Melissa Napolitano September 21, 2012Com 410 Assignment #3 In today’s world, children of all ages are exposed to many forms of media each and every day.Our technological society offers a wide variety of interactive media to an extent that was seeminglyimpossible years ago. In recent years, children’s media specialists have placed a strong focus oncultivating products that benefit children both educationally and developmentally. This concentration isdue to the rapidly increasing amount of exposure children have to technology, television and the mediaas a whole. Parents, child specialists, researchers and doctors have collaborated and debated theeffects of media on the world’s youth. After extensive studies, the results remain varied, along withpersonal opinions about the effects of screen time on youngsters. Despite the negative stigmaassociated with screen time, Disney channel, Nickelodeon, PBS and many others continue to createprogramming for children. As of late, attention devoted to educational series has been on the rise,revolutionizing the industry for years to come. The contemporary children’s media artifact of discussion is the ever popular children’s program,Dora the Explorer. The program was aired on Nick Jr. in the year 2000 and has since created hypeamong parents and children alike. The creators, Chris Gifford, Valerie Walsh, and Eric Weiner,successfully paired educational appeal and the factor of entertainment in this series. The plot of the show is revolved around the adventures of an eight year old Latina girl namedDora Marquez. With the help of her friend Boots, the guidance provided by Map and the handycontents of Backpack, Dora must reach a destination and avoid the team’s arch enemy, Swiper thefox.The creators of the program present Dora as a positive role model for children. Despite the fact thatDora is a child herself, she is independent, athletic, family oriented and bilingual. Dora’s fun-lovingpersonality makes it easy for children to relate to her, and provides a safe place for learning. In eachepisode, she subtly teaches viewers about her heritage and traditional values in addition to counting,
spelling, and reading in both English and Spanish. Being that the episodes are repetitive in terms of theprogression of each journey, the audience has the opportunity to actively participate in the program andfeel a stronger connection to the characters. Each episode is highly interactive, as Dora encourages herviewers to follow along and repeat certain phrases, allowing for a greater retention rate of theinformation being presented. In my opinion, the progression of the series has enhanced interaction and learning for childrenin a unique way. The introduction of a second language to children at a young age is necessary intoday’s society, especially Spanish. Dora was Nick Jr.’s first bilingual character, her success and appealto children and parents alike sparked the idea for a spin off series, featuring Dora’s cousin, Diego. Hisshow is called Go, Diego, Go!, following a similar plot as Dora’s series. Though Dora had both male andfemale fans, it is safe to say that children tend to desire to watch programs that feature characters ofthe same sex as themselves. Diego’s debut gained the attention of young boys, widening the reach andthe target audience. Now, the dynamic duo continue to enhance the growing minds of boys AND girlsworldwide. Many parallels can be draw between Dora the Explorer and the age old favorite, Franklin. BothNick Jr. series provide an interactive environment for learning. Like Dora, Franklin is a friendly, playful,smart young cartoon character. He provides a great environment for learning and can be classified as aperfect role model because of his motivation to be successful and share his big heart with everyone hemeets. In each episode Franklin learns how to deal with real life situations, when it comes tocommunicating with friends, family and teachers. Franklin is presented with a problem and is taughthow to work through it in the most effective way possible. He not only learns the lessons himself, butteaches his viewers how to be a better friend, child or student. This series aims to teach children theskills they need to be emotionally stable as they enter pre-k and kindergarten; meaning the creatorstarget developmental lessons as opposed to the educational ones we see in Dora. This is the main
variation I see when comparing the two hit series. Franklin focuses on life skills and development,whereas Dora concentrates more on education that would occur in a classroom. Some other differencesare that Dora is a human and Franklin a turtle. Despite this they are both strong, well developedcharacters with a large fan population. Like many other Nick Jr. series, these two were a huge successand have changed learning for the youthful generations to come. With each passing year, the ability toprovide interactive learning through media is improving, expanding the minds of children to a limit thatonce seemed surreal.