Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Evil lurks on the Disney Channel

We're pretty careful about what we let The May Queen watch on television, and she's only been to one movie in the movie theatre (Veggie Tales. She hated it). Right now her favorite shows to watch are geared for younger kids. The day she figures out that "Noggin: It's like Preschool on TV" is meant for preschool kids and she's "too old" is the day we're in trouble.

She really hasn't had a strong desire to watch programs that are geared for older kids. She will unabashedly say "I'm not allowed to watch Spongebob" when with friends, and has even said it about programs we've never specifically said anything about. "That's too old for me," she'll say.

But she's beginning to notice that her friends are watching and talking about shows she doesn't watch, and recently she's said things like "Maybe when I'm six I can watch Hannah Montana." I know that most of the kids in her class watched this show, and were singing songs from it. So I decided to record an episode of Hannah Montana and take a peak for myself.

Yikes! My child will not be watching that show any time soon. Okay, maybe the show isn't exactly "Evil" as my title suggests, however... In the episode I watched the two siblings fought the whole time, and then snuck out of the house when their father grounded them. Sure, the point was made that they are siblings, and in the end, they really care about each other. But a much stronger point is made consistently throughout the half hour program, and that is that putting someone else down is FUNNY! Other great lessons included: sarcasm is the best way to make your point; underwear is funny; if you disobey your parent your punishment will be singing a silly song! The show was full of words like "loser" and "stupid" and phrases like "I hate you!" I don't allow those things to be spoken in my home, and I'm certainly not going to allow my child to watch a show that uses them as humor. My guess would be that this show is geared more towards tweens, although even then I question what a crappy example the show is setting. Under no circumstances should elementary school children be watching it! (I almost want to say "Sorry if I'm offending you and you let your children watch it" but I can't say that. Turn that program off. Now. Please. ) It sickens me that they are promoting this show for young kids. 3 year old children at the preschool where I work have come in wearing Hannah Montana clothing. THREE YEARS OLD!! If you're making clothes that fit a 3 year old with the Hannah Montana name on it, you're promoting it to preschool children.

And here's the rub: what television shows are out there for elementary children? What does a child graduate to after Dora and Little Einsteins (which The May Queen still loves, along with Max and Ruby and Pooh and Little Bill). What can she watch that will address where she is developmentally, helping her with the problems she'll face socially and enforcing the skills she's learning at school? Why are there SO MANY decent programs for preschool children, and a seeming dearth of options for young elementary students?

What do you let your elementary kids watch?

Before we had The May Queen we talked about getting rid of our television all together. Obviously we haven't gone that route. But, as I said, we do limit what and how much television The May Queen watches. This is going to be harder as she gets older and sees things at friends houses that we'd rather she doesn't. And it's going to be hard to keep saying no to something that it seems all of her peers are watching. But say no I will. I just wish I had some alternatives to offer.

*****
I didn't mean to leave you hanging about my audition, but welcome to my life. Just today I learned, as I had suspected, that they will be holding another round of auditions on June 7th. I mentioned that there were surprisingly few people at the audition, and so I thought this would be likely. This doesn't mean I won't get the part, as they haven't cast any roles yet from that first audition. It means they want to look at more options for all the parts first. And then they will likely have callbacks, to see people they liked again and see how they play off of each other. So it will be at least another week and a half before I know anything more. Trust me, if I get the part, I'll let you all know!

35 comments:

Laski said...

I'm coming back. I want to see what responses you get.

We have a family friend who got rid of TV altogether. It is reading (and lots of it) and outdoor activity. They don't even own a TV!

E said...

One word...EBAY. You can buys all the old tapes of wonderful shows and enalrge her repertoir with things her friends have never heard of...Remember Fury and Gentle Ben? There was a cartoon called David the Gnome with a little gnome family and all their woodland friends that is perfect for the kindergarten set. And Maya the Bee, she was a spunky bee with all kinds of creature pals.

Sober Briquette said...

I rent a lot of videos from the library (Strawberry Shortcake? books made into movies, like Reading Rainbow or one with the logo "CC" - sorry I forget what it's called...).

