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Your Kids Should Watch Ms. Rachel

By Andrew Sanford | TV | July 19, 2023 |

By Andrew Sanford | TV | July 19, 2023 |


Screenshot 2023-07-19 at 10.47.25 AM.png

Screen time is a hotly debated topic in my home. When I grew up, there was more of a no-holds-barred approach. All that mattered to my mother was that my brothers and I weren’t beating each other. There weren’t very tight restrictions either. My older brother is four years my senior. If he liked something, we watched it (hence me seeing Ghostbusters when I was at least two years old. There is footage.). That was also the case with my mother, which is why I don’t remember the first time I saw The Shining. I know I was young.

My wife was not raised that way. Nor does she want our twin two-year-olds raised that way. We aim for minimal screen time (which I don’t mind) and try to let them watch things made specifically for toddlers. It is on this sticking point that I often push back. “I watched whatever I wanted, and I turned out fine,” I often say to my wife. She usually responds with a simple question, “Did you?!” Which is fair. Still, I was hesitant to feed my kids a steady diet of children’s programming. Then my wife found Ms. Rachel, and my resolve to shield my children from kid’s television grew stronger.

For those without children, Ms. Rachel is a Youtube show created by former preschool teacher Rachel Griffin-Accurso. In it, Ms. Rachel goes through games and songs designed to teach kids from infancy to early education. I found it almost unbearable. Luckily, I’m not the target audience. Nor was that Rachel’s intention. It is a show made for “littles,” as the former title suggests. As detailed in a recent Wired article, it had humble beginnings and has since launched Rachel to preschool celebrity status.

I understand why kids like it. It’s laden with bright colors and big smiles. The songs are fun and infectious. My kids have been singing along to songs for some time (no big deal), but they come alive when Rachel begins a rendition of “Hop Little Bunnies.” They also learn. My kids have watched Sesame Street, and they love Sesame Street, but even that classic show can go over their heads. Part of that, I think, is that Sesame Street attempts to appeal to a wide range of kids. Ms. Rachel is on Youtube and can tailor her videos more specifically.

There was a time when I was nervous about a generation of kids raised on Youtube. It never even crossed my mind that kids could end up in weird, predatory relationships with the people they were watching. I saw my then five-year-old niece recording herself on a tablet and saying, “Make sure to like and subscribe,” without knowing what she was saying. It freaked me out! Turns out that, like any TV, it’s just about monitoring what your kids watch.

Yes, my kids watch Youtube, but they don’t get free reign. I can decide whether or not they watch The Lego Batman Movie (which they love) but not Batman V Superman (which I love). I want them to watch things I like, but only within reason. That said, they don’t learn anything from Will Arnett being hilarious as the Caped Crusader. The themes of teamwork and making friends that the film provides will help them later, but now they just see bright colors, Batman, and Robin (they love Robin).

When my kids watch Ms. Rachel, they are learning. They are getting screentime, but it is valuable screentime. There will be a time when I can share my favorite movies and shows with them. Honestly, that has started a bit already. For now, they’re going to watch Ms. Rachel more often than not. They are going to learn. And while I didn’t like Ms. Rachel much at first, the more I watched her with my kids, the more I understood. She’s doing the lord’s work, so maybe Youtube ain’t that bad.