MMM: What is on TV, Kids?

All good parents are well aware of the fact that too much television can do more harm than good. It acts as a babysitter, depriving children of real life interactions with human beings. It exposes them to advertisements, which often have underlying messages related to gender roles and consumerism, among other things.  However, if used correctly, tv can be a great learning tool. It's all a matter of finding what's good out there. Although Violeta hasn't watched that much tv in her 19 months, I have started to survey what's on the boob tube these days.

Unfortunately I have to report that what I have seen these days is garbage, straight garbage. I base this opinion on a number of things such as educational value, visuals, and writing. Hopefully my opinion will change as I watch more, but for now I'm not all that impressed.

What ever happened to quality children's television? By that I mean Sesame Street (luckily that's still around, but I prefer the earlier episodes), Romper Room, Mr. Rogers, and The Magic Garden (for those of you who grew up within a 75 mile radius of NYC).  They had educational experts who acted as consultants for the shows.  They had great musicians, performing all different genres of music.  Phonics, numbers, letters and other concepts were all taught in a creative, engaging way. And last but not least, these programs taught children about emotions and feelings, something that is lacking in today's programming.

Television doesn't have to be so harmful and negative. I think Fred Rogers, an important icon of my generation, said it best in an early interview:  "I went into television because I hated it so, and I thought there's some way of using this fabulous instrument to nurture those who would watch and listen."  He took a readily available tool and with it, became every child's friend. You just don't see that anymore.

What do we have now? High definition, digitized, 3-D animation that lacks the human touch. It's not about connecting with the person anymore, but rather making things flashy with the latest technology. And even that they haven't done well. I mean, look at what they've done to Mickey Mouse! He's down right scary.

As I said earlier, I'm not fully aware of all that's out there now. I can't speak like an expert because I'm only a partially informed mom. There are a few shows that I've seen that I think are decent. Dora the Explorer is Violeta's favorite. The show follows a formula of going on a journey to solve some dilemma, while singing and speaking in Spanish/English.  Another favorite of ours is Peppa Pig, a British animated series. I appreciate the artistic quality given to the exceptionally amusing characters, as well as the jokes that appeal to adults.

While I won't hold my breath waiting for the next Mr. Rogers to come along, I won't give up in my search for high quality children's television. Any suggestions you might have out there, please share them with us!

- Nicole & Violeta

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