October 25, 2004 8:09 AM   Subscribe

My son likes Boohbah, which to me just seems like a half hour of fuzzy balloons making farting noises. What, if anything, is my child getting out of his show? Sesame Street I understand. The Wiggles gets an okay nod. I just don't get the Boohbah love of his.
posted by FunkyHelix to Media & Arts (14 answers total)
Perhaps, like so much adult television, it's television that he doesn't have to use his brain for?
posted by agregoli at 8:14 AM on October 25, 2004

What, if anything, is my child getting out of his show?

A half-hour of fuzzy balloons making farting noises. Sounds like something a kid would find entertaining. Sounds like I'd find it entertaining now.

Been a long time since you were a child, I guess.
posted by jonmc at 8:23 AM on October 25, 2004

Well, I laughed when I clicked the link... :/
posted by nthdegx at 8:32 AM on October 25, 2004

From the "About the Program" page:

The Secret of Learning with Boohbah
Boohbah is different from most educational TV. It is intended to foster a style of active viewing in which the things that children learn from viewing are not determined primarily by the content of the program, but rather by the ways that young viewers (and the grown-ups who care about them) engage with the program.

Woven into the design of Boohbah are opportunities to help children build skills in five different learning areas:
Problem Solving / Science

I was home sick one day and watched the show to see what my nieces and nephews like so much about it .. and it's still a mystery to me.
posted by initapplette at 8:38 AM on October 25, 2004

I've read some articles about the development of Boobah. It's specifically meant for pre-verbal kids and those early in the vocal development. The sounds are meant to be ones they can imitate, even if they can't say words yet, which leads to verbal development. It was developed by a whole team of psychologists and early childhood types.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:42 AM on October 25, 2004

It's designed by psychologists to sell toys of colorful fuzzy balloons making farting noises.

No, really. The stores are filling up with Boobah hooch just in time for Christmas. There used to be a lot more stuff there on the Ragdoll site about targeted marketing, product licensing, mindshare in the toddler set, etc.

And it was incredibly creepy. Like seriously, insanely creepy. So creepy that if I had kids I'd smash up the TV and bury it out in the corn field, 'cause if even PBS is tainted so, what's left?

That Boobah flash program with the musically farting, dancing Boobahs and the subsets of minigames made the rounds of the linkshares a year or three ago, and it was so decidedly psychologically designed I had to do some homework about the parent company, Ragdoll.

They *might* not be evil, but it seems like to me they're mainly intentionally targeting impressionable youth to build a market share for their licensed stream of Chinese-made toys. This may not be overtly evil - or even unique - but it's approaching it IMO.

This is not the PBS I once knew.

Maybe stuff like this is popular because parents these days have forgotten how to make farting noises, be silly, or otherwise pay attention to things kids like due to an irrational fear of not being mature, or something. Make some goofy farting noises with me now, whether you have kids or not. PBbbBbbBbbbbt. MMM, rasberry sammich.
posted by loquacious at 9:19 AM on October 25, 2004

Boohbah, is by the Teletubbies people. Teletubbies and Blue's Clues were both revolutionary in children's television in that they took the lessons learned in the scientific study of childhood development to make age appropriate, or developmentally appropriate shows that can make that claim based on science, not pure conjecture.

A 1998 New York Times article called "Move Over, Big Bird: A New Blue Dog's in Town" is mentioned here. I couldn't find it at NYT, but I remember reading it. It outlined the educational background of the creators and how they made their pitch, and answers many of the questions about why the show is the way it is. Google for Angela Santomero, its creator for more info. After these shows came out the venerable Sesame Street retooled to match the new lessons and continues to be refined as they learn more.

This NYT article is about the importance of repetition to young children's cognitive development. Blue's Clues actually runs the same episode for 5 consecutive days at the insistance of its creator. Teletubbies and Boohbah are very repetitive.

This page and this page on the PBS teletubbies site will largely apply to Boohbah.

This quote:
our program is designed to be a 'conversation' - with enough time provided for our audience to respond before moving the action forward. If you watch Teletubbies by yourself you only get half of this conversation. But if you are lucky enough to be watching with a small child they provide the other half.
is instructive.

