Parents today, and kiddie shows dominating the tube

I may be sounding a bit like an old man here, but when I was a kid, we had cable, but there were no kid- or tween-oriented networks. No Nickelodeon, no Nick Jr, no Cartoon Network, no Disney Channel, no ABC Family, no Sprout, no Boomerang. The only kiddie programming appeared on broadcast channels early in the morning, an hour or so after school, and Saturday mornings. If you were lucky, maybe one channel in your town showed Davey and Goliath on Sunday morning, right before CBS Sunday Morning, Ernest Angley, or Meet the Press.

Otherwise, as a kid in the 1970s and early/mid 1980s, you watched the same networks and saw the same shows as your parents. You sat with them through the evening local and national newscasts, 60 Minutes, MAS*H, All in the Family, Dallas, dull made-for-TV movies, and the myriad of nearly indistinguishable Quinn Martin Production cop shows.

Parents controlled the dial. They might let you watch something with a little bit more cross-generational appeal, like Welcome Back Kotter, Diff’rent Strokes, Facts of Life, or The Six Million Dollar Man. That is, if there wasn’t something “better” on, like … yet another Quinn Martin Production.

Today, it’s a different story. When I visit a house where young children reside, it’s the little ones that are controlling what appears on the living room TV, at least as long as they’re awake. 7:00 PM? Cartoons. 7:00 PM? Cartoons. 8:00 PM? Cartoons. 9:00 PM? Cartoons. And if mom and/or dad want to watch something a bit more mature, well … pull up a lawn chair, wait a minute or two, and enjoy the fireworks. Seriously, almost every parent I know watches almost no grownup-oriented television programming as long as their kids are awake. It’s just Disney, Nick, Cartoon Network, and so on.

I’m not saying parents should plop Junior in front of the flat screen for a marathon of Breaking Bad or Dexter. Still, what happens to kids when they’re fed a steady diet of kiddie-oriented programming, with little else? What does that teach them about sharing, not just toys and other objects, but also less tangible concepts such as time? How about the parents?

To the parents among you: what’s on the living or family room TV while the kids are up? Is it just kiddie and tweener shows, or is there more of a mix? If you don’t watch any non-kid-oriented programming while the kids are around, why?

In my household, the TV shows what is appropriate to the youngest children awake at the time. As littler ones head to bed, the age of the people controlling the remote rises, until ultimately, it’s me and my wife’s time.

I’d rather have kiddie programming on than Faux Noize.

(grabs flameproof suit)

Would you rather have kids watching reality TV or soap operas?

Children of past generations didn’t watch kids’ TV programs all day because, except for PBS, it wasn’t available.

PBS, BTW, was criticized for showing their regular programming on 9/11. There were some people who were mad that their soap operas were pre-empted, but oh well.

I pretty much whatever I want to in the TV room. If my 10-year-old wants to watch with me, I’ll find something appropriate. If she wants to watch the Disney Channel crap (and don’t get me started on that), she can watch it in the kitchen.

Maybe this is why some families have more than one TV?

More than one parent has told me that they never thought the one channel they would block would be Disney! MTV, etc. wasn’t on the list because their programming is not aimed at young children.

Compared to the stable of shows available when “we” were kids, TV sucks (IMHO of course). Now everyone is a ex-model. I laughed when the new Night Stalker was made and even harder when it failed. Yes, there’s Archer and Arrested Development, and some other good shows but very little must-see (again IMHO). I know a lot of people think this is a golden age of TV, but as far as I’m concerned the kids can have it.

Going back to the '70s and ‘80s , my memory is a bit different than yours. I didn’t have cable until 1987, but Manhattan had it earlier . 39 channels and lots of channel sharing- where channel 17 was one station during the day and another at night. There was only one kids’ network (Nickelodeon which launched in 1977 and shared space with Nick at Nite by '85)) - and one sports network and one cooking network and so on. Not enough channel space for more.

And on network TV, there was more kid-friendly programming than you acknowledge- they weren’t cartoons , but a Disney show was on network TV starting in the '50s , and Wild Kingdom and Jacques Cousteau were on starting in the 60’s. Local stations and PBS in my area had kids programming on during school hours for the preschool set. At least one network had Afterschool Specials and even the cross-generational (and I’m not at all sure I’d include the Brady Bunch,Partridge Family,Hardy Boys etc as cross generational) shows were suitable for kids to watch - the not-suitable-for-kids programs tended to start at 9 pm or later.

As for what was on the living room TV when my kids were young- there wasn’t really much on that I wanted to watch until 9 pm- but if there was, that’s why there was more than one TV.

You could do a whole book on how children’s relation to TV has changed. A few points to ponder:
–Very little programming before the 90s was totally inappropriate for children. A show like Happy Days or the Cosby Show wasn’t targeted at children, but still had huge followings by kids anyway. Now that TV is almost entirely targeted at the young adult crowd, there’s little on TV that is appropriate for children.
–Cartoons are waay better than we were kids. In the 70s, almost all cartoons were Hanna Barbera crap. Now cartoons like Adventure Time, Last Airbender, and Gravity Falls can be ranked with the best live action shows.

