Friday, October 30, 2009

What're Your Kids Watching?

My kids have always watched TV. Probably too much, but I know that they learned from it, even at that "before 2" age when the experts recommend little to no television viewing. It was at this well-before-two stage that Amanda and I were walking into Costco and she pointed up with a flash of recognition and said, "O." Thank you, Sesame Street. Of course we read books, and I'm sure that some of those were ABC books, but the amount of letter recognition she displayed over the next few weeks did not come from me.

The same happened with Kyle, who at four and a half was suddenly reading. How could that be? Yes, he was read to -- perhaps more than Amanda, since she also read to her little brother, but as far as "instruction," he got less than Amanda did when she was his age. After looking at the shows he was watching more closely, I decided that shows like Word World and Super Why definitely had a hand in this. Once again -- thank you PBS!

But let's be honest -- the real reason that they watch TV is that it keeps them entertained.

Nick Jr. recently moved Blue's Clues to 7:00am and 7:30am, so Kyle in the last few months, Kyle discovered it for the first time. It was always one of my favorite kids' shows, so this thrills me. There's a lot out there, and most of the preschool offerings don't bother me at all (I could probably do without uber-excited Dora, but I don't want to kill her or anything).

The show that I really cannot stand is Spongebob. When Amanda was a preschooler (and an only child), I strictly limited her TV fare to the excellent preschool programs on Playhouse Disney, Nick Jr. and PBS, and Spongebob did not fit into that line up. However, as a mature 10-year-old, she recently started watching it (at the advice of her friends), and guess what -- her five-year-old brother joined right in. I try to limit it, and I really hate listening to it.

She was not only limited to preschool fare when she was a preschooler, but really didn't get into the whole Disney tween shows until she was almost 10 (an actual tween!). At that time, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody and Phineas and Ferb were introduced to our household. And truthfully -- I love them. I'll even pause and watch if I'm channel surfing when I'm home all alone.

Shortly thereafter, we became acquainted with Hannah Montana (who I also enjoy), and iCarly (very funny), The Wizards of Waverly Place, and True Jackson VP.

And because Kyle is always around, he also watches these shows. I am glad that I limited Amanda, and I still limit him when she's not around, but although these shows are above his maturity level, they are probably fine.

And along with the "How do you watch" question -- again, no TiVo here, so we just watch what is one when it's on. Kyle used to watch some Thomas DVDs, but he's mostly been a live TV watcher. Both of my kids preferred television shows to movies, and even when they did watch DVDs, it was of a TV show.

But I recently discovered that Netflix Instant Access has several seasons of iCarly, Hannah Montana, and the Suite Life, so Amanda's enjoyed that some. I DO like being able to encourage them to be discriminating -- to use their TV time to watch something that they really want to see, not just what's on at the moment -- and this has helped us do that to an extent.

Maybe I'll make some sort of TV chat a weekly Friday feature. I like the interaction that I got last week. So I ask you: What do your kids watch? What kids' shows drive you nuts? Which ones do you actually look forward to watching?

Edited Friday night to add a link to Beck's post (from October 2 because I'm a horrible blog-reader lately) on the same subject. She gives a play by play of each tween show, including if there are any good-looking men worth watching. Ha.


Martha said...

My kids are like yours, they love TV. I was not as good about limiting but have the same issue with the youngest watching things not necessarily on his level. We did Rugrats (which I never minded) and Spongebob. We are late on the Suite Life and Phineas and Ferb...just started watching this past summer and all the kids sing the songs. Boys like Total Drama Action and Naruto (when it was on). My kids love the free on demand on our Verizon FIOS. They do DVR shows and watch them over and over. It's nice to have things to watch together. Thanks for making TV ok to do with the kids.

Musings of a Housewife said...

Interesting convo. I admit that we watch all of the shows you listed, but my daughter is 6, and I do feel that it's a little young. I don't like the topics of dating and such at this young age. But my son is 9, and PBS doesn't cut it anymore.

Beck said...

My 10 year old isn't interested in dating herself, but the idea that dating might happen SOMEDAY has occurred to her - and the light-hearted way that those shows deal with dating seems age-appropriate. But even her younger siblings enjoy the show, and honestly i don't feel like any of the topics discussed are in any way racy or inappropriate. Some of the humour is BEYOND lame, though!

We love Phineas and Ferb! It's totally funny and subtle and smart.

Katrina @ Callapidder Days said...

C (11) watches almost zero TV -- usually, he just watches whatever weekend fare we happen to have on: Food Network, Discovery, etc.

L loves anything Nick Jr. right now -- Wonder Pets, Backyardigans, Max & Ruby. And he watches quite a bit.

Spongebob is outlawed in this house, along with Barney. :)

Nancy said...

We watch mostly on DVR, which means I or my husband get to pick what they watch. Right now my 3 year old loves Max & Ruby (where ARE the parents?), Dora and Diego. The 6 year old recently discovered Discovery Kids so likes Bindi, Hip Hop Harry and the like.

Spongebob, Barney and Teletubbies are ALL outlawed in my house. We let the 6yo watch Spongebob for a while until we realized he was picking up some not so great behavior from it, so he is no longer allowed.

Phineas and Ferb is a cute little show, though they don't watch it often. Oh and the 6yo went through a phase where he wanted nothing but Word World so I think he got tired of it, having seen every episode eleventy billion times. So it's another we haven't watched lately.