May 27, 2023

The popular children’s television show, “Sesame Street,” has released an online series that is supposed to help kids tackle tough topics. The series can be found on its official website, which is filled with various content that addresses issues children may deal with early on in life.

“Sesame Street in Communities” tries to relate to its viewers throughout difficult times, dealing with topics such as divorce, homelessness, death, addiction and foster care. The website even offers guidance on other topics such as eating healthy, learning to share and learning through play.

Michael Eaton, professor of film, said he prefers shows that teach children important lessons from a Christian standpoint, such as “Veggie Tales.”

“Sesame Street has been effective in the past in promoting positive values for kids, as well as positive role models. However, in today’s polarized society, it must be said that ‘Sesame Street’ definitely operates from a progressive perspective on the issues and would not be seen by Christian parents as friendly to some of their deeply held beliefs,” Eaton said.

“Sesame Street in Communities” recently introduced a new Muppet to whom audiences have responded well, known as Karli, whose mom struggles with addiction. Elmo explains to his young viewers during a walk in the park with his father that Karli’s mom had to go away, and when she came back, she looked and acted differently.

Elmo’s dad then goes on to explain that Karli’s mom is dealing with a disease called addiction that may make her feel like she needs a “grown-up drink” or “some other type of drug” to feel better. Elmo’s dad tries to explain how being addicted to something can cause someone to act strange.

Since “Sesame Street” debuted in 1969 on PBS, it has taught generations of children about life issues that they may experience from an early age. It continues to do so today’s generation of growing and learning toddlers.

Shanna Done, senior film major, said she appreciates that children will have this resource.

“Children learning their favorite characters and television shows about difficult topics is great because it will explain it in a way that isn’t harmful for them because ‘Sesame Street’ is intended for kids,” Done said.

The program also points out the reason Karli’s mom had to go away is because she needed to get help from another grown-up. In another skit, Karli talks to Elmo about the meetings her mom attends and explains that she does this because talking to friends about bad days makes everyone feel better. Which seems to be relatable for all.

Denise Rivera, junior political science major, said she sees the value in creating awareness.

“It’s a good platform for them to learn about these things. They will be able to understand why their friend’s mom is always late or why their own parents have issues. It is a show that keeps them out of the dark,” Rivera said.

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