Tuned In

Protecting Our Kids from Shows That Suck

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Apropos of this morning’s Clone Wars post

I received a screener DVD collection of season one of The Smurfs yesterday and promptly hid it. For most people, that would be a natural reaction to traumatic childhood memories of Gargamel. For me, it’s that I don’t want my children to find it, and thereby know of The Smurfs’ existence.

It’s an occupational hazard of TV criticism: I get deluged with products, some of which I watch with my kids as lab rats, some of which I share with them gladly (Looney Tunes, Yo Gabba Gabba!, etc.), and some of which I take pains to keep from them, lest they love it and I must suffer the consequences. I don’t particularly fear my kids’ getting exposed to dirty or superviolent pop culture, at least not yet—they tend to shy away from scary stuff, anyway. I just don’t want them exposed to popular culture that sucks. (They already discovered the old Scooby-Doo series, which made for several unpleasant months.)

I’m guessing this is a common experience of parents out there. You don’t necessarily want to forbid your kids a TV show just because it offends your aesthetic sensibilities. On the other hand, Dora’s voice is so damn annoying. (And what about that pushy Boots? “Say ‘Map’! Say ‘Map’!” Say this!)

So I put it to the parents out there: Are there any children’s shows/products you wish your kids had never discovered? And to the childless: what kids’ shows would you share with your hypothetical future kids, and what ones would you ban from your home? Trust me: it is never too soon to start planning.