Monthly Archives: November 2011

Ask the Mamas-How do you handle TV with young kids?

Chris and I have been having some discussions lately trying to figure out what is appropriate for our kids to watch, but before I dive into those conversations, here are some of our tv stats: Sofia and Gabe are allowed to watch an hour’ish (give or take a little) of TV each afternoon after they […]

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nancy - November 15, 2011 - 9:40 pm

Our TV habits are about the same as yours, except my kids mainly watch from Netflix. I am also thinking about cutting it, because there is just SO MUCH available, and it becomes something they beg for, which drives me crazy. They are never satisfied because there is always something new they haven’t seen.

My main issue with Disney, Pixar, etc is the merchandise the movies put out. Again, there’s just SO MUCH of it and it’s everywhere (Cars!). I don’t mind the “dead parents” theme – it seems to be common in kids’ stories since before there were even films. It’s typical childhood fantasy/fear stuff. Kids afraid of being abandoned yet overcoming adversity and learning to cope…

The most damaging thing I’ve noticed about movie/TV watching is the attitude. Many shows (even that are supposed to be for under-7) have main characters that are very disrespectful to their parents and siblings. I hear my kids copying this, talking back to me, rolling their eyes at me, etc. and again it drives me CRAZY.

kara - November 15, 2011 - 11:29 pm

Yes, my kids used to beg for Netflix all of the time. I have such a love hate relationship with screen time for the kids (only thing I love is that it gives me a break to get stuff done). Yes, the consumerism that goes with Disney and many kid’s shows is annoying.
I also agree about bratty kid characters. Also, one of my other issues with disney (and many other shows)… is the use of words like stupid… idiot etc…

Diana - November 15, 2011 - 11:38 pm

I bought all the Fairie Tale Theater series (PBS circa early 80′s) on DVD. It is slow moving, but I’ve seen it captivate a 6 year old. Some are a little more frightening than others, but they are generally more like watching live theater. I don’t show it to Hazel yet of course, but Hazel is allowed to see Mr. Roger’s for fun every once in a while! I think you are right about Disney, I was terrified of my parents dying after seeing Bambi and Land Before Time when I was a child… Toy Story seems universally heartwarming and teaches lessons that are appropriate for young children.

Joan - November 16, 2011 - 12:34 am

My kids only watch television when they are sick or getting haircuts. when they do watch, it is nature videos (documentaries) without commercials. I have experimented with letting them watch more but when they do I see an increase in behavioral problems–and whining for more of the “magic box.” There’s already not enough time in the day for school, activities, free time and meal time. Disney generally has a lot of really objectionable messages regarding gender, class, race, etc. So do other movies that are intended for children. How many children’s movies have positive female protagonists? I want my daughter seeing role models for her to be a strong leader, not a cute sidekick.

Joan - November 16, 2011 - 12:35 am

P.S.–I did promise my 6 year old that he could watch Star Wars when he’s 7. That’s how old I was when I saw it. I may have to find an edited version.

Krista - November 16, 2011 - 7:28 am

We did zero t.v. until the age of two with both kids, and I think that helped set expectations with them. Now that they are 6 and 4, yes they watch some t.v., but they don’t watch it every day and it’s not something they ask for or expect regularly.

We’ve done some Disney movies, but the only princess movie Mia has seen is Tangled. Don’t get me started on the princess movies!

Kara, have you visited http://www.commonsensemedia.org/ ? This website has been extremely helpful for us in determining what is appropriate and what is inappropriate. You can look up movies and it tells you the “common sense rating” which is an age at which kids are ready to watch the movie. It tells you what to watch out for, what to talk to your kids about, etc. We use this before we watch anything. It’s hard when you have different ages, though, b/c I think we are a bit more lenient with what Alex watches now.

