The ABCs of COVID-19: A CNN/Sesame Street Town Hall for Kids

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
The ABCs of COVID-19: A CNN/Sesame Street Town Hall for Kids TV Poster Image
Upbeat special helps empower kids during uncertain times.

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age 18+
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Educational Value

It answers questions about Covid-19, including how it spreads and how we can protect ourselves from it. Basic reminders about washing hands and social distancing are consistently repeated. It also offers suggestions about how spend time and be socially connected while sheltered-in-place, and how to deal with big emotions. Parents are given information about how to speak to their kids, how to help them stay focused on school work, and how to best use resources they already have. 

Positive Messages

It attempts to demystify what COVID-19 is and the concerns about it while helping children manage their concerns and fears about it. It also frames the recommended health and safety guidelines as ways to help their families and communities. Messages also include being kind, saying “I love you” to your loved ones, and saying thank you to essential workers. Grieving the death of loved ones is discussed. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Anchors and experts are kind, good listeners, and empathize with children, parents, and puppets. They gently give firm answers about what they should and should not do in order to keep themselves and others healthy, and are honest about not having answers when they are unavailable. Sesame Street characters are positive and want to help.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The ABCs of Covid-19 is a series of virtual town hall meetings hosted by Sesame Street and CNN that answer kids' questions about the Covid-19 pandemic. Questions are posed by young children around the world, which are answered by experts who provide simple, clear explanations that they will understand. Advice and resources are also offered to parents to ensure the physical and mental well-being of their children. With the help of the Sesame Street characters, the interactions are upbeat, positive, and designed to help children have a better understanding of what is going on around them, and how to cope with it in healthy ways. 

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Teen, 13 years old Written bywes0123 June 21, 2020

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SCARYY SCARYY SCARYYYYYYTTTTYTY

What's the story?

THE ABCs OF COVID-19: A CNN/SESAME STREET TOWN HALL FOR KIDS are special televised meetings for kids and their parents to help them manage the changes in their lives thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. CNN anchor Erica Hill, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Big Bird moderate the virtual community discussions about what the virus is, why we need to take precautions, and ways to stay healthy. Folks from Sesame Street, including Elmo, Rosita, Cookie Monster, and Abby Cadabby ask questions, talk about the range of emotions they feel about the changes in their lives, and share the different things they are doing to occupy their time while sheltering in place. Special guests like Olympic gymnasts Simone Biles and Laurie Hernandez, talk about their experiences, too. With the help of doctors, school officials, and other experts, questions posed by kids and parents around the world are answered. 

Is it any good?

These excellent presentations feature medical experts, education professionals, and the cast of Sesame Street helping children make sense of the pandemic. It also offers parents information and advice on how to support them. Specific things that kids can do to help stay safe and healthy, like hand washing, social distancing, and wearing a mask when outside, are repeated consistently throughout the program. Ways they can work through their sadness, fear, frustration, and other emotions, are also explained in very simple, concrete, and non-judgmental terms. Meanwhile, parents are offered advice and resource information about things like distance learning and limiting kids’ screen time. Conversations geared towards adults also address ways to talk to children about some of the more complex issues surrounding the pandemic. This includes understanding the rising numbers of sick people in Black and Latinx communities, and the loss, and ongoing fears, of losing loved ones. 

Just like Sesame Street, experts promote speaking to children gently, but honestly, about these issues, and about the fact that they don’t have all the answers. But what makes this town hall especially helpful is that it communicates a strong, clear message to children that they can help their families and communities by being kind, telling loved ones they care, saying "thank you" to helpers, and following the recommended steps to protect themselves. In doing so, it gives these acts a larger sense of purpose, and empowers children by making them feel that they are helping to solve the problem in some way. Overall, The ABCs of Covid-19 is a sweet, positive, and constructive viewing experience that goes far in helping all of us understand that we have the ability to weather uncertain times if we work together. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how they are dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. What advice does The ABCs of Covid-19 offer for keeping your family safe and healthy? What precautions has your family taken? Why is doing so important?

  • How is washing your hands, social distancing, and wearing masks helping others during a pandemic? What about being kind? What kinds of character strengths are you demonstrating when you do these things?

  • Navigating the changes in our lives due to COVID-19 and other unexpected phenomena can be challenging. Here are some great resources to help your family through it.

TV details

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