Mickey Mouse or Math? TV Execs Battle for Kid Viewers

Filed under: In The News

Mickey Mouse wants your toddler. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

When it comes to parking tots in front of the electronic babysitter, a growing debate is heating up: Should the tube be teacher or storyteller?

Turns out tots ages 2 to 5 are one of the most important demographics in TV land, spending almost 32 hours a week in front of the tube, according to Nielsen. And that question is at the top of the minds of the mega media giants battling for the hearts and minds of TV's smallest couch potatoes, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Though they agree it's never too young to be plugged into TV, the big media competitors are waging a war over Mickey Mouse and "Ni Hao, Kai-Lan."

As they jockey for competitive position, two different views on what is appropriate for toddlers are emerging, according to the Journal.

Executives at Disney, whose top-rated series "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" draws about 753,000 viewers, claim toddler TV should be simple and engage in storytelling, the newspaper reports, and they add that TV has become too much work and too little play.

But over at the Nick Jr. channel, a show about cartoon Kai Lan Chow, a 6-year-old who teaches kids Mandarin Chinese, is racking up 828,000 thumb-sucking fans. Execs there argue curriculum is the way to go to warm youngster's hearts.

Making strong background noise is the American Academy of Pediatrics, which says TV should be taboo for tots all together. The association recommends that children under age 2 watch no TV and spend no time in front of the computer.

At stake is much more than the more than $276 million marketers spent last year to advertise during children's TV shows, the Journal reports. Fast food and movie studios topped the list of biggest spenders, according the newspaper, and the sale of toys, books and DVDs for Nick Jr.'s "Dora the Explorer" have generated more than $11 billion in sales globally since 2002.

Disney says a six-month study of 2,200 parents of preschoolers found that when parents were asked what they most want for their children, the most popular reply was for them to be happy, according to the Journal, which also reports Disney is planning a new series of programming for preschoolers, Disney Junior, to debut next February.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.