Check out this article too: http://articles.latimes.com/2011/sep/12/news/la-heb-spongebob-squarepants-children-brain-20110912

Disney online has some cute shows my kids like: Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Little Einsteins, Oso, etc. and we have Netflix, but we do not have cable. My kids get so annoyed when they go to the grandparents and have to sit through commercials.

As for the Spiderman – I know Nathan will let the kids watch the 1960′s Spiderman – I think the older ones are OK and less violent.

Jennifer - November 16, 2011 - 8:46 am

I will probably be the black sheep here. Both my husband and I have studied pop culture – him as a hobby and me as my degree. We also only have netflix and our movie selection or things from the library so Maeby isn’t just watching whatever on TV. She does watch more than she probably should, but not every day. We go days and days with no TV which is awesome, but there are also days (like today when I’m feeling super sick) that we snuggle up and watch cartoons on netflix or movies together. That’s the big thing for us – its NEVER a babysitter – its a family event. We LOVE movies and TV and pop culture – we named our daughter after a character in a TV show (Arrested Development if you’re wondering)! So for us, its part of family time. We do lots of other things too – we bike, walk, swim together every day too so I feel like we have a balance.

We have a wide variety of things we watch together too. We love the Planet Earth series and the Life series but we do watch most Disney films. The thing is that we also talk about them and what message they’re leaving. For example – Beauty and the Beast basically is a message that “If you stick with that mean abusive man he’ll eventually turn into a prince if you just love him enough” and we talk to Maeby about how we should let people treat us and what is and is not ok. She may be 3 but she does get the message. I have issues with ALL Disney movies. Even ones we love but for me they were such a part of both of our childhoods that we want to share some of that with Maeby. We also skip over some parts too – like in Peter Pan when they’re with the native tribe and there’s the very racist song about “the red man”. One thing that we seek out are those movies and books that have strong positive female characters – like Mulan and Jessie and even Ellie (from UP) who don’t wait for everyone else to take care of them. On the other hand we are also HUGE superhero nerds and Maeby (hasn’t seen) but knows all about Batman and Superman and Xmen. The girls in Xmen were a huge influence on me – being strong, independent women – growing up. Maeby is not old enough to watch those cartoons yet, but we tell her stories about them and we play together and she knows what they look like.

I don’t think that movies or tv are any worse than many toys out there – like Barbie, Bratz or other things that are around – they’re just another medium. Kids are going to be exposed to much of this and I’d rather talk to Maeby about it and corral it more in my home then have her come home from a friend’s house or a cousin’s house with her little mind blown.

I could say a lot more on this (like I said, this was my degree) but I will stop – I get a little long winded.

I will suggest Sean the Sheep as a great cartoon for anyone who is looking for something not annoying for their kids to watch every once in a while (its one of our favorites).

Mondisa - November 16, 2011 - 8:49 am

My 3 are allowed to watch about 1.5 hours spread over the day. Kaleb (4) wakes up pretty early so I let him watch Little Einsteins in the morning. I have banned Hanna Montana and Victorious from the house. I don’t think my 8 & 10 year old need to be watching high schoolers that are often disrespectful. I will occasionally tolerate iCarly. I have to shamefully admit that we all watch Sponge Bob as a family. ;) Right now, the kids are actually more interested in playing games than they are in watching TV. We have the Xbox Kinect, so they’re each allowed 30 minutes of play time depending on their attitudes and how the homework went. I think it’s all about balance. I expect them to spend a certain amount of time outside, even if that means they have to put on rain boot and rain coats. They can’t fall behind on their homework (including 30 minutes of reading) and a bad attitude will result in no TV or video games at all.