On TV, we're in the same boat as you, but it works out because Fiona has a younger sibling. They watch Higglytown Heroes or Mickey Mouse. Half an hour a day.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

We were the same way you are in terms of C and TV. I'd echo others - we did a lot of tapes from the library. Some faves were Magic Schoolbus, Bill Nye the Science Guy, Toad and Frog, Arthur, ... forgetting some of the others right now. Oh! And the dog who did classics... a librarian will know.

Also, I taught 4th grade the year the Simpsons came out. By the end of the year, all my boys were imitating Bart, and many of the girls were, too. It was a nightmare.

susiej said...

NOTHING!!! For me, the shows are not only bad, but the commercials are horrible. I can tell if my kids have watched TV... they start recommending cleaning products to me, and wonder why our glass has streaks!
Then, they whine for every toy they've just seen.

So, we rent movies that we can all watch. I'm still a big fan of Noggin, that has no commercials, but now my 6-year-old is starting to complain about it being too babyish.

Kyla said...

Everyone draws their own lines in the sand on television issues. I'm more lenient than some and stricter than some. BubTar knows that Noggin and such is geared more towards KayTar, and although they do enjoy watching some shows together (especially Wubbzy) he isn't too keen on it. I think the next logical step in the progression is PBS Kids. It seems to be the only educational programming for children out of preschool. We also let him watch other things that we feel are reasonable for his age level, too.

thailandchani said...

I like the idea of the old videos. Seriously though, I had no idea Hannah Montana promoted those kinds of values or behavior - but I'm not surprised.

Kathryn said...

I know!!! And in every stinking Disney movie there is some kind of language that I would never allow my boys to say. All the "idiots", "morons", and "stupids" floating around in them are just nuts.
I guess we'll stick to old Little House on the Prairie and Flipper reruns. ;)

Angela said...

We're pretty laid back as far as what they are watching on TV when it comes to Disney and Nick. I do not allow any of them (including my almost 11 year old) to watch prime time TV. They know PG-13 is off-limits... honestly though they'd rather be outside. They love 'How it Works' and 'Ninja Warrior' though... NW is an obstacle course show in Japan. (Boys.)

amanda said...

Now it was 30+ years ago, but as kids we were not allowed to watch tv unless it was Sesame Street or the muppets. Instead, my mother has books on record that we listened to or read. We played alot outside and until I was 20, we did not have cable in the house.

Amy Y said...

I definitely agree with and respect your decision. And I'm glad my boys are boys and I don't have to argue with them about Hannah Montanna. Ugh. What a waste of time and energy and a bad example (I have never seen it but from your description, I'm certainly not missing a thing!).

T is 6.5 and isn't too interested in Diego or Little Einsteins anymore, though Gavin is. So when it's his turn to pick, we've been watching silly shows like the Upside Down show. They also like shows about animals and more non~fiction type shows. Our favorite family show is America's Funniest Home Videos ~ where we are sometimes laughing at other's misfortunes but the funniest ones are the silly animals and babies.

Anyway, great post on an important topic. Thanks!

Keeping fingers crossed for the audition still... :)

(BTW: we know baby flavors ~ I can't blog about it but if you'd like to know, email me and I'll share) :)

Mad said...

Arthur and Franklin are both about school-aged children. We're big fans of Franklin at our house. Plus, Bruce Cockburn does the theme-song and that always makes me smile.

Mad said...

Lemme know if you don't have access to Franklin. The dvds are always showing up in the sale bin at the grocery store here for 4.99. I could send you one.

Sober Briquette said...

The ones I couldn't think of this morning are Children's Circle and Weston Woods. They put out stories on VHS.

Someone above mentioned Wishbone (the dog who does classics) but I think that's still a couple years off.

imbeingheldhostage said...

BRAVO! People think we're freaks for not letting the kids sit glued to shows like that. They do watch football (soccer) where grown men grab their legs and roll around on a pitch like they're injured for life because someone ran past them-- so maybe that's not much better...

Alpha DogMa said...

I think it is great that you are monitoring MQ's TV closely. It is so hard, but worthwhile, to keep her from all the mental junk food on the tube.

I don't think this issue is any easier for boys or girls. With girls you must be vigilant with the vamp-tramp element, but with boys it is violence.

