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The Curse of The Kid-Friendly TV Shows – Where’s the Quality?

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I recently spent two entire days on the couch with my 11-year-old daughter. She was home from school with a bad cold and needed some snuggle time.

As we sat on the couch, she flicked between several Disney and Nickelodeon shows. (When my kids usually watch TV, I’m somewhere in the vicinity but usually not sitting and actively watching the kid-friendly material.) I also give them a time limit. When the noise from the TV begins to damage MY brain cells in the other room,  it is time to turn it off.

Throughout that day, which led into the next day with a fever, we watched a variety of shows, live action and cartoon. The day began with a full hour of SpongeBob. Lots of shouting, hair raising laughter, a few funny puns and a lot of noise. I made her change it, because SpongeBob is on somewhere at all hours of the day and night.

Up next was the Fairly Odd Parents. Lots of screaming, yelling, panic, excitement, big trouble and then a solution. Then back to Disney and Fish Tales. This one is cute, but there is a lot of yelling, loud talking and NOISE. Do you sense a theme here?

Then came the Disney pre-teen oriented shows like Ant Farm, Jessie, Good Luck Charlie and Austin and Ally. There isn’t as much screaming on these live-action shows as there is just annoyance. Annoying characters, annoying children, annoying fabricated struggles and annoying solutions. Each and every one of these shows serves as a vehicle for one or more of its stars. Usually a vehicle to launch their singing career on Disney Radio. No one can act, everything is over the top, including the “acting” and it starts to grate the last nerve I have left for kid-friendly shows. Quality is something wadded up and thrown in the corner of the studio floor.

After a day of watching this cookie-cutter crap, I wondered why there isn’t smart programming for our children. Do the network execs and programming managers at Disney and Nickelodeon really feel preteens only want (or can handle) mindless junk? If a cartoon isn’t shouting and yelling, a kid isn’t going to watch. If a child actor isn’t acting completely ridiculous and over the top, no one will tune in. And do they really think all kids are ignorant enough to watch a show, fall in love with the obnoxious star to then buy their vanilla song downloads? If they are, there is no real love or connection with these bland teen stars. They are a flash in the pan until the next one comes along.

I do understand needing to unplug and watch something mindless on TV. I’m guilty of it. Shows like Dance Moms, Real Housewives, and Honey Boo Boo aren’t popular for their wisdom and insights. TV can be a wasteland.

There are, however, high-quality shows for young adults and up. There are many, many educational shows for the little ones. But there seems to be a gap for the 6 to 13 year olds. I challenge the networks of Nickelodeon and Disney to add quality programming for those in elementary school. Mad Men and Honey Boo Boo are able to co-exist, why can’t Spongebob and Jessie make some room for a solid, quality show?

What are your thoughts? Are you happy with what is available for school-aged children?

 

 

 

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Comments
  • comment avatar Sunnie April 17, 2013

    I agree, or they are all about boys and dating. Let the kids be kids!

  • comment avatar Amber April 17, 2013

    Bring back The Cosby Show!

  • comment avatar Lori Lavender Luz April 17, 2013

    Yes, this, all of it. I could have written your paragraph on the pre-teen shows (though not as eloquently as you). Yes, annoying, and yes, poorly done. The shows are not distinct from each other.

    I join you in challenging these networks to raise the bar. Remember Electric Company? Or Zoom? Not too expensive to produce, but entertaining for kids, who also learn something as they watch.

    Well said, Susan.

  • comment avatar Daria April 17, 2013

    I have seriously been tempted to block the Disney and Nickelodean on our TVs. I dislike the shows on them THAT much. Not only are they mindless drivel, but they teach a great deal of disrespect, focus on appearance, and “smart mouths” that my kids don’t need any help with…

    I see my 11 yo mimic the behavior on these shows and it drives me crazy. Crazy. Where are the good role models that are still entertaining? The funny without the noise and the yelling? The great dialogue…

    Ugh. So with you on this.

    • comment avatar Susan April 17, 2013

      I totally agree Daria. They all talk back and are disrespectful. The characters on these shows are not role models. I just wonder why Disney and Nick seem to think kids are mindless.

  • comment avatar Mary-Frances Main April 17, 2013

    My daughter actually self-banned Disney. After watching Cosby Show, and other older series, she realized all on her own what complete and utter crap most of those shows are.
    There’s still a “kid-angle” that they get and we don’t and there are some good shows “Avatar” is fabulous. However, they’re few and far between.
    I agree. The challenge is on. However, then we need to start on the video game industry! :)

  • comment avatar JoAnn April 17, 2013

    We never watch any “kids” shows, or much TV at all, really. Claire doesn’t watch any weekly or daily shows. When she was younger, I’d let Claire do Sesame Street Online, but that was it. The only TV Claire watches now is Mythbusters. True Story.

    • comment avatar JoAnn April 17, 2013

      That being said, WE watch TV, but her concept of TV is so far removed from when we were kids!

  • comment avatar Rajean April 17, 2013

    Two thumbs WAY UP! If I may be so bold as to LOUDLY echo what you’ve challenged the BIG networks geared toward kids to do – break the mold and create some programming that will entertain and challenge our kids and tweens. We’d consider going back to cable, because this is a big reason why we gave it up two years ago. Our kids are 6 & 10, I’d think you’d want them back.

  • comment avatar Melanie April 19, 2013

    My child’s 6, so she’s bored of the preschool shows but not really interested in the preteen shows. So we subscribed to a retro cartoon station, with all the old cartoons. She’s now hooked on The Flintstones, Scooby Doo, The Smurfs and Looney Tunes. Last night she was fascinated by a two hour documentary on Mel Blanc that we watched on Youtube. So between that and learning geography via Amazing Race, I hope we’re doing okay!

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