Why it Matters

“All television is educational television. The question is what is it teaching?”

Federal Communications Commission commissioner (1966-1973) Nicholas Johnson

Media have never been more prevalent in the lives of children.  Youth consume video content over four hours a day, every day of the week.  This means that storytelling represents a key opportunity to impact the social and emotional  learning of young people. 

Many researchers are conducting useful studies on how children learn from media. However,  after years of hearing academics focus primarily on the negative consequences of media, content creators and executives have tuned them out. This helps no one.

The truth is that storytellers who write for youth are not all inherently inclined to use sex, violence and other negative means to include in or sell their content. Yet many academics treat them as such, because they do not understand the constraints industry executives work under. Moreover, the ways that academics hope writers will communicate positive learning is often didactic and with a large heaping of “chocolate covered broccoli.” Entertainment media producers know that youth quickly tune this content out and want “authentic” content that sometimes appears to be the opposite of pro-social values. This in turn can alarm academics and more traditional educators. The mindsets of the two populations are different and very far apart.

As a former movie exec, I know that many people in the entertainment business want to do the right thing for kids, they just need tools to do so, in a format that makes it practical and relevant for their work.  As such, I  aim to bridge the gap between social science and storytelling, yielding more impactful storytelling without compromising its entertainment value.

We all know that media is not going away. By using the power of stories to teach our children, we will help guide them to have the capacity to be the best citizens they can be.