kara - November 16, 2011 - 8:58 am

Diana,
I loved that series when I was a kid!! I am going to have to check that out. Sofia loves Mr Rogers Neighborhood.
Joan,
I admire you. I honestly think that you are probably more “busy” than us though. There are some days that feel super rushed like I am running around all over, but I usually feel like there is some down time to our days even after the kids have played a ton. My hubby also loves star wars, so I’m sure that will be a part of their lives :). He has already shown them a few clips.
Jenn,
You are not a black sheep. See, because I do not have a love for tv… I will totally admit that I usually only use tv as a babysitter/time for my kids to have some down time. I feel like most of the day I try to be present with them, but there are times when I really need to get dinner made etc… without all 3 kids hanging on my legs. There definitely have been days when a sick child snuggled with me and watched more tv than usual. I will check out Sean the Sheep!
Mondisa,
We haven’t ventured into video games yet with our kids being little, but it will be interesting to think about how we handle it. The thing I love about all of you wonderful mamas, is that although we do things differently, it seems like everyone has put thought into how they do things at their house.
Krista,
Thanks so much for the resources!! I wish I could say that my kids never whine or ask for tv, but they do. Especially one of them. That is why I sometimes just want to altogether get rid of it… but if I am totally honest… I sometimes need that break to get stuff done, so we shall see what we do!

Jennifer - November 16, 2011 - 9:09 am

OK i know I’ve said a lot – but I was thinking about age appropriateness. And I think that it (like so many other things) goes back to your child’s temperament and personality and it’ll change on their age too. Some kids might not be phased or even register things that would devastate other kids regardless of their age. Its all about what their personality. I have a niece who is 9 who can’t handle watching animal shows/documentaries because “they all die” but her little sister who is 3 has no problem watching the sharks eat the seals. Knowing your own child and what their sensitivities are is a more important gauge than anything else.

Jasmin - November 16, 2011 - 9:45 am

I also prefer the older, “slower” movies. The movies today have that flash effect that I can’t quite explain. Movies from the 80s and 90s don’t have.
Disney movies also tend to have the humor based on characters getting hurt. Falling down stairs, getting accidentally hit with a frying pan. My hubby pointed out that The Princess and the Frog was like that and we nixed it.
They recently did a study at UVA where they had one group of kids under 6 watch 11 minutes of Calliou (PBS) show,one group watch SpongeBob Squarepants and one group draw and color. They then tested their executive functions. The group that watched Calliou and colored tested the same. The group that watched Spongebob did terrible. It took a while before their executive functions came back. Of course, Nickelodeon said that Spongebob is not made for kids under six.
I am all about Wizard of Oz. It does have the scary witch though and Dorothy melts her. Hmmmmm….

Jasmin - November 16, 2011 - 9:50 am

BTW I love how Jennifer talks about embracing TV as a family event. That is great. I want to adopt this. I also love pop culture and feel that we need to educate our children about it. Thank you.

Laurie - November 16, 2011 - 9:51 am

Oh Kara!
Such a charged topic. Casey and I have hardly been consistent, but here’s where we are at right now: No Netflix. Turned it of – tired of the kids asking for it, knowing that there is an entire season available and all they have to do is push the NEXT button. Quality of programming is so-so, there are great shows on there but most are not my favorites. The great part is you can always turn it back on if you want. For the past few years, we have had netflix through the winter and then turn it off for the summer months. Not this year!

I absolutely LOVE shows/cartoons with little to no dialogue, or a narrator. I find that these shows have a broad appeal across ages and cause the children to laugh. If my kids are laughing, loudly, I am happy. Of course, it is usually because an anvil dropped on someone’s head – but they are simple themes.

I am tempted (now that Henry and Miles are in school – ages 6 and 5) to have absolutely no TV during the day for June (age 2). It may take a month or so for her to get used to it, but I believe she will replace it with other quiet activities. I will save the TV for when they are all watching or Movie nights.

If there is no TV during the day (and when I say TV, I mean streaming shows and DVDs, no cable/channels in our house) then Movie Night can become a much more anticipated event. Even going to the theater will be a big deal.

Favorites – (could others share their favorites as well?)

