Study: 'Sesame Street' Can Help Your Kid Reach Success in School and Work

Kids who are introduced to the show before the age of 7 reap the benefits the most.
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profile picture of Stephanie Grassullo
Associate Editor
March 21, 2019
bert and ernie from sesame street which is now proven to improve children's educational level
Image: Peter Bischoff / Getty Images

Lots of preschool TV shows boast educational rewards for kids, but how many can actually prove it?

Celebrating 50 years and counting, Sesame Street is in a league of its own. The long-running show is not only beloved by grandparents, parents and kids, but it can actually help viewers later in life, says a new study published in the American Economic Journal: Applied Economics and reported on by People. According to the study, the series helps improve school performance for children, particularly boys, who tune in before turning 7 years old. That’s not all. It also suggests long-term effects which last all the way into the workplace.

The research examined data from the US census in 1980, 1990 and 2000, to see how kids who watched Sesame Street did in school and their jobs later on compared to those who didn’t watch it. Kids who were introduced to the show early on were linked to positive experiences in school and the workplace. Particularly, those who had a high exposure to the show were 14 percent more likely to attend the age-appropriate grade in middle and high school.

The benefits aren’t only limited to school success. The long-lasting effects suggest kids who watch Sesame Street are more likely to be employed and earn a somewhat higher wage in the workforce. “The magnitude of the estimated wage effects are consistent with forecasts based on the estimated improvements in test scores and grade-for-age status brought about by the show’s introduction,” the researchers say.

There you have it. A guilt-free reason to let your little one occasionally watch TV (just try to stick to the AAP’s screen time guidelines).

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