Science Says Sesame Street Makes Kids Smarter, Even In High School

Science Says Sesame Street Makes Kids Smarter, Even In High School

Children who watch Sesame Street as a preschooler have higher academic achievement that lasts all the way into high school. Researchers have dubbed this the "Sesame effect."

Why It Matters

Not all children have equal access to educational materials. Some start music classes in early infancy or begin learning a second language as a toddler, but millions of kids aren't so lucky. That said, any child who has access to a television should be able to watch Sesame Street, which appears on PBS. (Starting in 2016, the children's show began airing first on HBO, but it still reairs on public television.)

And that's a good thing: The benefits of watching Sesame Street have been rigorously researched in more than 1,000 studies over the course of 30 years. One study, published in 2015, found that "the TV show is 'the largest and least-costly [early childhood] intervention that's ever been implemented" in the United States, as Phillip Levine, the study co-author, told The Atlantic.

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Why It's Relevant

According to the 2015 study, Sesame Street can be as impactful as preschool when it comes to a child's education. The study found that "Sesame Street improved school readiness, particularly for boys and children living in economically disadvantaged areas." In a world where education inequality is a worldwide reality, that's a pretty big deal.

Editors' Picks: Our Favorite Videos About Sesame Street

Sesame Street: The Importance of Early Childhood Education

Thie video is brought to you by the letter S.

03:05

Key Facts In This Video

  • 1

    Before the age of 5, the brain forms as many as 700 neural connections per second. (1:02)

  • 2

    "The Sesame effect" refers to the fact that children who grew up watching Sesame Street tend to receive higher academic marks than those who didn't. (1:32)

  • 3

    Children in Bangladesh who watch Sesame Street perform 67% higher in literacy than those who don't watch it. (2:00)

The History of Sesame Street

It's changed a lot since its debut in 1969.

04:36

How Sesame Street Got Its Name

It was a last minute call.

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