I guess that, as an educator, I am supposed to say that TV rots kids’ brains and in a perfect world, they wouldn’t watch any. However, that is not how I feel at all. Quality television shows can be helpful and educational to children in ways that I am not able to as a teacher or parent. I also think that they can help to enforce what we are teaching our children and help them remember lessons and concepts.
I really want to stress how the television show needs to be a quality one because I think that some shows can reinforce negative life-lessons and behaviors. Before I post some reviews of television shows, I want to share what makes a quality show, in my opinion. I am very critical of what shows my children watch, so any that get my “seal of approval” should feel pretty lucky (ha!).
Some criteria I look for in a quality TV show for toddlers and young children….
• I am all about preserving the innocence in our children. I seriously am; let our kids just be kids. So, I think this should be reflected in the show that they are watching. They should be geared toward the minds of our children. They should use kid-friendly language and situations.
• I like non-competitive shows. Ok, let me explain this one. Some friendly competition is ok, but I have seen too many crazy one-upping shows. I don’t like it. I think that it gets too nasty for our audience. I don’t like the idea that there has to be a winner and someone has to be better than everyone else. If you have watched a lot of kid’s shows, I’m sure you know what I am talking about.
• Diversity. I like shows that honor diversity. I love shows that honor and represent children of different ethnicities, disabilities, living situations and just children that are just different themselves. This is very important to me. I always want my child to be honored for her differences and I want her to respect the differences in others, period.
• Gender equality. I don’t know if this should be separate from diversity, but I think that it is sooo important. I am just going to say it-ready? Ready for it? All girls do not have to be princesses and all boys do not have to like construction. Some do, and that is fine, however, I want my kids to see boys and girls doing anything, even if it isn’t stereotypical behavior for their gender. This is what I am talking about….
• I think that the shows that my kids watch should have some type of substance. I know that it is ok for me to watch hours of such gems as Real Housewives of Anywhere, but that isn’t what I want for my kids. They should have it better. I like for their shows to have some type of lesson or problem-solving whether it be educational or a life lesson. They should learn to share, play well with others, solve a mystery, learn their ABC’s’, whatever.
• I also think that the show needs to be enjoyable for kids. When a show is engaging because it is visually stimulating or humorous or whatever, I think that kids have a better chance of understanding and remembering whatever substance the show has to offer.
• Lastly, although we cohabitate on the same planet, toddlers live in different worlds than us. A quality television show needs to reflect that the writers understand this concept. They need to know, for example, how hard it is to hand over a prized possession, such as a train, to a friend to share. They need to show that a child doesn’t want to go to the potty because they don’t want to miss out on all of the fun that will be had while they are gone. Children can relate and connect to these issues and the show that they are watching should reflect this understanding.
• Bonus: Some exposure to enrichment topics such as arts and musical instruments is a nice addition. I want my children to be lifelong learners, no question. I don’t know what they are going to be interested in learning about quite yet (except books, of course). I want them to have exposure to different areas of enrichment to challenge them in a different ways.
There you have it! As you can see, I am very critical of what shows my children watch, so any that get my “seal of approval” should feel pretty lucky……