Harold and the Purple Crayon (HBO series from the library or purchase, so good!)
Pingu, Kipper, Pink Panther (?!). Old Looney Tunes cartoons
Leapfrog Learn to Read (I don’t really believe in educational videos, but this one is good and they kids somehow absorb it all like sponges)
Live animal shows – Planet Earth, etc.
Toy Story, Ponyo, hmmm – others?

SpongeBob – (not a favorite, BUT Casey has worn me down on this one, and I have found him rather likable.There is a documentary on the show that is interesting)

Talk to you soon!

Amanda O. - November 16, 2011 - 10:16 am

So glad you asked this because I have been wanting to get Wyatt a few of the older (non princessy)Disney movies, but also feel as many of them aren’t super appropriate- but one I’m thinking of is Lady and the Tramp..Some of the newer ones that seem ok are Toy Story, Ratatiui(?), WallE. As for TV, we DVR WonderPets, Calliou, Peppa Pig and Some Mickey Mouse clubhouse. One my dad introduced Wyatt to was Tom and Jerry- thanks Dad. He loves it but so not super appropriate LOL. Of course Wyatt LOVES it.

So Wyatt usually gets to watch an hour-ish of t.v. in the afternoon while I’m prepping dinner or picking up. Some days its more and some days its none. It just depends on our schedule and how good of a mommy I am that day :) I’m with you on the no commercial thing.. Gotta love DVR for that :)

EmmaJ - November 16, 2011 - 10:44 am

Our time habits are the same, but we also watch Mr. Bean , Psych, and The Office (they really only watch when there is music to dance to and then they go and play until the next song). We almost always watch things before we let the kids watch them, and if we haven’t we turn it off if we feel it is inappropriete. I don’t worry about the parents getting killed or young girls getting married because as a little girl these aren’t things I noticed. I hate the merchandising and try to avoid it by buying Dvds or downloaded on Amazon.

adrienne w - November 16, 2011 - 12:24 pm

I used to worry a lot about how much TV my kids watched and beat myself up if it was too much. I’ve relaxed. I still monitor closely WHAT they watch. I find that as they get older and are busier, I don’t have worry about watching too much because they don’t have time. And they aren’t even old enough for homework. But I think that a lot of this depends on your child. My kids don’t veg. They do not sit still and are not very mesmerized by TV or movies. Often times, they watch a show or two and turn it off themselves. If it was an issue, I’d definitely have to regulate more. I find for Macartney, she really needs some down time to relax when she gets home from school, so she’ll got watch a show or two, sometimes by herself. Then she comes upstairs happy and relaxed and ready to talk about her day. I’m sure that reading with her would be a better option, but with 4 kids, that is a busy time for me trying to get dinner ready and such. I will admit that there are some mornings when Vienna (3) watches too much TV, while the older two kids are at school and the baby is sleeping, so that I can get things done, like take a shower! :) I’d like to manage my own time more effectively to make better use of that time with her. As far as what the kids watch: We don’t have Netflix because it kind of sucks in Canada, and we can’t get Hulu or anything like that here either. We have cable. Mostly because we ourselves like TV too much. But we PVR everything so we know exactly what the kids are watching. I like this, because when it ends, the younger kids don’t know how to put on a new show, so they won’t just watch shows back to back. Macartney knows how to use it, but again, I know what she’s watching. Luckily, she’s not at all into the tween shows like Hannah Montana or anything like that. Most of the shows the kids like are on PBS or CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which is similar to PBS). No commercials which is great! By far the favorite is Wild Kratts, which is an awesome show! The things the kids learn from that amazes me! My kids also love nature shows like Life. As far as Disney movies go, I hate the merchandising and I hate that some of them have language or themes that I’m not crazy about, but we buy most of the movies. My kids don’t watch them very often. I still like them from my youth, but the kids aren’t that interested. We like Bolt a lot. I find it doesn’t have anything objectionable in it and it’s good for both boys and girls. Toy Story is good, but the neighbor kid and the mutant toys might scare some kids. Other non-Disney movies that we like are Rio (the kids LOVE this one right now!) and I think that Curious George is a great one for little kids because it doesn’t have any “stupids” or anything like that and not really a bad guy in it. (I think they say idiot or moron, once, though.)
In some ways, I think the shows our kids can watch now are way better. There is definitely an attempt to make them politically correct with a moral message and teaching something. Even Disney tries to have a positive message! Some of the stuff we watched was so mindless. We’ve run into a few shows that are just mindless entertainment that the kids want to watch, but we just limit it. And if I don’t like a show, they don’t watch it, no matter how much they like it!
I think that it is important to talk to kids about what they watch. We have had lots of conversations about how it’s not okay to call people stupid or idiots and saying shut up is not allowed. And I do attempt to limit the shows and movies that have that in them. And again, it’s about knowing your kids.
We watched The Wizard of Oz last year with the kids and I didn’t think they paid very much attention. But when Denver and I saw Wicked this summer, the kids asked what it was about and I told them and they remembered Wizard of Oz. I think it’s fine for kids if you don’t think the flying monkeys will scare them. They kind of freaked me out when I was little.

