Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Problem with Kids' TV Today

Now that my son is getting old enough to care what's on TV, I'm starting to get a feel for the shows that are out there. His cousin is older and helps me see the shows I don't already catch since my son's attention span for the TV lasts about 2-3 minutes, or however long the Imagination Movers are singing.

There's a whole new type of show that didn't exist when I was a young kid. What kind of shows? The kind that teach kids to just freaking yell at the screen. I remember helping watch a friend's niece in high school and being introduced to this type of show with Blue's Clues. From what I've endured of Dora, she does it, too. The host or main character asks a question, stares at the audience with a blank smile for what feels like way too long and then says that the kid is correct, then says the right answer just in case the answer was wrong.

So how does this affect my students? First, spoiler alert, in Romeo + Juliet, they both die. We watch this scene in the movie because I believe plays are meant to be watched. I use the Baz Lurhmann version that stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes. The death scene is the longest agony I've ever had to endure. Why? Because the kids talk to the screen like they can hear them. "Don't drink it, Romeo! She's alive! SHE'S ALIVE! Look down, Romeo! She's looking at you! She's about to touch your face. Romeo! ROMEO! STOP!!!" It doesn't matter how many times I start a viewing with "The characters on the screen CAN NOT hear you. Do not talk to them." My kids still yell at the screen like it's going to change something. I swear, one girl left claw marks on her desk last year because she was so frustrated that they just weren't listening to her.

Another type of show that can affect the behavior of students is shows that feature obnoxious characters who crank up their annoying voice to eleven at all times. EVERYTHING IS SAID IN THE SAME VERY LOUD VOICE, NO MATTER WHAT IT IS. Then I end up with students who talk like this. SpongeBob is the main example that always comes to mind. Sure enough, I can ask the kids their favorite show and they'll tell me SpongeBob. A subset of this is the show that features a smart alec who says really obnoxious things to adults constantly and no one ever says anything to him. The only thing that happens is the laugh track plays. Disney is really fond of making these type of characters younger brothers. I swear, sometimes my kids say things and then wait for a laugh track that doesn't play. Instead, half the class stares at them and someone might say something like "Dude, did you really just insult the teacher?"

I don't have a problem with TV shows for kid. Most TV shows aren't a problem in moderation. The problem is when television is used as a substitute for watching a kid. One of the reasons I chose my daycare is because there's no television there. I understand that we all need breaks. If I want to get anything done, my best bet is to turn on one of the many Imagination Movers episodes I've recorded and use the songs to my advantage. Don't fret if your child likes SpongeBob or Dora. I won't hate to have them as a student. What I'll hate is if you have them watching multiple hours of either show a day.

What kid shows do you hate the most? Why?

1 comment:

  1. I absolutely hate SpongeBob. It grates so badly on the ears. I always tried to get the kids I used to watch into Silly Songs, but it was apparently too early 1990s for them. :( I also love old Sesame Street, but it's apparently unfit for kids today according to the ratings people. So sad.

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