My son loves Boohbah too. His older sister loved Teletubbies. Now he does. I read up on that show when she started watching it. I love it now too.

I might add more later if I get a chance.
posted by putzface_dickman at 10:32 AM on October 25, 2004

And that is one very non-traditional family, I might add.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 11:18 AM on October 25, 2004

My three-year-old is only occasionally engaged by the show, but when he is, it seems to because it's something that he can easily get his head around...just about everything else that's thrown at him is a learning challenge, whether it's meant to be educational, or whether it's just because he's learning about _everything_ right now. It's like a simple story or song--it's hard to begrudge him a little break from climbing up the learning curve 12 hours a day.

(And I've got to say, loquacious, while I've always had my reservations about the whole marketing complex behind these things, as a dad who spends a good couple hours a day wrestling with my kids or playing at the park--kids who both enjoy Boohbah--it's pretty sanctimonious to suggest it's the parents' fault.)
posted by LairBob at 11:57 AM on October 25, 2004

my 4 year old really dislikes boohbah. he gets pretty upset if he's decided to watch TV, and it's on. i think because it doesn't have an actual storyline (not one that i've discerned from watching 5-10 minutes, anyway.) and man... however wacky and trippy the teletubbies seemed 5 years ago, boohbah makes them seem positively square.
posted by chr1sb0y at 12:30 PM on October 25, 2004

LairBob: You seem to be in the minority, at least where I live. If so, you're not in that "maybe" I talked about. On the flipside, if it's not the parents' fault, whose is it? They let the kid watch the show, they encouraged it, they bought the toys, the t-shirt, the shoes, the books. They opened Pandora's box. As much as I would like to hold the more blatant and damaging of the corporations responsible, they wouldn't be there without a market to sell to.

Every time I go some place cool and interesting - yesterday it was Travel Town and Los Angeles Live Steamers in Griffith Park - I'll see at least one kid ask a smart, pertinent question only to have it brushed off by the parents who are literally dragging their kids through the exhibits at a faster than walking pace. "I dunno. Let's go." I usually see this multiple times, sometimes dozens of times.

And it's not just cool, interesting places. I see it in grocery stores, parks, all over the place. Almost all the parents with children in tow I see don't ever seem to take the time to ever listen to their kids, much less answer them, or discover the answer with them, or even actually have a conversation with them. It's like their kids aren't actually people to them or something.

It's not sanctimony you're smelling, it's dread and concern for the future.

If you're watching these shows together and having a dialog about it, great. If that dialog is able to include the ideas of marketing, economics, and offshore mass production, even better. If (the hypothetical) you is using the TV as a baby sitter, not good at all.

I'd much rather you took your kids outside and play in the mud then watch TV, though, if you've got the time to watch TV with them and have a dialog about it. Climb a tree. Build sofa cushion forts and knock 'em down. Play with Lego, even. Make paper airplanes. Give your kid a microscope or telescope and use it with them. Prepare and mount samples of plants on slides, do astrophotography.

Something - almost anything - that helps create real dialog that the child helped create and conceptualize and actually use their own imagination.
posted by loquacious at 12:35 PM on October 25, 2004

The AAP recommends that kids under 2 don't watch tv. They need to be doing things, instead of sitting and watching things. A new policy from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) urges parents to avoid television for children under 2 years old.

"While certain television programs may be promoted to this age group, research on early brain development shows that babies and toddlers have a critical need for direct interactions with parents and other significant care givers for healthy brain growth and the development of appropriate social, emotional, and cognitive skills," the policy says.

posted by amberglow at 6:58 PM on October 25, 2004

'cause if even PBS is tainted so, what's left?

I love love me....
posted by Vidiot at 10:00 PM on October 25, 2004

It's best to let kids under 2 not watch tv. They don't need it, they don't want it. They may enjoy it when it's turned on, but won't request it when it's off unless they're used to it.

So wait a bit, there are 1,000,000 other things that will occupy their attention then TV>
posted by cell divide at 3:17 PM on October 26, 2004

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