The impact was even greater for minorities and boys:
The positive effect of the show appears to have been particularly pronounced for boys and black, non-Hispanic children, along with those children who grew up in counties characterized by greater economic disadvantage.
One of the original goals of the show was to bring learning to disadvantaged children of color. So that end, they would appear to have been successful.
Though Sesame Street is arguably the most well-known and successful children’s program of all time, funding changes have caused it to face some financial struggles as of late. DVD and VHS sales have collapsed, and PBS was no longer lucrative enough for the property. After an $11 million loss in 2015, Sesame Street signed a season deal with HBO. But remaining true to its roots, the deal allows for the re-runs to air on PBS after a 9-month delay.
Read the full study here.