I don’t have an issue with my kids watching TV. I’m not a parent that sees it as a bad thing. My bigger concern is with the choice of viewing. That I closely monitor.
(I’ll be referring to all American channels; so, sorry, my foreign subscribers, if some of this you can’t relate to.)
When White Fang was little, it was CBeebies (the BBC for kids) — which includes such fantastic things as Bob the Builder, Kipper, and of course Thomas the Tank Engine. Nowadays, Muffin generally watches PBS Kids; his favorites there are the new Bob the Builder, and Odd Squad (which is interesting because the target age for that program is 8 and up). The NickJr show of the moment is PAW Patrol. He will watch that until he’s blue in the face, if I let him. He wants the related toys and merch, all of it.
For a while, White Fang wasn’t really watching any TV, since he didn’t care for a lot of the shows aimed at his age group (except for Ninjago). But in the last year or so, TeenNick has made a big impression with The Thundermans and Henry Danger. And for some reason, Muffin likes to watch these, too.
Something that really strikes me about programming for teens right now is the big gap between what’s considered acceptable on certain networks. For example, on Freeform (it used to be ABCFamily), almost all the shows targeting the viewers ages 13-19 seem intent on portraying adolescents as hyped up on hormones, vampire romances, and living dangerously. When I was a high schooler, I loved the bananas out of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But partly because I felt there was always an underlying message in that show about not letting the dark side drive you too far from your humanity. Today, I really don’t think writers/directors/producers are as insistent on including that vital tidbit.
So, I wouldn’t let White Fang watch certain channels, anyway. But I figure I must be doing something right since he selects what I see as appropriate viewing without my direction.
In The Thundermans, Henry Danger, and Ninjago, there’s no swearing, the violence is toned down and not gory and has a point (for example, capture the villain, defeat the bad guys), and if there’s romance, it sticks to kissing and wanting to date a peer you find attractive. I have absolutely no problem with any of this. There are other themes that resonate with my parenting style as well — how to be a good friend, choosing where your loyalty lies and sticking to it, that family love and honesty is important.
I was already planning on sending Muffin over to these types of shows when he’s old enough; it turns out White Fang has already done that for me. Both my boys regularly watch these programs together.