Content Analysis: Blue’s Clues Ep. 53 (Signs)

Let me start by saying, as a nanny for many years, over the years I have watched my share of Blue’s Clues. However never once did I notice the “signs” being shown. Now maybe that has something to do with my attempt to pay as little attention to the new era of preschool television as possible, I do not know. What I do know is that the twins I care for at the moment watch Blue’s Clues every evening before bed and have done so for over a year, with this in mind, not once have I ever seen them repeat any “signs” they have seen from the show. So without further ado I will reflect on the particular episode our class watched Monday, August 29th.

Our group (Erica, Maisah, Tiffany, Lenisha, Ariana) found a series of signs, while only about 10 of them were repeated enough times to be memorable. Here is a list of the signs our group noticed: blue, eat, no, goodbye, quiet, writing, help, drive, go, this way, bridge, thank you, outside, hi Steve, good morning friends, good morning sun, good morning kitten, good morning book, good morning dog, good morning blue, good morning Steve, have a wonderful day, C, see, definitely, one sunny day, a girl, was sitting by a tree, great, eating, i understand, stood up, walking, next part, scared, elephant, friends, bye, table, thinking, where, signs. And this list is just a list of the individual signs seen, not of how often either of these signs was portrayed.

In response to whether or not content analysis is the best way to study media effects, my opinion is that on its own no it is not, but as part of a bigger research project it has its merits. According to Glenn G. Sparks, author of Media Effects Research our textbook for this class, “Content analysis […] helps us to discover what content is present that might be bringing about various effects” (pg. 20). Content analysis allowed us to compile a collection of the various signs used, by whom, how and when. The data collected would be useful for research.

Last semester, I worked on a quantitative research project where content analysis, had we decided to use it, would have been very helpful when categorizing the verbal and nonverbal communication we were observing. If only as a means of organizing the abundance of data we collected for the qualitative research paper.

As a means of objectivity and systematic, content analysis is very effective for a team of researchers, so that all the data is fluid and consistent. In terms of efficiency, content analysis is overwhelming in regards to the Blue’s Clues episode the class viewed. My group stumbled through the parts where the signs were being fired at us rapidly, even with the professor rewinding and replaying the episode. And if a group of college-aged students find the episode and the information it contained overwhelming, it is no wonder the 4-year-old twins I look after have no idea they are getting a crash course in American Sign language.

Tiffany Lempesis


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