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What Our Kids' Favorite TV Shows are REALLY Teaching Them

Photograph by Twenty20

Every night when I’m making dinner, my children play quietly together while listening to classical music and reading "The Little Prince" in the original French. Kidding! They’re totally watching TV, because duh, how else am I supposed to get dinner on the table without somebody drawing on the wall, scaling a cabinet or having a meltdown? Screen time—I’m all about it.

Unfortunately, many experts believe kids should be two years old, or even three, before they experience the wonder of television, and even then, screen time should be limited. Thanks for the guilt, experts.

So when a recent study showed that watching "Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood" actually makes kids more empathetic and self-confident, I was thrilled. Maybe it’s not whether they watch TV—that part’s a given in our house—it’s what they watch. You know, quality stuff teaching them how to be good people and whatever.

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As I scrolled through our DVR, I thought about the various programs my kids enjoy. Admittedly, they're not all Daniel Tiger quality, but certainly, each is educational in its own way. Here are just a few of the valuable lessons my girls are absorbing from their favorite shows:

Dora the Explorer – There used to this thing called a “map” before mom had GPS on her phone.

Sophia the First – Friendships with girls are a nightmare, so you might as well just hang out with Tim Gunn.

Peppa Pig – Talking with a British accent is a great way to get what you want, as in, “Mummy, can we watch Peppa on the telly?”

Bubble Guppies – Having a fish tail is awesome but does not get you out of going to school.

Doc McStuffins – Stuffed animals experience pain and suffering, so you’d better put all 200 of them in your bed at night.

Team Umizoomi – Pattern power has something to do with math, but feel free to interpret it as a license to wear stripes with florals.

Curious George – Making mischief is downright adorable.

Whining will get you everywhere.

The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That! – Your mom will let you fly around in a plane with a strange cat if you just leave her alone to do the dishes, finally.

Jake and the Neverland Pirates – Pirate couture (headscarf, boots) is just as chic as princess dresses.

Caillou – Whining will get you everywhere.

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My Little Pony – Cutie marks are awesome. You should totally get a tattoo someday.

Barney - The real reason dinosaurs became extinct: They were annoying.

Shimmer and Shine - If your eyes don't take up at least half of your face, you are not wearing enough makeup.

Spongebob SquarePants – Dad will watch this show with you, because Mom doesn’t approve.

The Electric Company – Mom will watch this show with you, because seeing Lin-Manuel Miranda sing “Silent E is a Ninja” costs way less than tickets to Hamilton.

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