One compromise we make with our boys is letting them read/listen to books about characters from TV shows and movies that we think are too mature. So they know -- for example -- the names of Spiderman's enemies, but they haven't seen the violent action sequencs. Because the pace is slower with books I get to make asides more readily and open up discussions about when and why I disapprove of violence. So my kids know the story of Spiderman, can still join in discussions with friends, but I feel they are somewhat insulated from the themes I dislike.

As for shows? Eh. I don't know, either. But we've had some success screening shows on youtube and have found a few old time favourites too.

Good luck.

Candygirlflies said...

Oh, I am SO with you on this one, PM... And not only is Disney evil, but Teletoon is WORSE than evil....

My girlies started watching old musical movies with me from the time they could sit upright and focus! I highly recommend "Singin' in the Rain" (my own personal favourite) as a start for your collection...

Amazon has them all! We're currently anxiously awaiting the arrival of "Bells are Ringing" with Judy Holliday... Can't wait!

Also, check out the first two "Anne of Green Gables" movies, starring Megan Follows (one of my favourite Canadian actresses). It's magic. I know MQ would love it. And, of course, there's good ol' "Free to be You and Me", and "The Electric Company" from our own days-of-youth!

In short?

We'd be lost without our dvd player. Because there ain't much on tv these days that I'd let my 12, 7 and 3-year-old watch. Not even over. my. dead. body.

Good luck!!

xoxo CGF

Alex Elliot said...

My oldest is only 4, but he only watches shows that we have recorded using our Tivo. We also don't have Noggin although I wish we did. He watches Sesame Street or Blues Clues or sometimes a movie.

Rima said...

Thankfully, the V-meister does not yet have any idea that Hannah Montana exists. And when she finds out, I don't know how I'll stop her from being sucked into that vortex. You are right - the shows for pre-school aged children are at least decent and appropriate for the age group, but there is a real dearth of age appropriate programming from that point forward. It's maddening, isn't it?

womaninawindow said...

I'm so relieved to hear another mom say Hannah Montanna is inappropriate. I've never watched it so what do I really know but I see who is watching it in my daughter's class and I just think, NO. She's trying to wear me down. I just don't see why they push these things when there are options. We all enjoy Arthur and we are getting into Word Girl. Also, they love the art show like Fingertips and Art Attack. There's a magic show, too. These are jewels and I'm so relieved my kids love them!

Good-luck...

Sherri E. said...

We went the television-free when our oldest was fourteen months old, and have not ever regretted it.

Our little guys do have a portable DVD player given to them by my doting mother, so we have set a rule that they can watch videos only on weekends. Weekdays are for books and toys and books and playing outside and books and "helping" mommy make bread and books.

I feel for you about the Hannah Montana thing. It's so terrifying. I only have boys so far, but just thinking about what our culture offers young girls in terms of message and identity makes me cringe for all the little girls who watch, and absorb, and have no critical parent ready to help them think about this stuff in a critical way. So sad. :(

Anyway, good for you for drawing the line!

Bayou Belle said...

we love to watch america's funniest home videos together. even J gets some of the funny things the animals do, etc. Also, Bindi the Jungle Girl is a fav as well as some horse/pony/stables show for young girls. Can't think of the name but it comes on sometimes - maybe weekends and is a gentle show about being friends and how to get along, etc. We also have borrowed "The Worst Witch" from the library.

ALM said...

It's horrible, and you've absolutely touched a nerve with me. THere is nothing for that age group & all they have to watch are tween shows..

Melissa said...

Haven't read the comments yet, but I wanted to put my two cents in before I got distracted.

I HATE Disney channel. It's just awful the scripts they have for all of those shows, not just HM. I do not allow it in my house.

I have older kiddos, so what I let them watch is pretty different, and I'm sure some would be appalled. We don't watch a lot of tv, but they do like cartoons on Saturday (who doesn't) so they get to watch Pokemon and stuff on Cartoon Network. When we do watch, we watch Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and Science Channel. They love Dirty Jobs and Mythbusters. We also watch Sarah Jane Adventures and Dr. Who on Sci-Fi. No Batttlestar though. Waaay to old for them. And sports on occasion.

