Screentime Chronicles: Finding Family Friendly TV Options
My kids are really into the Power Rangers right now. They are watching all of the different series from beginning to end on Netflix, and even my 12-year-old will cruise by to check-in. I used to despise this badly-acted show and its horrible special effects - now I love it. Strong female characters? Check. Discussions about responsibility and power? Check. Did I mention girls who kick some butt? Double check.
Compared to some of the disrespectful, sexist shows out there on the channels aimed at kids, I will take some Megazord action anyday.
We are a screen-heavy house. My kids watch TV, they play video games and they spend way too much time on Club Penguin. It isn't easy finding content that everyone is happy with (including me).
I monitor their shows and we spend a lot of time talking about stereotypes, what is appropriate for their ages and why writers choose to show the storylines they do.
But all that talk doesn't change the channel. And I have been mortified more than once about some of the things that get said on Family Channel.
Thanks to YouTube and surreptitious TV viewing at friends' houses, my boys have even seen some shows that we don't allow them to watch such as Family Guy and Big Bang Theory for example.
All this to say, we struggle finding appropriate viewing of movies and TV shows that the kids can watch together (ones that I can enjoy too). Since we can't put Phineus and Ferb on constant rewind, we have developed some techniques to guide us.
First off: CommonsenseMedia.org is your friend. We use it to search all questionable movies and TV and read what it says to our kids. We don't always follow their guidelines but they are a jumping-off point for discussion.
Netflix for Kids: I was sceptical of this service because I heard the content was stale. Not to my kids. We have been enjoying revisiting some older shows, and the kids are keen on some of the movies and documentaries. I realize Power Rangers isn't going to get me through the summer, but it is a good reminder that older content still has value. And guess who Netflix uses to check their kids' content? Commonsensemedia.org. (Netflix did give me 6 months free to try out, but we will pay for the service when it runs out - that is how much we like it.)
Reality Shows: I am not always fond of the focus on competition and fame that runs through these shows. But this season, we dropped the singing shows and started watching Top Chef Canada and Amazing Race. These shows highlight teamwork and skill and, I may be wrong, but I think my kids are starting to try more new foods because of them.
Discovery and TLC: Sometimes when I flick on Discovery my kids groan: "No learning shows!" But we all sat transfixed learning about the devestation of the coral reef, and the show on lions had us all tearing up. Shark Week? Mythbusters? Violence and learning is a win for my boys. On the flip side, my middle child loves renovation shows and Cake Boss.
I am the first to admit that my kids have too much screentime, so take advantage of my mistakes.
How do you find good shows? What are some of your family's favourites?
Want more chaos? Last year, I created some controversey by writing about the tongue-in-cheek Go the F*ck To Sleep book. (C'mon, haven't you thought that, even once?)