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Communicating with children

Guideline 1C

Use special effects judiciously and wisely


Learning and entertainment come from a good story and characters. Special effects were developed to make something special that was ordinary. For example, a close-up camera shot, or “zoom” is used to get viewers to pay attention to something important, while a specific camera angle might make us look at something from a different perspective. In today’s commercial TV culture, fast pace, continuous change of frames, pixilation and dozens of visual and auditory effects are the norm and can oftentimes detract from the important message.

If video, audio or print communication is cluttered or frenetic, these special effects may distract, rather than focus, causing the production to lose potential value. While still attracting a new generation of sophisticated media consumers, it is important to remember balance: one that accommodates and supports learning of children without overburdening their minds.

Positive Example: Use special effects judiciously and wisely


Triggerfish animation* - A series of television spots, produced as part of Takalani Sesame, the South African co-production of Sesame Street. The animated figures reflect Black African skin, hair and music, as well as indigenous wire toys and low-cost items used for play. The spots are simple, clear and at a pace appropriate for the young child. They nurture creativity and cooperation. Their local style differentiates from most imported series as an example of culturally appropriate communication.


 Turning Theory into Practice

This guideline can be translated into communication in many ways, including:

  • Only using special visual or auditory effects (close-ups, zooms, different camera angles, auditory sounds, etc.) to teach or emphasize a key message or relevant aspect of a message
  • Pre-testing all communication to make sure that the message is central and clear
  • Experimenting with communication that is slow-paced and reflective, especially for young children, neo-literates and children living in difficult circumstances



 Guideline 1A  Guideline 1B Guideline 1C 


* Sesame Street ® and its international coproductions (Sisumpur and Takalani Sesame), associated characters, trademarks and design elements are owned and licensed by Sesame Workshop. ©2011 Sesame Workshop. All Rights Reserved. Children’s Live Action Films and Animations provided courtesy of Sesame Workshop (New York, New York). Return to text



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