P.M. asks from Malvern, PA on January 21, 2009
Mom Looking for Good TV for My Kids
I am a mom of three. I have an 8 year old girl and 5 year old twin boys. I'm really frustrated with TV shows for kids. My children don't want to watch a lot of the shows they think are "baby shows" like Dora or Berenstein Bears. So, they have been watching iCarly, Hannah Montana, Drake and Josh and even Full House (last episode was about getting drunk). But, the content is often very focused on girlfriends and boyfriends. There is also a lot about kissing. I realize that is what 13-15 year old kids are interested in, but I highly doubt any real 13-15 year old kids are watching those shows. My kids seem too old for the "baby shows" and I really don't want them watching shows that focus so much on attracting the opposite sex. I'm not sure why these shows, which seemed to be geared toward children who aren't teenagers have so much older content.
I also am trying to avoid any violence. With two boys the same age, they tend to act out the shows they see.
Lastly, I want them exposed to shows where the children speak respectfully. You may think I'm completely crazy, but I don't allow them to watch Sponge Bob because when I've watched it, he talks in a disrespectful way.
Am I being way too uptight?
Can you suggest any entertaining, but not violent or sexual shows that are on TV?
My kids aren't allowed to watch a lot of TV, but when they do, I want it to be good TV.
J.G. answers from Philadelphia on January 24, 2009
You are not crazy. While my kids do tend to watch a lot of tv I am very picky about what they watch. They watch PBS Sprout or Disney and that's pretty much it. I completely agree with you about Sponge Bob. He doesn't teach anything but being disrespectful and bad manners. I'm not sure about tv for your kids..maybe ABC Family or the Hallmark Channel. I'm not 100% sure what kind of shows are on there but it's worth looking into.
B.H. answers from Philadelphia on January 22, 2009
I know of a great show for younger viewers in my oppinion. I have two little girls that LOVE to watch it, and yes they do act it out but that has never been a problem. There is definately cartoonlike violence/battle scenes but the overall message of the show is great and a lot of fun. It is called Avatar: the last airbender. You would probably want to view it first though to see if you believe it would fit well in your household. We have very strict rules about any sort of real violence in our home and our girls understand so the show was a hit for us.
D.L. answers from Philadelphia on January 22, 2009
I agree with you. I don't like sponge bob either. I have a 6 year old and I'm lucking he still likes the little kids show and these show other kids neigborhood like. Sid the Science kid, super why, and word world on PBS. Other great channels are Animal Plant Discover Channel with these good shows, How it's made, overhaulin, how stuff works, National Geographic Channel shows, Smithson channel shows,and Speed Channel for race car and motercycling shows. Most are not violent, and they are all educational.
Good luck I'm trying to keep my two boys away from those shows as long as possible.
P.H. answers from Philadelphia on January 22, 2009
I completely agree with you. I don't like SpongeBob or iCarly, though those are what my first grader wants to watch ("all the kids watch them"). Those shows are not appropriate for my 3 year old.
We compromise on Word Girl & Martha Speaks (on PBS) and Magic School Bus) on TLC. I enforce an only educational tv rule during the week and let them watch a little "junk tv" on the weekends. Good luck and stick to your guns! Patty
M.B. answers from Philadelphia on January 22, 2009
I know what you're going through. I have 3 girls (7, 5, and almost 3), who have very different tastes which further complicates things. Obviously you need to decide what shows you think are appropriate for your kids, which will depend on their maturity (not just ages) and your comfort level.
There are lots of other options for shows, though. Some of the PBS kids shows are not "babyish" - Arthur, Word Girl, Cyberchase, Maya and Miguel, and Martha Speaks are still popular with my 7 and 5 year olds while still appealing enough for the 3 year old. Also, you don't have to stick to "youth" programming for decent shows. My 7 year old LOVES cooking shows (Iron Chef, Rachel Ray, Paula Dean, Take Home Chef, etc.) and many home improvement shows (Trading Spaces, etc.). Some kids also love the animal and science type programs.
