While, like so many, I deplore some of the latest developments in our tv culture, and I don’t need to name them, I still like television and even without adding any pay tv, and without counting the many DVDs our family has rented or bought over the last years, I believe there are a lot of good programs on the public and free channels that are informative, interesting, funny, important etc.. in short : worth watching.
Here in Australia as much as in most other countries of the world, where censorship or restrictive state television is not the norm.
The same goes for children shows. We don’t have CartoonNetwork, Nickelodeon, DisneyChannel or other KI.KA (Germany) and CBeebies (UK), but I had them in the past and we don’t need them. Today, with digital tv, with the free on air channels alone, Australian tv offers programs from toddler to school age at any hour of the day.
With my son we never watch particular programs or at particular times. We have stuff to do around the house, we play together or on our own, there is the household, the dogs, shopping and other activities that have priority over tv time. But there are no particular rules to it too.
When he was younger, naturally, there was a few rules though : only the ABC preschool program with it’s excellent, imaginative shows was ok to watch and they aired only in the morning for about 2 hours. I simply could not stand the hectic and loud teen presenters of the commercial channels and as an immigrant, I was just to happy to discover a whole new world of Australian and British children tv. If we missed the timeslot, but felt like watching some Playschool, Pocoyo, Pepper Pig or Fireman Sam, I had some DVDs at hand and my son never grew tired of watching the same episodes again and again. (I did a little, then bought more)
Now, at almost 5, some of the programs for toddlers bore him and he tells me so. Luckily, ABC has launched the channels ABC2 (for the little ones) and ABC3 (schoolkids) on digital tv. Sometimes, when I am busy with some household chores or really have to make an important phone call, I will try to set him up in front of the box to have some peace. Most of the times, thought, it does not even work. Of course, he can get just as engulfed into a show as any other kid and sit staring with open mouth – not a good look! But most times, this catatonic state does not last long and while he does not have the right to put the tv on by himself, he has figured out how to put it off and will simply walk out of the lounge when he has enough.
We still happily watch tv together though, often in the morning (if I had a bit of a late bedtime) or after lunch, and I am forever enjoying the discovery of new and interesting, funny and quirky kids shows. Because one new blog is not enough, this made me also start a random and incomplete blog about kids shows that really deserve attention from children and parents alike. Link here.
Until very recently, my son was rather scared of the any fast-paced anime-style combat series, but now he likes Bakunan, Dinosaur King and Dragon Booster. When we happen to zap into that, well, he can watch it. I personally find them a bit too repetitive and loud, but they will bring over valuable morals and messages to a preschooler just as much as being read “Peter Rabitt” once did for their grandparents.
Times change. When I came home from school, my (single) mum was not yet home frome work. I always thought it was cool. Mothers of my friends gave me sympathetic looks and invited me for lunch(we did not have school pm), but we were also the first family to have a cool micro-wave and I had the lounge to myself to watch the few kids shows that were on in the afternoon . My new-age brother later shielded his daughter for a long time of all “evil” by banning tv from their house, and I know that one reason she loved to spend the weekend with her grandmother was that she would catch up with Pokemon and Co on cable to talk about it in school on Monday. I think TV is part of our culture.
I’m quiet relaxed about it. There are times when I feel like a history documentary or a European movie and sometimes I just want to see the 3rd or 4th rerun of that episodes of the Simpsons.
TV is my friend. A good friendship allows for all kinds of moods, for longer or shorter reunions and absences. A good friend can be serious or goofy. And when you tell a good friend that you have no time for him, then he will understand and you get back to him when you’re ready.
My son is just setting up his relationship with television. I feel they’ll be alright.