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Mommy, Can I Watch Elmo On the iPad?

My three-year-old son Miles has never watched an episode of Sesame Street on television. But he knows and loves Elmo, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Grover, and Abby just like any typical preschooler because of the Sesame Street videos and e-books that he uses on our iPad.

According to this account, he's part of a growing number of young children—35 percent—whose only experience with Sesame Street has been on nonTV platforms.

The venerable, 43-year-old program has obviously figured out how to keep delighting children while teaching them fundamentals like letters and numbers, but, perhaps just as important, PBS is keeping Sesame Street most relevant by adapting to how kids and their parents consume programming these days.

Here are some telling data points from PBS itself about how families are changing the way they access Sesame Street and the nonprofit organization's other popular programming for children:

  • PBS KIDS provides nearly 98 million online video streams per month across the PBS KIDS family of players, making PBS the No. 1 source of children's video online. (ComScore Video Metriz, 11/2011)
  • In total, PBS' general audience and kids apps for iPad and iPhone have been downloaded more than 2.3 million times. (iTunes)
  • The PBS KIDS Video for iPad app averages 82 million video streams a month. (The Platform, 11/2011)

Of course, we do have to ask ourselves whether allowing our children to access the cascade of so-called educational content on digital platforms is a good thing. To help us find the answers to that question, don't miss an interview that Lisa Guernsey at the New America Foundation did last month with two researchers who've explored this issue in-depth.

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