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Is 'Sesame Street' as Good for Kids as Preschool?

Who doesn't remember growing up with "Sesame Street"? Plus, in a growing parental culture of limiting kids' screen time, there may just be some news to help moms feel a little less guilt when they turn on a "Sesame Street" episode or two. A new study coauthored by Wellesley College's Phillip B. Levine and University of Maryland's Melissa Kearney found "evidence that the generation of children who were of preschool age when the show aired did better in school once they got there." The groups with which the study demonstrated particular significance was with young African-American boys and boys who grew up economically disadvantaged.

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Levine and Kearney were able to come to this conclusion by examining children who had different access to TV back in the late '60s when "Sesame Street" first started airing. The paper states, "Children who were preschool age in 1969 and who lived in areas with greater 'Sesame Street' coverage were significantly more likely to be at the grade-level appropriate for their age through school ... Living in a location with strong reception instead of weak reception reduced the likelihood of being left behind by 16 percent for boys and 13.7 percent for black, non-Hispanic children."

What's the ultimate point of this study, you ask?

According to the authors, "[The] analysis suggests that 'Sesame Street' may be the biggest and most affordable early childhood intervention out there, at a cost of a just few dollars per child per year, with benefits that can last several years ... These findings raise the exciting possibility that TV and electronic media more generally can be leveraged to address income and racial gaps in children's school readiness." This is something that early education programs like Head Start try to address as well.

So rest assured knowing that you can let your child watch Elmo, Big Bird, Cookie Monster and the rest of the "Sesame Street" gang guilt-free.

RELATED: Baby, Toddler Screen Time May Be OK After All

Image via PBS

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