So that's our viewing habits.

And thanks for the update. I was actually about to email you on that one because I'm pretty nosy that way. :)

Melissa said...

Oh, and I have rules as to when they can watch...

None on weekdays after school. That's for playing outside (unless it's raining). Not on weekends after 9 am. That's also outside or church time. During the summer, they can watch tv or play video games when it gets over 95 outside for that day or if they've been at a camp all morning.

Basically, they don't watch much.

Ok, enough of the book. :)

karengberger said...

I am a huge fan of PBS. Arthur was one of our favorite kids' shows, back in the day. As they got older, we introduced David and Katie to the PBS Mystery! series, and that is a hit now.

I think Hannah Montana is written more for middle school-high school ages. In that context, and at that age, they will likely have seen more of what it represents (at school and among their peers). It is not my favorite, but in my opinion, is one of the better shows on that channel, which has some really DUMB shows. The episodes usually have a moral, if you look hard enough. MQ is lucky that you are pre-viewing for her.

Victoria said...

While my kids have watched Hannah, it's not what they typically want. We're addicted to National Geographic (my boy is a geek), the Weather Channel (seriously, he's a geek) and Little House on the Prarie reruns.

Aunt Becky said...

Ben tends to watch Noggin. He's a bit old for it, and it's a bit grating to me, but it's pretty harmless.

JCK said...

First, you. Waiting on the final call for the role is SO hard. Kudos to you for bearing with it. I know...name of the game, sometimes. But, it doesn't make it easy. I'm thinking "break a leg" thoughts for you! I think it is great that you are still acting and being a mother, too.

Can I just be all smirky and palsy walsy, because you and I have the same feelings about these shows. My boy & girl watch those same preschool shows and tell friends that they can't watch Spongebob. One of the most disturbing trends that bothers me is how the parents are always put down by the kids. As in parents are stupid. And I hate that word and only allow it on other people's blogs. ;)

Great topic, PM!

Beck said...

Now that my kids are older, they want to watch all sorts of obnoxious older kids shows and it's pretty bad. I hate Sponge Bob and his stupid pants.

marymurtz said...

Earlier this year, we pulled the plug on television. I had severe withdrawal from FoodTV, and my husband's willingness to do this will be sorely tested when football season comes along, but we were just at a loss as to how to deal with snarky comments from our daughter and her mindless staring at even shows meant to engage her.

We noticed an immediate and positive uptick in her moods and her behavior, and we are all happier. We were the LAST people anyone thought would give up TV. We do rent a lot of movies through a mail service, and catch up on a couple of programs via the Internet (sue me) but our daughter's "screen time" is limited to an occasional movie on the portable DVD player, or in the car on long trips.

Plus, we're saving a huge amount of money every year, not only on cable/satellite bills, but also on crap we would have seen advertised on tv. It works for us. I just think our daughter's childhood is precious and I don't want it robbed by the idiot box.

niobe said...

You might be surprised. Soon after my son started elementary school and decided he was too old for the shows he had previously watched (Shining Time Station, Barney, Sesame Street), he seemed to lose interest in tv altogether. Which was just fine with me.

BipolarLawyerCook said...

Good luck with the part!

You know, I grew up without much TV and in retrospect, I am glad, though I felt it was a terrible deprivation at the time. Most of the stuff is as you've described-- why waste time on TV when I was able to read Little Women and Anne of Green Gables and Little House and, and, and?

Anonymous said...

ABsolutely . DIsney is evil and has no morals or conscience what so ever. I am upset that I have to be the one to block it and my cable provider does not provide me the option of a cable package that doesn't not include DIsney. The kids are obnoxious, disrespectful, uneducated, don't encouage reading or writing nor do they care about intellectual ideas, and they have no feeling or morals. They show ONE program 10 times a day. I used to have to WAIT a whole WEEK before I could see the brady bunch again. BUt no, Hannah montana is available 10 times a day. They are taking control out of the parents hands and then blaming US the parents if we complain about the ignorance of corporate mass media and how it's trying to brain wash and control our kids. It's up the parents Yes , but corporate america and the media do their darndest to keep children under their spell and take away our power as parents.

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