I polled the ladies at my hair salon and one of the best ideas was creating a show based on The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. “Why can’t they base a show on that?” my hair stylist Tricia lamented? Why not, indeed?
Another stylist says that she watches Glee with her girls. Her girls’ friends discuss the show anyway and she is fine with them watching it as long as she’s there too to help explain it and put it into context. (There is a lot of sexuality in Glee that make it off-limits for some parents to approve of for their tweens.)
Best TV for Tweens
I polled my family and the play dates next. This is the list that made the cut:
Julie of My Shiny Monkey says, “For your Tween TV post, if you need more recommendations, we love watching these shows together: Shark Tank (business lessons), How It’s Made (engineering), Modern Family (relationships), and Jon Stewart’s Daily Show (world events).”
How about you? What are your tweens watching that you approve of? Stacey weighs in next!
Best TV Show for Tweens: Stacey’s Take
When my girls were pre-school age, I was pleasantly surprised by the choices available to them. We pretended to ride on Rocket with the Little Einsteins, danced along with Sid the Science Kid and relaxed as Little Bear explored the woods. The trouble came when my girls began to think that these shows were babyish. When that happened (although I still catch them viewing these shows when they think no one is watching!), I explored where to go next. For a bit they were happy with Martha, the charming talking dog and then Arthur that clever aardvark. But then they clamored for shows that weren’t animated and they began asking for Disney Channel shows because, “everyone watches them!”
While the ‘everyone’ statement is never true, it was closer to the truth than I could imagine. Many parents of early elementary aged kids had simply thrown their arms up in frustration and let their first and second graders watch stories about the trials and tribulations of middle and high school students portrayed all day long on the Disney channel.
At first I was confused about why these parents were allowing this to happen. For sure, I wouldn’t let my girls watch this nonsense. So I began to research, to see what better options were out there. And then I realized the problem. There was nothing else. Once children outgrew pre-school programming, there was nothing but a vast wasteland of options. Nothing. Nada. Zip.
Disney Channel Caused Bad Behavior in Kids
First, if my girls were watching the Disney Channel and I walked into the room, they paused the show. They waited until I left the room before they started watching again. Not a good sign.
Second, my girls became rude and crabby. Literally, they adopted the language, the eye rolls and the body language of the Disney characters.
I made the decision to ban the Disney Channel and as a result, my happy, polite girls returned. I heard peals of laughter while they watched television and I was welcome to sit and laugh with them.
Did I discover a new channel? One that is appropriate for early elementary and tween children. No. Sadly, I have yet to find that channel. When I have talked to people in television and advertising, I have learned that people have tried and there just isn’t enough money out there to compete with the Disney machine.
So, I have gone back in time. I have found old shows that are still shown in re-runs and I have checked out DVDs from the library of shows I grew up watching.
Class TV Shows Still Work for Tweens
My girl’s favorites have been Full House, The Cosby Show and The Brady Bunch. In these shows, there are many of the same trials and tribulations that you find on the Disney Channel. Children can be rude and disrespectful to adults. Children can be mean to each other. Children can make poor choices. But the difference lays in the consequences. Caring adults sit with these children and talk about what they are doing and the choices they are making. Children learn from their mistakes and become better people as a result. If that is what we are seeking in the real world, it is only fair to demand the same from the television characters we welcome in to our homes.
It is time to insist on quality programming for our children. Hopefully someone will be brave (and rich) enough to create new and appropriate shows but in the meantime, what are some of your favorite old shows? And new?