Parents searching for advice on television programs for their kids can now consult the Internet. KIDSNET, a non-profit information center devoted to children’s electronic media, recently partnered with the Family Education Network, an education-based Web site for parents (www.familyeducation.com), to create an on-line forum for its Media Guide listings, which describe programs for children ages preschool through high school. Shows are referenced by air date, curriculum area, grade level, supplemental materials, related multimedia and off-air taping rights.
Adding ‘meat’ to these comprehensive listings, the KIDSNET area (www.familyeducation.com/KIDSNET.asp) incorporates the most recent ratings for shows designated as educational/informational (E/I). KIDSNET also recommends programming for the Family Education Network using the criteria that no recommended shows will contain acts of gratuitous violence, and that shows will reflect educational material, extend knowledge and help kids solve problems.
A number of features at the site offer more in-depth information should parents wish to delve deeper. KIDSNET Weekly Highlights give a look at the week’s best shows, and KIDSNET executive director Karen Jaffe’s monthly column covers upcoming television specials and series that have common elements, such as a historical theme. Jaffe said in a release that the role of the site is to help parents use television as ‘a valuable teaching tool.’
The launch of the site is timely considering that the recently released report on children’s television by the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania found that newspapers have lost their credibility with parents as a source for kids TV coverage. More than half the parents surveyed say newspapers are not useful in deciding which shows their kids can watch. Since U.S. newspaper listings often omit the E/I designation, parents increasingly turn to TV Guide, which carries it, or rely on their own judgment or word of mouth.