Amanda N. - November 17, 2011 - 2:33 pm

I’m going to resist the inclination to let this post/discussion convince me I am a bad mom. I know there are days my kids watch way too much tv. But there are days they don’t watch any. I do monitor what they watch, but I’m not as stringent as other moms out there, I guess. Some days having them watch too much tv is better than the alternative. i.e…me going crazy and strangling them. I kid, I kid. But really, some days are rough…let’s be honest.

adrienne w - November 17, 2011 - 7:50 pm

Amanda N., you are absolutely right. That’s why I stopped beating myself up about it a few years ago. I always have room for improvement, but sometimes, it is definitely better than me yelling and being impatient, because I’m feeling overwhelmed. I’d rather my kids remember that they watched a little too much TV at times than that I was always impatient with them. Obviously neither of those are ideal, but life is rarely ideal. Sorry, Kara, for having so much to say, I just wanted Amanda to know that she is NOT alone and this does NOT make her a bad mom!

Chrissy - November 18, 2011 - 8:47 am

What a great topic!
With my MIL coming into town next week, I am revving up for a discussion on why Ella shouldn’t be plopped in front of the tube with her (she’s the type who has BOTH TVs in her house on ALL DAY in “the background”).
We don’t have Cable, and only get a couple PBS stations. I don’t like any of the kid’s morning nor afternoon shows that PBS offers, so that should probably deter her usual habits of making TV a focal point of “spending time together.”
But enough ranting on that.
Our family is pretty music-oriented, so we indulge in watching “The Sound of Music” (first half, far more entertaining than the Nazi-filled second half) and sing-along vids like Thomas The Tank Engine. We sing all the songs on long car/bike trips. It’s too bad Thomas and the gang always seem to be getting “cross” with those who succeed…?
Anyway, we also love the Japanese Ghibli Studio films. Particularly:
Kiki’s Delivery Service
My Neighbor Totoro
Ponyo

All are carried by the library. So many good messages about respecting elders, your parents, being responsible, etc etc. And no real “bad guy target”.
At least so far in Ella’s life there are zippo commercial ads, and we try not to let her watch CG films (like Toy Story) and such. Guess we have issues with the “blurring the lines of reality” part of it all~?

Kara - November 18, 2011 - 10:01 am

Amanda,
Of course you are not a bad mom. Most of us have turned on an extra show on a bad day or when we were exhausted, but the thing I am trying to prevent for myself is that it doesn’t become a habit and that it is hopefully an every once in awhile thing. Habits are hard to break at my house. Amanda, we know from our Wasatch days that it takes a lot more to mess a kid up than a little extra tv :).
Chrissy,
Yes, I do not love background tv that is left on hour after hour. Good luck with that my dear!

juliette - November 19, 2011 - 8:34 pm

Thanks for such a stimulating post, Kara.
Thanks to Krista for the common sense website…very useful!
And a while back, I checked out the Smurfs from the library…Not only a positive message, but laugh-out-loud fun for five year-olds! I admit it’s kinda weird; My feminist side chafes at there being only one smurfette, but I can overlook that because I love the message of working together.

