Children’s Writing on TV

Posted on July 5, 2011

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As an active parent of a 3-year-old, I am having a problem with some of the children;s programming. I am noticing that most of the shows are absent of adults. When there are adults, they either behave like children or they answer to the children. Rarely are the adults, actual adults. It’s not that the children shouldn’t have a fantasy world where grown-ups are little to none, it’s that so many parents are using television as a babysitter. When there is little healthy interaction between children and adults in children’s programming, we are fostering a false sense of reality for our kids where they don’t understand a healthy parent-child dynamic.

I will start with the good. “Olivia,” a show about a little girl (complete with both parents) who uses her imagination and creativity religiously. Her parents make grown up decisions, relegate the children without being overbearing, allow the children to be children while enacting boundaries, and participate actively in the children’s endeavors and activities. It is wonderful.

In “Bubble Guppies,” the children are guided by their teacher. The show is set up like pre-school. The children explore, learn to play well together, ask questions, and learn new things. All of these things are done under the supervision of their teacher, Mr. Grouper (all the characters are aquatic), who provides guidance and structure to their activities. Another children’s program that I approve of.

“Max and Ruby,” my all-time favorite bad example, is a cartoon about two rabbit siblings. Some episodes include their grandmother, an adult who is not very adult in actions. The Grandmother plays a lot with Max and Ruby, and Ruby always comes across as the responsible one. Ruby gets Max ready for bed, makes cakes, does the gardening and the shopping and the cleaning. Ruby is the disciplinarian and yet she is only a child herself. She is a part of the Bunny Scouts, and the scout leader, an adult, comes in to approve of what Ruby and her friends have done to satisfy Bunny Scout requirements. The other adults come along to give Ruby more responsibility (i.e. babysitting).

The interaction between the bunnies and the adults is very minimal and I don’t see the educational value to the show. “Max and Ruby” is based on a children’s book series by Rosemary Wells. I find the books to be a bit more appropriate, but I definitely don’t understand the program on Nick Jr. The books name Ruby as Max’s bossy older sister. I beg to differ.

Adult-free cartoons can be of no consequence to the child that has healthy child-adult interactions, but I wonder how detrimental (or not) they are to kids who are constantly babysat by the television. Who knows, I could be totally off base with this one. I’ve been wondering about the absence of adults in cartoons and thought I should vent.

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Posted in: Discussions