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Television and Our Children

Alright, mamas!  Let’s take a look at what are kiddos are watching on TV.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends children under the age of two not watch any television and that children older than two watch 1 to 2 hours per day of quality programming.* Yet so many of the moms I talk to are similar to me and, at the very least, have their television on as background noise.  And when we do let our kids watch TV, many of us rely on Nick Jr. and Disney to be said “quality” programming.  But are these characters the best role models for our children?  Let’s take a look at a few, shall we?

Study #1 – Blue’s Clues (Role Model: Joe)
Seriously, sometimes these characters act like they aren’t any older than three themselves.  Just the other day, Joe (I always want to call him Steve) was trying to teach our young about what we do when we wake up in the morning.  The first thing is to “do, do do, do, do”…did you catch that middle “do do”…is go potty.  So he’s leading us through the motions like he’s in charge, but after Blue does his deed, Joe can’t remember what to do next.  He looks so confused and looks directly at my son for help as he scratches his chin.  “Hmmm, what are we supposed to do next?” Then a little kids voice from inside the TV calls out, “FLUSH!” And all of a sudden, Joe is reminded, “right, flush!” And he smiles and sings his “do do” song.  Sure, we all forget things from time to time.  Understood.  But then seconds later as he’s coaching Blue through washing his hands, he looks all sorts of confused again and asks, “what do we wash?” to which some child shouts out, “hands!”  Really, Joe?  You couldn’t remember that we wash our hands after we go potty.  This is quite disturbing to me now.  And this isn’t the first episode like this…he’s confused and at a loss for words in most.  Beware, mothers.  Beware.

Study #2 – Dora The Explorer (Role Model: Dora)
Here we have a really cute, likable young lady.  I won’t go into it now how her hairstyle bugs and that she should think about changing her outfit every now and then, but I do want to talk about her attentiveness.  One episode that concerned me was when several watermelons were rolling down a hill or mountain and she was more concerned with looking back at the camera and asking my children to tell her to jump than she was about just watching for the dang fruit and jumping for herself.  The lessons being taught her are to ask your friends for help rather than be responsible for yourself and doing what you need to do to take care of business. Same with her relationship with Swiper.  She’s always asking for help to lookout for this crazy thief, but nine times out of ten he’s right behind her.  If she’d just be a little more vigilant, she might get further in life. Just sayin’.

Study #3 – Special Agent Oso (Role Model: S.A. Oso) 
Here we go again with a leader of kidville acting as the leader, then proving that he falls short in so many ways.  The episode that sticks out here is when he riding on some sort of super fast subway and opens the door so that two of his Agent buddies can ride their motorcycles up into the craft.  Someone tells him to wrap it up and he doesn’t shut the door in time and the subway’s open door clips the wall of a tunnel and stops the rail machine from moving any further.  Clearly, costing the city and tax payers mucho dinero!  But before he can deal with this crisis, he’s being called half way across the world to help a little girl pick strawberries or catch a ball or something.  When he gets there to help her, he calls for help from our children to help him figure out the steps, even though his palm pilot gives them to him.  I guess the good news is after he learns from our kids, he goes back to his agency and fixes the major problem at hand.  Whew!

Study #4 – Dino Dan (Role Model: Dan)
First of all, where is his dad?  They never get around to that!  And I’m not crazy about how he rolls his eyes at his mom almost every time she says something to him.  But, what I’m really worried about is how bossy little Dan can get sometimes.   When he’s not telling his little whiny brother what to do, he’s bossing Angie around. Go here. Go do this.  Go get that.  To which she willingly agrees with a smile.  But the craziest part is every time she comes back, she finds out she just missed seeing a dino.  Wouldn’t you think the next time, she’d tell Dan to go take care of something for himself for once so she can get a glimpse of a brachiosaurus?

Study #5 – Fresh Beat Band (Role Model: Marina)
No, no, no! I’m not going to get into the fact that the first actress who played Marina got preggers and left the show.  Gasp!  (I had to Google “Marina +Fresh Beat +where is she now” to find that out!)  Anyway, kids aren’t dumb.  You can’t replace a character with someone who clearly doesn’t look like the old character and call them the same person.  At least Blue’s Clues got a Joe instead of Steve.  They didn’t try to pass of Joe as Steve.  So how can the Fresh Beats do this to our kids?  “Mom, why are they calling that girl Marina?” Now my son hasn’t said that yet, but I know he’s thinking it.

My point here is this.  These shows can take it step higher.  Dan, involve Angie every now and then.  She’s woman, here her roar!  And maybe then she can share in those magical moments when you hear a dinosaur roar (do they roar???).  These shows don’t have to manipulate our kids.  Fresh Beat, you don’t have to try and trick our kids into believing your new Marina is the old Marina.  If their parents are doing a good enough job at home, they won’t find out that the old Marina got preggo.  It’s a TV show, so you could just write in the story that Marina left for college and look, there’s a new girl in town named Jenny or Kaitlyn.  These shows don’t have to interact with our children.  Can’t we do enough as parents where they aren’t looking for that kind of connection from TV?  Do they need characters talking TO them and looking directly AT them? I’m just concerned that when our kids are 22 they’ll be wondering why Ross and Rachel aren’t asking them questions when they’re watching reruns of that classic show from the 1990s.  Or they’ll feel unappreciated when the dude from House doesn’t ask them for their medical opinion. Or why Norm doesn’t shout out their name when they walk into the room.  (I know, now I’m getting a little dated…but they may watch an episode or two of Cheers.)

Of course, if you know me, I’m not at all serious about this.  It’s just funny to me at 6 in the morning when these characters are shouting out questions to my sons and I’m trying to get a few more zzz’s on the couch.  Or the fact that I really did wonder what happened to the “old” Marina.  So you know, I do limit the amount of TV watched though I admit that it’s almost always on as background noise and I plan on changing that with our move.  So I hope you enjoyed this post and if you have any mentions from these or other kiddie shows/cartoons, things that just drive you crazy about a show, I’d love love love to hear them!  Thanks for reading!  I hope you laughed a little.  

*Parents Urged Again To Limit TV For Youngest

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