Friday, May 26, 2006

The challenges of inappropriate television

Okay, so El 3atal and I are perhaps a bit more fanatical than most parents about what our children watch on TV. In the US, we would only let them watch Playhouse Disney, Noggin, and occasionally Nick Jr. For those of you who are not aware, these are channels with very good educational programming designed specifically for young children. They are also learning intensive teaching concepts like colors, numbers, counting, animals, etc. We knew that what they watched would be violence free, inappropriate language free, and adult situation free. As a result, we felt pretty good about it. In fact, Playhouse Disney and Noggin did not air commericals during their children's programming. That's right 10-12 hours of commercial free programming. When we changed to a local cable provider, we lost the 3 Disney channels and were left with only one. As a result, the beans began watching more Nick Jr., which does have commercials. We had the first ever request for a toy as a result of advertising.

You may think, well this doesn't sound that bad. She's not crazy. Let me tell you some of the things my kids do not get to watch:
1. Tom and Jerry: Goodness I don't need them to be given ideas of other mean things to do to each other.
2. Bugs Bunny: Full of violence, inappropriate situations, etc.
3. The Incredibles: Too much violence (it's a great movie, El 3atal and I screened it and decided it was a no)

As you see, the list includes "Classics" that kids my age grew up on. Since moving to Jordan, we've found that anything that is a cartoon is designed for kids. I mean that literally. And, since they're animated, they're clearly acceptable for the youngest of children. I shudder to think that The Simpsons or Ren and Stimpy will ever be introduced here. The idea of animated cartoons designed for adults is clearly a foreign one. So, we're here trying to monitor and control what our children see and hopping from channel to channel. We've had to evaluate the local programming in Arabic and the local programming in English. Much has been given a No rating. An acquaintance was shocked when Butterbean told her we don't watch Tom and Jerry. She doesn't have kids, and when she does, unless she has given it alot of thought, culturally I would expect her to have the "animated cartoon = kids programming" mentality ingrained.

Today, we bore the fruit of Butterbean watching programs that, if not inappropriate due to violence, are inappropriate because they are simply too old. As we sat playing a game, Butterbean turned to me and said, "Mommy, what is agoraphobia." Okay, this is so NOT a word that comes up in day-to-day conversation. So, clearly I had to ask, where did you hear that? She named one of the programs that I had determined was too old for her, but not overtly inappropriate. Ahhh, the joys... My 4 year old, who only about 6 months ago learned the concept of "gun", is being introduced to agoraphobia. We're living in a society that equates animated with kids and I'm not sure how to deal with it. I foresee even more children's programming in my future. At least they do have a steady supply of Barney, Teletubbies, Arthur, and bob the Builder.

Sanity (and good TV viewing).


At 8:09 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...



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