The Dora Effect

A wise man and I had a funny conversation a couple of weekends ago regarding an episode of Nick Jr.’s Dora the Explorer, where when approached by a huge snake she simply tells the snake, “no snake no” (or something to that effect) instead of running away or calling for help. As impressionable and copycat as kids are, don’t you think this is an unwise move by Dora writers?

What if the Bronx Zoo Cobra landed in your kids room and like Dora simply told it “no snake no” for it to go away? You’d have bigger problems than trying to sue Dora/Nickelodeon. Whereas I can understand telling the swiper, “swiper no swiping” because it’s more of a lesson learned, “don’t steal kids… and don’t let others steal if you can help it.”

So I was curious of what parents thought of the show, and this example specifically. I asked my panel of mommy’s and daddy if they let their kids watch Dora, if their kids really learn valuable street-smart or not, and I got a grab-bag of responses.

Meet Ty – 1 girl
“From a parents point of view, it’s irresponsible. It’s setting an unrealistic safety situation that IF something is dangerous, even something that is not a snake, can just be “told off” or dismissed by telling it off and wishing it to just *poof*. …It’s an episode that should be pulled. It’s a situation that should be reevaluated and sent out by Dora’s artistic and legal team.

It’s a realistic situation that could be potentially dangerous and terminal to a child. It’s not a pleasant retelling of St. Patrick driving the snakes from Ireland. It’s a kids show.”

Meet Jeannine – 3 girls
“My girls rarely watch Dora these days!  To be honest, I’ve never seen the value in the messages, (if they are messages), in the Dora episodes. She’s persistent, makes a plan, states it over and over and over again, sticks to it and does get it done. I’ll give her that, but life lessons, not so much!

And trust me, if there was a snake in Cece, Grace or Hannah’s room, you’d hear them screaming from very far away!”

Meet Becca – 2 boys, 1 girl
“My kids have only seen a few episodes of Dora, but they like it, and as a parent, I like it too. I think you’re approaching the episode very literally.  I think the point of educational TV shows for kids is to teach them life lessons; how to deal with other kids (sharing, working together, accepting someone different, diffusing difficult situations, etc), vocabulary, math, reading, those kinds of things.

I think in this instance, it may have been about providing an example to kids of how to say no to something that they don’t like or want, and simply just reiterating/reinforcing the lesson shown when they say, “Swiper, No Swiping!” I don’t think it was trying to deal specifically what to do if you come across a snake. Dora in general is pretty simple/basic – I don’t think they’re going for anything beyond basic skills for kids!”

Readers, please weigh-in. What do you think?

One Comment

  1. Kym Mitala

    I think that Dora is a good influence for child learning. In reference to the snake controversey, I think that the Dora creators may use the negative feedback as inspiration to even better their shows in the future. 🙂 I, personally, think deeply into things; and, as a teaching biologist, would be interested in seeing how the Dora creators might have Dora approach a similar situation in the future with more emphasis on the actual actions taking place and how to respond. Then, again: Maybe watching Dora’s cousin Diego in this sort of situation would give a child (& adult) a better example of how to deal with a snake encounter. Afterall, realistically speaking, we humans all seem to have unique skills; Dora and Diego frequently work with each other in certain episodes, providing a good underlying idea for children on how we can depend on each other for help and learning.

    Last but not least, my daughter is an only-child, and I feel that Dora and Diego are characters that my daughter can relate to on a peer-level at home. Of course, I regulate her TV-viewing of the episodes. Yes, I feel that by watching Dora and Diego, my daughter is aided in building her street and nature skills. For example, I use Dora and Diego references to encourage my daughter’s Spanish-speaking skills; and I encourage her to interact with the episodes not only by listening and responding to Dora and Diego’s prompts, but by using her own collection of toy props that relate to each episode.

    Many teaching tools are amongst us, and I believe that Dora and Diego, like any teaching tool, are effective if applied logistically.

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