Sunday, July 07, 2013

Saturday Morning Cartoons, PBS, Toddlers & The Victory Garden

When my wife and I just had one kids, my daughter hardly knew the name of a character on a TV show. TV just wasn't part of her life.

Yet, when we had our son when she was about three she probably started watching more TV for a variety of reasons, one of those being it was a good way to keep her occupied if someone was busy feeding or changing a baby.

Now my daughter is five, my son is about two-and-a-half, and we have another son who's 10 months old.

The 10 month old doesn't watch TV, but the older two do. And generally we've found that putting in a DVD gives us as parents some distinct advantages over TV.

1. We can control exactly what they're watching
2. We have more control over the start/end/duration
3. The shows are commercial free

Yet, there are times and situations where TV is easier or more convenient that a DVD. Not to mention, might offer a little more variety if the current DVDs on hand (typically form the library) are over-played and tired.

In our house if the kids watch cartoons on TV it's going to be PBS. For our family, PBS offers the most family-friendly and educational programming. Our kids love Cat in the Hat, Thomas the Train, Curious George, and  Super Why! These shows tend to be the shows on if we turn on PBS sometime in the morning.

Yet, the biggest "crisis" comes the morning we might turn to PBS the most. Saturday! Saturday morning seems like the perfect day for morning cartoons and yet we run into the most issues on this day if we try to turn on the tube.

The kids might wake up sometime around 6:30 or 7:00 and I'll escort them downstairs and turn on PBS in hopes of eeking out an extra hour of sleep. And yet, at 7:30 they come up stairs alerting us of a crisis.

In our market, after an episode of Super Why! at 7:00 in the morning, the show transitions at 7:30 to PBS's long running gardening show The Victory Garden, which is only made worst in the following episodes which are sewing and quilting shows.

Logically, it seems that there would be other options.

This past week while on the road in a hotel, we were getting ready and thought we'd put on some cartoons for the kids. Yet, the networks strike out Saturday morning at 7:30. While PBS is airing The Victory Garden,   the Network channels are showing local news (hardly toddler appropriate), and the Tour de France.

We were in a hotel with basic cable, but even the kids and cartoon channels had shows I think are hardly toddler appropriate, namely, Nickelodeon was airing non-stop SpongeBob Squarepants.

I am strongly against SpongeBob namely because it seems really dumb, but also because of the research done a couple years back by the journal Pediatrics which was reported to significantly impact attention in children (specifically four-year-olds in the study).

So, we were without any options, and that's okay...because we can pass on Saturday morning cartoons.

Yet - as a non-expert in the industry, it seems to me anecdotally that there are simply less option regarding Saturday morning cartoons than when I was a child. And generally, it seems that the options available are of a lower quality -- both at an educational and entertainment level.

I want to blame The Victory Garden and PBS for not airing an episode of Curious George at 7:30, but maybe instead this should help me appreciate the programming that PBS does create and that it is entertaining, educational, and engages my toddlers.

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