I for one try to limit my viewing of full frontal nudity, gangsters carving up whores, beheadings, and, as you say, corpse liquifaction and serial killer vigilantes, in front of the kids.

But if it came down to letting them watch Jessie or Hannah Montana, versus a relatively mild episode of Game of Thrones or Boardwalk Empire, I think I’d go with the latter.

In my world, there is no such thing as a child who doesn’t have his or her own TV in their bedroom. The adults hold domain over the living room TV.

Yeah, The Amazing world of Gumball made me laugh this morning, and Phineas and Ferb is cool. But I don’t know about wayyyy better. Several eps of Star Trek the cartoon were very good. Johnny Quest had a kickass theme song. The first season of Land of the Lost has great sci-fi concepts. And of course there was The Looney Tunes Show at 7am

Because those are the only other alternatives? How about going out to play with the other kids? Oh right, can’t do that now because everything is a danger. It’s amazing any of us managed to live to adulthood. Ah well, they could always just glue their faces to the iPads a disturbing number of them seem to have these days.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a certifiable TV junkie, and have been since day 1, but I still occasionally had to go interact with other kids and such. Just had to make sure I was home in time to catch my absolute favorites.

They don’t have to be doing that all the time, and right now, it’s not all that practical here in the upper Midwest.

In my experience (parent of kids 3 and 6), there is very little on TV that I want to watch AND that is suitable for little kids. I love Breaking Bad. Not happening for the kids :stuck_out_tongue: Even network comedies like How I Met Your Mother seem inappropriate. I’m sure there’s SOMETHING, we occasionally put on a PBS travel show or documentary with the kids around, but if the TV is on during kid hours, it’s often on a kid show.

When I was a kid (late 80s-90s), we had fairly inoffensive TV sitcoms (Growing Pains, Full House) that my mom, sister and I watched. My dad would have none of it and would go watch the History Channel elsewhere. Sometimes he’d insisit on History on the main TV and I’d watch and sis would go elsewhere.

Plus, there’s the advent of time-shifting. If I want to watch How I Met Your Mother and the kids are awake, I can just watch it after they go to bed. There’s no need to watch when it’s officially airing. I actually don’t have cable, but the same idea applies to streaming. I can Netflix Breaking Bad whenever, so the kids can stream Thomas The Train. Again.

I mean, we don’t actually watch that much TV, anyway. It’s not like when I was a kid and the TV was on 20 hours a day.


I, too, grew up in the time-period the OP mentions, and watched shows like “The F.B.I.,” “Hogan’s Heroes,” and “Daktari,” with my folks – on a very small black and white screen in a very big wooden case. Obviously this happened because my beloved Saturday morning lineup (“The Bugs Bunny / Road Runner Show,” the “Whacky Racers,” and the Batman/Superman mix) was not available, but equally so because there was no option to watch broadcast shows other than the exact time when they were broadcast.

Today I have a multicast video streaming file server in my home, and smart TVs in every room, and my kid can watch “Adventure Time” marathons of his own making while I catch up on “The Unit.” But I have to admit that I think there was more – or maybe just different – value in having the whole family in the living room watching Inspector Erskin catch the bad guy.

It depends. My kids are five and seven and much of what is on primetime network television, not to mention cable television, aimed at grown-ups is not what I would consider appropriate for their age group. We will watch Downton Abbey, Modern Family, and sometimes The Big Bang Theory while they are in the room. Although with BBT we generally preview the episodes and skip the ones that are overly salacious. Otherwise it’s Food Network (Chopped), AFV, or some family friendly movie.

Lots of people limit their children to PBS Kids. You don’t have to worry about screaming bullshit like Spongebob, there are no commercials - especially toy commercials, and it’s only on certain hours of the morning and afternoon.

Now, I’m also seeing more parents set up Netflix streaming with a kids’ profile separate from their own. The kids typically are given the tablet, and the adults rule the den.

Hm, non-cartoon TV that the kiddo watches. Well, the elder Torqueling is 6, and some of the shows we watch together include:
[li]Mythbusters[/li][li]Face-Off[/li][li]The Little Couple[/li][li]Oddities[/li][li]Sweet Genius[/li][/ul]

She just got a tablet of her own for Christmas (Grandpa got her a Kindle Fire at a Black Friday sale), and one of the first things she did on it was watch an episode of Chopped on YouTube. Yeah, I have a weird kid. Actually, what she wants to do these days more than anything else is watch videos of other people playing Minecraft. I think she studies them so she can learn how to build certain things.

But I agree with the OP in that it seems to me that there’s not a lot of family-friendly stuff on the networks these days, and we don’t watch much from ABC, NBC, CBS, or FOX together.

No little kids at our place, but sometimes I long for a cartoon or a live show – minus an audience or laugh track – that’s fun and silly and with some charm. Outside of Andy Griffith, what is there? I’ll be tracking this thread for suggestions.

When the grandkids come over, they want SpongeBob. So that’s the only kids’ show I’m familiar with.