Another option would be to rent DVDs of shows you and the kids can agree on - my oldest two loved seeing The Brady Bunch, The Flintstones, etc. Blockbuster online has a decent selection of "old" TV shows. Also, my oldest loves Full House too, but there are the handful of episodes that are too mature. We've set a guideline that she can only watch the episodes where the kids are younger (you can also get these on DVD) - those ones seem to be almost entirely age appropriate.
I'm pretty strict with what my kids can watch too, especially when it comes to the disrespectful talk (for now those shows are the biggest battleground), but there are so many choices out there I'm sure you can find a middle ground. If necessary, I just tell them they can watch the shows I allow or watch nothing and that usually works. Good luck!
J.R. answers from Philadelphia on January 22, 2009
P. - First, you are not alone, and you are not crazy, and you are not being too uptight! I applaud the fact that you are trying to monitor what your kids watch and learn from the TV, media, etc. You and I could probably have a three hour conversation about it, bc I feel exactly the same why. And I have found a few other friends who feel the same, but not many. I cannot believe, first, what garbage is on TV today for kids, and second, that parents don't seem to have a problem w/ their kids watching it!! I believe a parent's number one job is to protect their kids and keep them safe....not just from predators, and physical dangers, but also from negative influences like the media. Kids are growing up so fast b/c of what they are exposed to at young ages. It's really sad.
Anyway, off my soapbox....I have an almost six year old girl who is still watching Calliou, Berenstain Bears, Franklin, etc. My seven year old son has just started to ask to watch Ben 10, Johnny Test, Danny Phantom, and The Clone Wars. I'm not big fans of these shows - I don't feel like there are many life lessons in the plot, it's more just for entertainment. So I limit how many he can watch, and I push for Ben 10 bc that seems to be the best one in my opinion. I'm a bit lax on the violence part - I feel like kids have been playing cops and robbers and cowboys and indians for ages, but I do not let them watch any older shows with portrayals of violence. They're not allowed to watch any grown up shows, including PG movies, American Idol, DWTS, etc. Believe me, they are anomalies at school and with their friends. But I don't care! My job isn't to be popular, it's to protect them! I despise Spongebob too, for the same reasons you mentioned. He's not exactly a good role model! My kids enjoy Tom and Jerry! Would you consider that? What about DVD's instead? I basically tell them, these are your choices of what you can watch, if you don't like the choices, then do something else. You are the parent, and shouldn't allow them to watch something you feel is inappropriate. Shame on the parents whose kids say a show is too babyish and they give in and let them watch something they shouldn't! Who is in charge? Did your parents do that? I know mine didn't! I explain to my kids that some shows have themes, scenes, that aren't okay for them, and help them understand where I'm coming from. They might not like it, but they will respect the parent who behaves that way, and will learn from it. Hannah Montana is a teenager - so teens should be watching her, not four year olds! Kids totally pick up on the sexual innuendo, and think that is cool, and begin to act it out. Unfortunately, their minds aren't mature enough to process what it really means.
One book I found informative, albeit disturbing, is "The Lolita Effect" by M Gigi Durham. You might want to pick it up to reinforce the fact that you are not crazy.
Good luck with it, and remember that you are being a great mom!!
T.M. answers from Philadelphia on January 21, 2009
Another mom had said that she did not like spongebob. I love that show. I guess i missed the episodes where he was disrespectful. He talks about friendship and has a wonderful work ethic :-) I do agree that the other shows you mentioned are geared toward preteens. I do let my kids watch them though. I do not feel that it is enough to influence them. I could be wrong. I love Cory in the House and the Suite Life. I do not think they are as bad as Icarly and Drake and Josh....those two are actually my least favorite.
Do you have on demand? You can choose what you want them to watch. One of my daughters is 7, she loves to watch Jon and Kate plus 8. That is the real life mom and dad with 8 kids. You can also select movies on there like Kit (the american girl doll). I have four daughters though...so not sure about the boys.
Hope i helped a little.