Phillip Allen
COM 410- Children and Media
Professor Hobbs
09/26/12
Comparison of Old and New Media
During this generation, technology has been found to be the biggest controller of society. The days of Atari and Pac-Man are long gone and the new revolution of media has arrived with high definition graphics and interactive characters. Children are now growing up in the new age where CDs and flip phones are now obsolete and talking with friends is online or through a text message. Due to the rapidly growing technology field, children’s media companies such as Nickelodeon also need to change with the times and offer new modern shows and games.
One children’s television that comes to mind when thinking of interactive media is Nickelodeon’s Dora the Explorer. This show was created by producer Chris Gifford who was asked by the network to create a new show for kids. Gifford and his team tried to create a show with animals that would be appealing to the 2 to 5 year old age but nothing was good enough for production. One of the bosses named Brown Johnson went to Gifford and stated, “Make something altogether different; Forget the animal ideas and make a Spanish-speaking Latina” (NPR, 2008). This idea came from Johnson attending a conference and finding that the Spanish culture and its people were often misrepresented in many forms of media. With that idea on the table, the network decided to cover all their bases by bringing in one of the largest groups of consultants. The consultants were there to make sure the show and its characters did not offend the Latin people or any of the shows audience. The creative team took on the challenge and ended up creating Dora.

Dora the Explorer is about an animated 7-year-old Latin girl named Dora who finds herself travelling from place to place, exploring new lands and making new friends. In these different places, she meets characters that speak Spanish and others that do math problems. She has many different important materials that go with her to aid in her journeys like her backpack and the map. This show has been proven to help children learn Spanish, become faster mathematicians, and teach values like not to steal and not to lie. Certain characters that help in teaching these values is a fox named Swiper who loves to steal, and Tico the squirrel who helps teach different languages.

This television show since its release in the summer of 2000, it has been recognized as a form of educational television for younger children, specifically ages 2 through 5. This show became so well-known due to children having the opportunity during the show to answer questions and help Dora reach her destination. What the producers do is after every question Dora asks the audience, they allow ample amount of time before the characters start to speak again. This allows the children and other audience to become more likely to pay attention and learn. In real social interactions in the child’s life, they are expected to respond with and answer to a question that is asked. In a way, this television show even though animated, offers real life characteristics that allow the children to learn from it. The children are interacting with the characters as if they would with a real person. Other television shows like Bob the Builder just try to teach the children values by properly portraying them during the show but the child just has to observe. The audience is not allowed any time to interact or process the questions and answers in the show. Many networks have tried to make as many interactive shows as possible to match the successful response of Dora the Explorer. Sponge Bob Square Pants is another show that teaches children different lessons through the two main characters Sponge Bob and Patrick the star fish. This television show has been successful with its audience consisting of 4 to 9 year olds. This piece of media does not offer interaction with the characters but does inform the audience of real life morals and lessons.

Interactive media is what is allowing children to learn different subjects so quickly. Other forms of media such as an application on the IPad can seem fun to a child, but as he or she plays, they are learning different math or English skills. In these games the children find them fun and amusing but realistically they are teaching the user different skills.

One show that also had a great impact on children but was around about 20 years ago was Barney and Friends. This show was created by a mother from Dallas, Texas; Her name is Sheryl Leach. She created the idea of the show after she was trying to decide which television shows were educational and informative but also may appeal to her son. She created a team and started a series of home videos called Barney and the Backyard Gang. For a few years the show was just aired in Texas but later in 1992, Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) picked up the show and presented Barney and Friends. The show was a success until the network stopped production due to low ratings and popularity in late 2010.

The most distinctive difference between Dora the Explorer and Barney and Friends is that Dora is a show that is animated while Barney is a live action type show. Live action refers to the lack of videography used when a piece of media is not produced by using animation. Barney and Friends was not animated but portrayed young children, interact with a large purple and green dinosaur named Barney. Barney had many other friends which consisted of Baby Bop, B.J., and Riff. All of these characters were different types of dinosaurs. This show was not interactive media due to not allowing the audience to actively participate in the show, but it was successful due to the target audience relating to the children actors in the show. For example, young viewers liked to watch Barney because they saw children just like themselves hanging out with Barney and playing games. This show taught many of the same values and lessons as Dora but did not receive the same amount of success. Some children would be dazed by focusing on the television so long and wouldn’t learn one thing because they were day dreaming. But while watching Dora, the audience stays attentive to the subject because many children already know there will be a question on it.

These two very different television shows both had the same goal in mind; they wanted to successful grab the audiences’ attention and properly communicate the different lessons and values of everyday life. The largest difference between the two is the growing popularity of interactive media. Dora the Explorer offers interaction and communication in the show while Barney and Friends just showed the children the values and lessons. During the time researching the two different shows and comparing them, I think that if Dora was available to my generation, would have my academic path turned out and differently?
Dora.pngbarney-and-friends.jpg


Works Cited
1) (n.d.). Dora the explorer. [Print Photo]. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/search?num=10&hl=en&safe=off&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1366&bih=563&q=dora the explorer&oq=dora the explorer&gs_l=img.3.0l10.911.4057.0.4346.17.8.0.9.9.0.206.841.3j3j1.7.0..0.0..1ac.1._dZYlyDwvxs
2) (n.d.). Barney and friends. [Print Photo]. Retrieved from http://www.google.com/imgres?hl=en&safe=off&biw=1366&bih=563&tbm=isch&tbnid=NkgH8xcoPu8ZfM:&imgrefurl=http://blogs.babble.com/strollerderby/2011/05/30/teacher-sings-barney-and-friends-after-violence-erupts-outside-classroom-video/&docid=7vLuarwxEBetvM&imgurl
3) Arrieta, R. (2008, April 14). Me llamo dora: An explorer in modern america. Retrieved from www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=89531478
4) Series: Barney and friends. (n.d.). Retrieved from tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Series/BarneyandFriends

Good effort here! Writing style is crisp and engaging and your research has added some clever context to the comparison-contrast, and you identify important differences and some key similarities. I wish you had dug around more to find out about the company that now owns the brand. There's been some critique of Barney by many leaders in the children's education community. For example:


Singer, J. L., & Singer, D. (1998). Barney & Friends as entertainment and education: Evaluating the quality and effectiveness of a television series for preschool children. Research paradigms, television, and social behavior, 305-367.

GRADE: B