Does family-friendly TV exist?

I try to limit the amount of TV my kids watch.  I do, really, I do.  Most days, I’m not that successful at it.  When it was just me & Max at home, we had a pretty good schedule of an hour in the morning, and then maybe another 1/2 hour to hour in the afternoon, after his nap, while I made dinner.  Definitely within the American Academy of Pediatrics’ recommendation.  Now that there are two kids that get up at different times, the morning TV time has stretched out a bit, and since Max doesn’t nap anymore (usually), it admittedly sometimes goes on in the afternoon, too, while Wyatt naps.  I feel extremely guilty about this, but sometimes it’s just a necessary evil in order to get everything done in a day that needs to get done (including keeping my sanity).  My consolation is that just about everything he watches is educational. 

Oh, did I mention they also watch a little before bed, too?  Yeah, they usually wind down with something like Diego, but lately, we’ve been feeling like us parents need to get to watch a show once in a while, especially since Wyatt’s wake up call is at 5:30 am, our bedtime isn’t long after his. So the quest to find something family-friendly, that’s not made for preschoolers, but still ok for them to watch, began.  Shows like American Idol and AFV are good for this;  not my first choice, but a little more tolerable for an adult.

So yesterday, since Max had a fairly decent nap, I knew he’d be up late.  I was feeling tired, so I said ok to some TV, but it had to be one of my shows. After some perusing, we decided to watch So You Think You Can Dance.  Max likes to dance.  He’s always showing me his new “moves”.  I figured he would enjoy it, and it seemed innocent enough. 

What bothered me was not the show itself, but something else I’ve been noticing more and more now that I’m a parent:  the commercials.  You think you’re watching something innocent, you don’t have to worry about walking out of the room to get a drink, when you hear a commercial come on for some incredibly gruesome scary movie.  Or maybe now you have to explain to your 4 year old what erectile dysfunction, or herpes, is.  I remember when Max was an infant, an old neighbor of mine actually called the local TV station to complain about a particularly explicit news blurb that was played during a Harry Potter movie. 

Last night, the offense was an ad for a new upcoming show, FRINGE.  Don’t get me wrong, this show looks really cool, it’s from the makers of LOST, I’d probably like to watch it.  But I don’t need my kids seeing blood splattered all over the inside of airplane windows, and hearing the main character talk about how everyone is dead.  This is all before 9 o’clock pm.  Is is too much to ask that the commercials match the rating of the show?  I know they sort of tend to do this anyway, but I think they can do a whole lot better. 

As usual, it’s up to the parents (as it should be) to police what their kids are seeing.  I don’t have a problem with this, but it would be nice that once we settle on a decent show, we could actually sit back, relax & enjoy it together. 

I guess this is a another pretty good arguement for just turning it off & having some quality family time together.


10 Responses

  1. You could also use it as an argument for TiVo. 🙂 That way, you can pre-record things and just FF through the commercials. We hardly ever watch commercials anymore.

  2. I’m thinking we’re missing out on this tivo thing.

    I have had the pleasure of the “What is erectile dysfunction?” question from a prime time hour of family tv myself.

    Isn’t that a hard one to explain.

    Seriously though, it is the stuff I don’t bat an eye at that is just as awkward…always maxi pads where they pour the blue liquid on the pad??? Summers Eve…yep…explain douche to your kids. “Um it’s like mouthwash…just not for your mouth.”

    ??? When will the networks have our backs????

    The Maid

  3. My sister in law and I just had this conversation yesterday. You think you are watching something family friendly, but it’s the commercials you have to worry about. We were watching something recently and a commercial for the station’s newscast came on. “Sherriff’s department accused of showing favor to incarcerated prostitues – tonight at 10.” My oldest son says “Mom, what’s a prostitute?” I answered someone who does bad things for money. He said “Oh, I don’t want to be one of those.” Oh, well what a relief.

  4. I am with you completely on this – I feel the same way and my kids are nine (almost ten!) and six! I saw the same commercial last night and had to cover my six year old’s eyes (the other one was in the other room at the time).

    It’s also bad during baseball games as well – I don’t understand why they think it’s ok to have slasher movie commercials on. Just because it’s at “night” doesn’t mean it’s not a family watching.

    We’ve started watching dvr’ed Price is Rights at night. Sad, I know, but you can skip through the commercials and there isn’t too much about Drew Carey that you really have to explain to your kids! 🙂

  5. Yup, AFV, Dancing with the Stars, American Gladiators, and possibly Celebrity Circus (formerly known as Circus of the Stars back in the day). Anything much more than that, and the kids are learning WAY too much WAY too soon. Again, I am thankful for TiVo.

