I have many things in common with my friends in the same age range as myself. Among these shared experiences that define a generation, for the most part, we all watched Sesame Street as children. When we reminisce, we remember Mr. Hooper. We remember when Big Bird was the only character to be able to see Mr. Snuffleupagus. Our Sesame Street golden age was before the Rise of Elmo and before Sesame Street began catering to the development needs of toddlers.
Elmo, however, has been more involved with important social issues than any other character on the television show for kids. He has been promoting financial literacy for at least a decade, helping adults teach children about responsible relationships with money. He is also the only non-human to testify before Congress. Today, Elmo has teamed up with Beth Kobliner, author and member of the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability, to teach kids about making better purchasing decisions and saving money.
This latest initiative is tied to Financial Literacy Month. Although personal finance is Consumerism Commentary’s topic every month of the year, each April, various organizations participate in initiatives to raise awareness of the need for financial literacy, and the need for young people to learn how to create a positive approach towards money. Sesame Street has often been a great help to parents introducing new concepts to their children.
Watch the Sesame Street videos, titled “For Me, For You, For Later,” featuring Elmo and Beth Kobliner here. The videos will work best with conversations with parents. For example, the segment in which Elmo is swayed by marketing for the Stupendous Ball could be used to help kids see through advertising claims and frivolous “features,” but will only be possible with some additional guidance, because the segment is focused on saving for expensive purchases, and in the end, sharing and settling for what might be a better deal. Videos like these can be effective gateways to the right direction for kids, but the messages will be lost if children don’t have positive role models in real life.
Published or updated April 13, 2011.