Zoe- Oh! Free Shipping

A while back I did a review/giveway for a Zoey-Oh bib.  Danielle from Zoey-Oh is generously offering a holiday special of free shipping on her bibs. All you have to do is become a fan on facebook if you aren’t already, and when you check out, make sure to enter the special code: FBHOL11FREESHIP. I love […]

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EmmaJ - November 14, 2011 - 10:57 am

I love these too! They are a great size (they fit my 4 and 1 1/2 year olds) and they wash up so easily in the washing machine.

The Queen Who Couldn’t Speak

This is a picture of me in the 4th grade.  The thing that I love most about this picture is that I am wearing a turtleneck and snowman sweatshirt in probably September or October. I guess that my lack of following fashion rules started early (and I just wore my BR linen pants to work […]

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Kim - November 11, 2011 - 5:56 am

I, too, got in trouble for talking to much. I remember my first grade teacher – Mrs. Campbell. I think she had to teach first grade because it was the only grade where she was taller than all the students. My best friends – both Amy. And getting to go with my 4th grade teacher to the local ice cream place to pick up milk shakes for our entire class!

Sarabeth - November 11, 2011 - 7:29 pm

I may have been insanely popular in the 4th grade, but that was only because I was the new girl. It wore off quickly:) 6th grade on – I was pretty much a loser. Comparatively, anyway.

Mrs. Stahl really was the best, wasn’t she?

Amanda N. - November 17, 2011 - 2:25 pm

Oh my gosh! This is the cutest picture ever!!

The Real Housewives of Benton County Present: Leonne Bannister-Mi Casa Es Su Casa

  When you meet Leonne, you instantly like her. She is genuine, fun, and she just radiates kindness. I feel like I can be my complete self around Leonne.  She accepts people for who they are, and she is a thoughtful and patient mom. I feel very blessed and grateful to call Leonne a friend. […]

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camie - November 9, 2011 - 7:17 am

I got to chat a bit with Leonne at the pool this summer after we’d just moved here. It was partly because of her that I thought people in Corvallis are very friendly. So neat that she has a foster child in her home. Two foster children in my home growing up became siblings!!

Jacqueline - November 9, 2011 - 11:08 am

What a nice interview! I love Leonne dearly and I’m overjoyed that she has made some very good friends in Corvallis. Hopefully our family will be making the move from CA soon. xoxo

Maggi - November 9, 2011 - 5:24 pm

Your gain is my loss. When the family moved from next door
I missed them so and I still miss them, but am so happy she
has found great happiness and has such a fulfilling life.

adrienne w - November 10, 2011 - 3:37 pm

What a great job! I’d love to do something like that, if we had it here. Again, you know some amazing women!!

6 years old!!

This is Sofia at 1: This is Sofia now: I love this little girl. She made me a mama 6 year ago,and she has brought so much joy into our lives. To celebrate her birthday, Sofia invited a few friends to go to Lisa’s tea room in Philomath for a fancy tea party. What a […]

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Wendy M. - November 8, 2011 - 5:35 am

What a perfect place for a 6th birthday party! Looks like a lovely time. I cannot believe how much she looks like you…she’s adorable! Allison was just asking when she might see Sophia…we will have to get together soon…

Kara - November 8, 2011 - 9:09 pm

Wendy,
Any time after school. The whole full day school kind of fills our schedule, but we are up for play after!

adrienne w - November 10, 2011 - 3:35 pm

Aaaaaawww. What a great party! She’s such a cutie. And I love that she’s loud like her mama!