Erroneous Lessons My Son is Learning From Preschool Television
My broken foot and subsequent activity restriction has given me the opportunity actually sit down with the kiddo while he gets his daily 30-minute ration of TV. I’m doing my best to find age-appropriate shows for him to watch, and Nick, Jr. (“The Smart Place to Play”…and/or turn into a couch potato) is where we find his favorites. While I appreciate the interactive nature of most of the programming, and like the fact that my son is learning a few words in foreign languages, I do wonder about some of the unintended lessons these shows might be teaching. For example:
1. To stop a thief, it is sufficient to simply yell, “Swiper, no swiping!” (Dora the Explorer) Should work equally well when the school bully tries to grab your lunch money…He’ll just say, “Awww, man!” and walk away.
2. Baby jaguars make great pets. (Go Diego, Go!) Yeah, kid. Play your cards right, and you might (MIGHT!) get a goldfish. But don’t push your luck.
3. Marshmallow casseroles are part of a balanced diet. (Wow Wow Wubbzy) “Mom? Can I have some more marshmallow casserole?” “Not until you finish your doodleberry pie!” At least on Wonder Pets, they snack on celery.
4. It’s perfectly okay for a preschooler to wander off accompanied only by a monkey and/or baby jaguar, as long as they have a map or rescue pack with them. (Dora/Diego) Actually, that’s a pretty frequent theme in a lot of preschool shows…Seriously, Where are the parents???
5. Being a spy is an age-appropriate activity for a four-year-old. (Dora the Explorer: Super Spies 2) Okay, I admit, I may have a secret fantasy about being a lady James Bond (and being James Bond’s lady, but that’s another story); however, I’m not sure I want my son to pursue a hobby that involves using gadgets to invade others’ privacy. To be fair, though, this episode demonstrated a lot of necessary spy gear (dark glasses, cameras, bouncy balls that turn into boats or getaway bicycles), but it didn’t really explain what they should be used for. (Or what a spy is, for that matter.)
Still, these TV shows beat the heck out of most G-rated movies in terms of appropriateness for a preschooler. I’m still trying to minimize the effects of Horton Hears a Who and its use of the words “idiot” and “boob,” as well as the old lady v. lion fistfight in Madagascar 2. I’m telling you, these visual media are a minefield when it comes to parenting. It’s almost enough to drive a mother to take her kid outside to play or something…