I was over at Al’s blog yesterday, where he’d provided a link to this video. I watched most of it:
If you’re not able to make it through, don’t sweat it. To save you the suspense, it culminates with a bunch of kids in faux hip-hop gear, wiggling around like they’re handicapped. It’s, y’know, it’s cute or whatever. I suppose they had fun making it. Or, anyway, the kids did.
Carey and I have begun preemptive discussions about the sorts of material we do and don’t feel comfortable about in terms of the gnomes’ entertainment requirements. As much as we want to avoid turning into a couple of squares, we’re more or less in agreement that TV really bites the big one, particularly in terms of what’s good for kids to watch. And I’m not talking about Nurse Jackie or Private Practice or whatever people are DVRing these days… and I’m really not even talking about Tooty Ta either (at least that’s getting kids off the carpet and exercising. Sort of). But, rather, the Clockwork Orange barrage of rapid-cut colors and fevered images that seems to be in vogue for pre-school aged children. The Yo Gabba Gabba, A.D.D.-inspired madness missiles that seem to be immediately addictive to every kid under 6.
Seriously, is there any hope for a child’s ability to calm down and focus if they’re being injected with visual Red Bull hours a day, every day? Are the findings of this Baby Einstein study all that surprising?
Backing up a little, I realize I know far less about any of these matters than just about anyone reading this. I’m sure every other parent-to-be in the universe is just as idealistic as Carey and I are. Nobody plans on plopping their kids in front of TV for hours on end, but, I get it, life happens.
When I was a kid, You Can’t Do That On Television was the thing. YouTube is a helpful reminder that the show was an inane mess, but, as an 8-year-old, I was mesmerized. The honeymoon didn’t last, though. Mom and Dad were not digging it and eventually told me it was BANNED from the Bear household.
I remember throwing a tantrum: “Why?? There’s no guns or fighting! There’s no swearing! No sex or adult situations! It’s a show for kids, starring kids! The most risque material in the whole program are booger references! WHAT’S THE PROBLEM??”
Dad’s response, I’ll never forget:
And that was that. For all I knew, it was a made-up word. My 8-year-old brain pictured some non-violent, non-sexy, insidious influence that was so sneakily corrosive, it was like ACID-TIMES-NINE. It was ACID-NINE.
Carey’s parents were even more arbitrary. In her home, daytime soaps were ok for kids, but Diff’rent Strokes and Growing Pains were too “inappropriate”. She figured out quickly that “inappropriate” was parental code for “we’d rather watch something else”.
But, you know, maybe that’s all parents do anyhow. Really, what determines what’s ok for kids to watch other than their parents’ admittedly arbitrary sensibilities? What’s the gold standard?
Growing up in the Christian bubble, I heard the answer all the time and I knew kids whose parents even framed it and hung it above the TV. Phillipians 4:8:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Clears that right up. I guess.
Ultimately, it’s up to my wife and I and I’m sure it’s going to come down to a case-by-case. I’ve never been in charge of someone else’s life before and I guess it’ll take a little getting used to.
So, what do you think? If you have kids, what’s in and what’s out? Where’s the line? If you’re having kids in the future, what’s the plan?
Am I missing something important? Is an attempt to control the viewing habits of children extremely stupid or foolish (i.e. ACID-NINE)?