Monday, February 19, 2007,11:25 PM
Random thoughts on children's television
I have a toddler. And although I am anal about certain parenting issues, TV isn't one of them. So Emma gets to watch TV. But with the wonderful new addition of TiVo to our household, I now have much greater control of the programs she watches. No longer am I stuck with whatever PBS Kid's Sprout has on (goodbye Barney and Sagwa), and Emma can have her Elmo and Dora fix whenever she desires. And while she still likes a few things I find seriously annoying (Teletubbies and the new Veggie Tales), I generally like Sesame Street and Dora the Explorer (which is a good thing, since I see a lot of them). So what is it I like about them?

It's hard not to like Sesame Street since I grew up watching it (which btw is the theme of its current advertising campaign). I like the diversity it portrays, its acceptance of all people and monsters, and the basic skills it teaches kids. And as I was noticing recently, it has philosophically evolved with the times to become more postmodern. When I was a child, I remember watching a segment/game called "one of these things is not like the others." In this game, kids were expected to use logic and reason to deduce which item by its outward appearance was different from the others. The game is still played on current episodes, but now with a postmodern twist. There isn't necessarily one right answer. Somethings may look different but in reality be the same as everything else. And there may be aspects of a thing that aren't apparent on the surface that in reality set it apart. Multiple answers, multiple perspectives, multiple truths. I like that.

Dora is a bit different. (As Kevin Smith pointed out, Dora only works for adults who are high...) I like the bilingual language skills it teaches, but I had an issue with how it labels its characters. One of the characters, a fox, is named Swiper, because he swipes stuff. I do not support enforcing negative behavior by causing a child to self-identify with that behavior. Label a kid "trouble-maker" and he will live up to that name. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. So I'm not too comfortable with how that's modeled on Dora. (BTW, Swiper is Emma's favorite character). But then I just saw an episode where Swiper gets into a bad predicament (a genie tricks him into switching places in a bottle with him). Instead of being happy that Swiper was in trouble or saying he got what he deserved, Dora, Boots, and their friends immediately offered to help Swiper. They felt sorry for him and did whatever they could to help him out. That's the type lesson in love and mercy that I want Emma to learn.

So for all the junk that is out there, there are a few good things on TV. And yes, I'm overthinking children's TV, but somedays that's all I got to think about...

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posted by Julie at 11:25 PM ¤ Permalink ¤


  • At 2/20/2007 08:59:00 AM, Blogger Makeesha

    we're not anal about tv either. we have dvr through comcast and I can't imagine tv viewing without it...esp. for the kiddos.

    Noggin is a favorite here and I particularly like it because it doesn't have commercials.

    but my dd is almost 5 and slowly but surely growing out of preschool shows and into more "mature" shows like strawberry shortcake and holly hobby movies. It makes me long for the days of Maisey and Sesame Street

  • At 2/20/2007 01:34:00 PM, Blogger Amy

    Sesame Street is great! I especially love the global Grover segment b/c it teaches kids about different places in the world. As mission minded parents, this fits with our values for looking at the world outside of our own American culture.

    Did you know you can watch old clips from Sesame Street from when we were little on You Tube? Hailey and I were watching some the other day. There were all these segments I forgot about - Sesame Street News Flash with Kermit T Frog, Don Music who banged his head on the piano (I heard they got rid of him b/c too many kids were banging their heads on the piano and it encouraged not handling frustration in a positive way), and all the human characters in seventies outfits.

  • At 2/20/2007 02:57:00 PM, Blogger Julie

    I love the Grover segments. I like how they explore multiple aspects of different cultures, and not always just the stereotyped popular aspects.

    It's funny how they've had to change other things as well. Since whole language is trendier than phonics these days, you don't see much of the Two-headed monster sounding out words. And Cookie Monster has learned that cookies are a "sometimes" food and tries to eat fruits and vegetables from time to time. His grammar still has issues ("me want cookie") though (as a child I would say "me want" all the time because of Cookie Monster).

  • At 2/21/2007 01:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous

    I am very picky as to what my daugthers watch as well. I found this great new DVD called The Berries "Friends Like You and Me". This DVD is very catchy and it teaches my girls about different thingss like Freindship, Colors, and Senses. I just wish the creators would create more episodes but I guess they need to get the word out about the program so they can get sponsorship to create more. Please help this great programming by spreading the word about The Berries. You will not be disappointed.
    Concerned Father.


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