— Here’s a note about a show I had not heard of. This post comes to us from David Kleeman a “playvangelist” at the PlayCollective, a research and strategy company in New York. For 25 years, he ran the American Center for Children and Media.
SEE ANNE PLAY by DAVID KLEEMAN
Finally, North America has a TV series for Free-Range Kids kids. If you have Amazon Prime, run (carefully…and not with scissors!) to check out Annedroids. In Canada, it will air on TVOKids.
Tween inventor and scientist Anne lives in a junkyard and fashions “droids” from bits and scraps. In the debut episode, she meets two neighbors – gamer Nick and irrepressible Shania. They become her collaborators in building and using droids and robots to carry out experiments.
There’s a social/emotional angle, as well. While Anne teaches science to Nick and Shania, they introduce the reclusive Anne to (as one of the young stars put it in an interview) “the science of friendship.”
That’s a triple threat: First, that a TV show lets kids explore unsupervised, use real tools, and figure things out for themselves. Second, that it shows cognitive and social-emotional engagement as inseparable. And third, that it destroys the tired dictum that boys won’t watch girl-led (smart girl led) series.
I believe one reason we struggle to have Free-Range kids in the U.S. is because we lack models in popular culture. Kids’ television channels (not just in the US) have standards-and-practices executives who vet episodes for dangers, especially if these might be replicable. So shows depicting adventurous, unsupervised kids making and doing things are rare.
Those standards vary widely across cultures, though. We can debate why: whether supervision is different in other places, or parents have different goals for their children, or other reasons. Still, as I’ve traveled the world seeking innovative and outstanding children’s media (for over 25 years!), I’ve been drawn to programs that put kids at the center, letting them do things for themselves.
There’s no mistaking the determination seen in a child building something of her own design, the real learning embedded in taking something apart, or the pride of a child who’s been taught to do something dangerous but productive.
Let’s just hope that after the kids watch Annedroids they take to the streets — or garages.