Edutainment can be found in both schools and homes. It has long existed in one form or another, like chess, Scrabble, singing the ABCs, and a card game called Authors. On the fancy end of the spectrum, there are lavish interactive museums where visitors of any age can commune with science and discover wondrous revelations.
Even physical education is considered a classic example of the genre, and this has always been seen as an important factor in the general field of obesity prevention. The earliest sports involved no props, or only some object that could easily be found in nature — a branch, a log, a boulder. Today, games, toys, and media all play their parts in motivating kids to improve their bodies and minds.
For many decades now, movies and television have been purveyors of edutainment. “Sesame Street” is a primal example. In an area like childhood obesity, there are instructional shows, like how to perform a series of exercises, with music as their entertainment element. In the narrative, there is the vast area of documentary non-fiction, and then another spacious realm of fiction. Like it or not, movies and other audio-visual media have quite a lot of influence over what people grow up knowing and/or believing about obesity.
The whole idea of edutainment is to make learning fun, or at least passably enjoyable. Rewards, like points and levels, are considered very important to keep kids motivated. Amazingly, there used to be students who found Latin, algebra, and even calculus sufficiently entertaining and rewarding, in and of themselves. Some experts see the entire edutainment trend as problematic, but it is definitely here to stay, at least in certain cultures.
Examining young consumers
The authors of a serious academic paper about kids as consumers recommend looking up an episode of the Nutri Ventures series as an example of edutainment, and because this is what they showed to some of the 189 children who participated in their study. The kids, from two public schools, were divided into an experimental group and a control group. The researchers concluded that “isolated edutainment may not be enough to change preferences and food choices; instead it might even have an opposite effect.” Authors Diana Sintra and Luísa Agante wrote:
The purpose of this paper is to see if edutainment containing only healthy food can change children’s preferences and food choices toward healthy eating, especially in overweight or obese children…
This study aimed to identify if edutainment containing only healthy food could be more effective in childhood obesity prevention but instead it showed how complex the whole topic can be.
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Source: “What Is Edutainment? Tips for Mixing Education and Entertainment in the Classroom,” American.edu, 09/17/21
Source: “Edutainment in childhood obesity prevention: a complex topic,” Emerald.com, 05/07/21
Image by Korean Resource Center/CC BY 2.0