Autism, Children's Health, children's television, family, Parenting

Children’s Television

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Muffin at about 1 year

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.

Amen.

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5 thoughts on “Children’s Television”

  1. This is interesting. Since my wife and I don’t have TV anymore I’ve completely lost touch with what’s out there. BUT, your post resonates with me for another reason as well. YA literature nowadays goes a lot further with the sexual stuff than the old days of THE HARDY BOYS and NANCY DREW!

    Now, the issue isn’t: did Heather, the cheerleader have sex with Blane the quarterback. Now it’s how many times did they do it in her parents’ bedroom! Our visual and reading culture have turned a corner, and the ratings game of movies is laughable. While teens have access to almost anything, I think the pre-school and elementary isn’t so tech savvy, but I’m probably naïve on that score as well! :-/

    We, here in the USA keep raising the adolescent bar. Here in 2016, we consider eighteen year olds as simply kids. When I moved into the seventh grade in 1960, a senior high student was a full-fledged adult. Of course 1960 is ancient history!

    At any rate, I think you’re right to be concerned!

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    1. For these exact reasons, I keep a close eye on what my oldest reads and watches. We’ve had the discussion about what actions are appropriate for what age – and when it comes to sex, I want him to know where babies come from (ignorance is not bliss), but I’ve also made it clear he better be 18 (or I’m dead) before such things are going on in his life. Sex and drugs and the like are not a status symbol, like fashion or your hobbies or if you’re good at sports. At least, it shouldn’t be. I am very pleased with Nickeledeon for continuing to raise the bar in terms of quality TV, just like in years past.

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  2. I definitely agree. Gone are the days where friendship, honesty, family and responsibility were heavily portrayed on kids shows, as well as teen shows. Boy Meets World taught me so much about life and how to handle practically any situation. Cory and Tapanga clearly end up having sex together in their later years but it’s never actually mentioned. I understood that to be a thing as I got older. Before that I was just stuck on the friendships and family lessons.
    Today at least there are shows like My Little Pony, which stresses the importance of treating your friends and others the right way. But something like Sponge Bob has even become questionable. Remember the episode where they were basically cursing the whole time? Don’t they know how many young kids watch that show?? Why would they think it’s ok?
    It is perfectly acceptable to micro manage what your child watches. If it were up to society there would be little to no hope for them in the real world. They would learn nothing of manners and respect. They’d be lucky to get out there with decent morals.
    Also, Kipper was GREAT show!

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    1. Muffin has watched Kipper DVDs from the library, and we generally avoid cartoons that I wouldn’t let White Fang watch when he was younger. And, yes, there is a whole lot to indicating something – rather than just showing it – especially when the audience is old enough to appreciate different aspects of things. I’m big on indicating things – it’s how I write a lot. I honestly don’t think there’s a need to show so much – even for adults!

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