Television Shows For Children

Learn about the television shows your children can watch without scarring their impressionable minds.

One of the latest "hot" topics concerning pop culture and politics is that of the material that is presented to children through mainstream forms of media. Tipper Gore is currently at a political war with pop culture media. She and millions of parents in this country feel that there should be more ratings and censoring on television, in song lyrics, and in other forms of media. This group of people recognizes the promotion of sex, violence, dieting, and drinking as only a corner of the negative influence of media, especially of television. Since children today watch hours of TV per week, the issue of television programming has become central to Americans.

There are many ways that concerned parents try to lessen the dangers that they see on television. Some parents forbid their children to watch TV altogether, some allow only certain programs, and some restrict the amount of time that their children watch. Others, like Tipper Gore, actively fight media, trying to reform their morals. Still others approach the issue as an educational tool, aiming to instill in their children a solid understanding of media. This group of parents believes that their children need to be literate in the television form of media since television is such a central part of American culture. While they recognize the risks of allowing children to witness the potential dangers of television, it is important to them to allow their children to watch television and to teach them to do so responsibly.

This method emphasizes responsibility to the children. These parents are not simply eliminating the TV, and they are not allowing their children to be mesmerized by appealing dangers. They have found a medium where TV can be educational and actually beneficial to their children. In addition to encouraging responsibility, this method helps in raising culturally literate, loved, and respected members of society. A societal "evil," as many people view television, is repossessed and incorporates as a vital part of parenting.

Most parents spend about 1,000 minutes a week watching TV, and only 38 minutes a week in quality conversation with their children. Sadly, most parents would rather submerge themselves in the artificial drama and heavy advertising of television than talk with their children. When a parent sits down with her daughter and they weed through the entertainment options on TV together, she is respecting her daughter. By communicating with her and teaching her social responsibility, this mother provides her daughter with some needed stability. Her daughter is not abandoned in front of the TV, conversing with strangers who may not share her mother's values. She is not subjected to viewing content matter that is beyond her maturity level simply because her mother wants to watch TV. Rather, she is engaged in accountability as she and her mother sort out the messages that are broadcast to them.

There are two extremes in effect, regarding children and television. There are parents who use television as a babysitter and allow their children to watch whatever they want, so long as they are quiet; and there are parents who restrict all television viewing so that their children will not have the opportunity to deal with negative influences there. Most likely, the healthiest methods lie somewhere towards the middle of this spectrum, but TV is so new in our society that long-term effects of its influence are not known. Even the TV programming today is very different from its origination, so its effects are still being discovered. Each parent must decide which path to follow, or blaze, but ultimately the children are held responsible. Children quickly develop into key members of society. When they are adults, what will their parents have taught them?

As part of a well-balanced education, it is important for children to be culturally literate. Television is so pervasive in our society that children need to be educated as to how to use this form of media responsibly. If a child does not learn about television in the home, where will he or she learn?

Within the exploiting, violent, commercialized frame of television, there are good shows for children. It is up to parents to use their creativity to discover the unseen wealth in television. Even if no shows are offered that parents want their children modeling, discussions about the morality in other shows can be great learning and bonding tools. Instead of creating a "war," parents have the capacity to transform television into a positive experience for children.

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