  6. I totally agree with you about commercials. I am the same way about what my kids watch at night. The movie commercials are the worst. And it seems like the kids tend to ignore the show we are watching, but when the gory movie trailer comes on, they are glued, and then scared to go to bed.

  7. We pretty much do videos rather than tv–most of the time. Their tv time is usually while I am cooking dinner. Sometimes We’ll let them watch something on PBS kids in the morning but then we don’t let them watch in the afternoon. Sometimes though if they get up at the crack then daddy will let them watch some extra tv while he snoozes on the couch! He gets up with the older two while I get up with the baby. We like to steer away from the cruddy stuff on tv.

    What about playing some kind of computer game together? Or letting Max have some computer time on his own? Rescue Heroes, Planet Heroes and other “hero” stuff have games on the computer….or pbskids has a pretty decent website where kids can do activities. It took a little bit but Isaac who is 3.5 can man the mouse on his own and has some computer time some days. Ewan does really well with the mouse and he will be 5 in a couple of months. Wyatt would be a little young for playing on the computer but he might think it fun to watch Max? That is what Isaac did for a while.

    I agree about the commercials though! I don’t even like the kids watching cartoons on Saturday morning because of all the commercials for toys…..I hear too much of the “gimmees” after that.

    Something totally family friendly that doesn’t have pooey commercials is Ninja Warrior (a Japanese show) on G4 channel. The boys think it is awesome to watch the people go through the obstacle course and we have fun watching it too! I don’t know if it comes on at night–we usually see it on Saturday or Sunday afternoons. But G4 shows other Japanese game shows in the evening that are very entertaining!

    We don’t have Tivo but sometimes I wish we did!

  8. Not being a parent I can only “think” of solutions…one that I heard that seemed to make sense was as they get a little older, watching some of the old-time movies…almost always acceptable, almost always wholesome and clean…and almost always enjoyable for every member of the house…

    Again, that is not “Mother Tested, Child Approved”, but it seems to make sense to me!

  9. I am a big offender when it comes to letting Nathan watch way too much Noggin or PBS on the days he’s home from daycare. But one thing I do excel at is making sure my kids get an abundance of sleep, so much so that my neighbors make fun of me for putting them both down at 7 almost every night. On the days Nathan has had a nap he might lay in bed for quite awhile talking to his animals, but it certainly does give me some quality unwinding time. My next hurdle is going to be giving up my “Alt Nation” channel on Sirius radio which is completely unedited. So far Nathan is pretty oblivious to it, but I know it won’t last…

  10. TIVO!!

    We have not watched commercials in ages. If we want to sit and watch a show the night it airs, we wait at least 15 minutes into it. Then we start the FFing through and VOILA! No commercials, just nice blissful TV viewing. Of something we WANT to watch.

    Also, do you have DVDs they can watch?? I was always so nervous of anything inappropriate even before we got Tivo. I just put in a video (this was before DVDs, My kids are OLD! LOL) and they really never watched TV at all. Sometimes Blues Clues or something. We have many seasons of “The Waltons” on DVD and the kids enjoy watching those. Never unsupervised, because some topics they cover are not great for our 7 and 9 year olds. My kids enjoyed Bear in the Big Blue house, Blues Clues, Rescue Heroes, etc. We had them all on DVD so there was no risk of them seeing something they shouldn’t.

    Does Max like puzzles or can he and Wyatt build with blocks together or play cars something that you don’t always need to supervise so that you can have some time to sew?? If Wyatt is napping, can Max do something else?? My kids loved play doh, puzzles, cutting, colouring, on and on. It makes a mess, but they love it! I am sure your kids do that, but maybe if you make it only at special times to avoid the TV. My kids are only allowed TV or watching anything really, a few times a week. We go a few days at a time with no movies or TV shows. Now that they are older, it is video games they want to play. I am tempted sometimes to let them when I feel I shouldn’t , just to have some peace and quiet. Easy for me to use technology as a babysitter! LOL

    I know just what you mean though. After all this rambling, my point is that it is truly infuriating that they show those things on TV so early when kids will be watching. It is the same as all the scary movie and book covers being in toddlers eye level at the store. My younger two were trained when we walked past certain areas of certain stores to look the other way, or an older sibling would block their view. People looked at me weird sometimes, (my kids would sometimes cause a big production with my older kids saying pretty loudly to the younger kids to remember to look away, as they walked sideways, making sure their younger brother and sister did not see anything scary! LOL Was pretty cute, really. They would not look either, and were very protective) but I don’t see any point in traumatizing my 4 year old by letting her see a severed thumb with blood all over it, ya know??

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