Thursday, January 10, 2008

thoughts for thursday

Hey, can you believe it? I'm actually doing a Thoughts for Thursday again! It seems like it's been for. ever. what with my little step back hiatus and then all the holidays and everything. So here we go... today I'm thinking about:

Do our kids get to be kids these days?
This has been on my mind for a couple of months and with my post yesterday all about my four-and-a-half year old, it seems like it fits to ponder these things today.
We all know how things have changed, just from when we were kids. Most often it seems the days of kids playing in the neighborhood, classic toys and all around childhood innocence is all but gone. We teach our kids to be wary of strangers, not to leave our sight, and who lets their kids walk to school anymore? Society seems to either over schedule kids or leave them to sit in front of tv or video games for hours. Playing violent games, no less. When I was 7 years old, I barely remember any tv (except for Saturday mornings)... I remember so much "playing". Lots of imagination and make believe. I remember running around the culdesac with the neighbor kids, riding bikes and making up adventures until dark. On this topic, check out this cool website I found the other day. Playborhood is a place where parents and communities are coming together to let kids be kids, so to speak. Check out the articles on that site... there's much food for thought. Also the about page and especially Playborhood founder, Mike's synopsis of what's in store for our kids these days and why he wants to do something about it. I think it's a great mission. As a stay at home mom I'm feeling compelled to be facilitating that for not only my kids, but for others who maybe can't be home during the week to just let kids "play". I don't know exactly what that looks like yet, but I'm willing to see how that might take shape. I don't want to take for granted the fact that I'm home with my kids and that because of that, it might be easier to give them those opportunities. I want to see if I can somehow be a part of that for others.

*****
That's all kind of a more general aside to the original thought I've been wanting to write about.
Along the same lines, in the past few months this has been bugging me.
Savannah's four-and-a-half. She's just starting to outgrow Dora and Blue and many of those preschool shows. She's still all about Disney movies and princesses and now likes Hello Kitty, Charlie and Lola and other shows like Arthur and Maya & Miguel. These are mostly about Elementary age kids doing elementary aged things.
Now, Savannah has a few friends who talk about Hannah Montana, she recognizes that logo in the stores and the same goes for High School Musical. I have to admit I'm a bit confused with this, as we are talking about 4 and 5 year old girls. Correct me if I'm mistaken, but isn't it called High School Musical? And I do realize that it isn't actually intended for high schoolers and that it's probably a bit "below" many of them, but I do think preschool and kindergarten is a bit young for it. I've watched Hannah Montana once or twice, curious to see what Savannah was "missing out on", and it's a perfectly good show; I saw nothing objectionable or innapropriate... for maybe an 8 year old. I mean, they're in what?... Middle School in that show? They're dating and flirting and going to classes and while it's all fun and there are great lessons to be learned in the show, I just don't think it's what my four year old needs to be watching. If she's watching things like this at 4 and 5, what is she going to be watching by the time she's 10??! I just don't get it. Why do we want our kids to grow up so fast?
A blogger I read was super excited a few months back because she got tickets for her daughter and her to go to the big Hannah Montana concert (you know, the ones where tickets were selling for thousands of dollars?)... and her daughter is five! About the same time we went to a four year old friend's party and she was playing her favorite cd... Hannah Montana. Also this fall another friend was telling me all about her neice's 5th birthday party, the theme being High School Musical, with most of her gifts revolving around her favorite movie. I'm not saying this is bad. Sure, it might be great music, I think Miley Cyrus seems to be a great role model, and I think the premise behind the High School Musical movie is great... I just don't know if it applies to my daughter right now. I hope there are great shows and movies and singers like this for Savannah to get excited about... in a few more years. I just don't think she needs to be going to major concerts and into things like that at not even five years old.
Why do we want them to grow up so quickly when they already do it too fast on their own?

What are your thoughts?

*Just wanted to add... if you're ever looking for a great place to find rundowns of shows, music, or movies, both kids' and adults', Commonsensemedia.org is the best website I've found. It is especially family friendly as it tells you exactly what is or might be objectionable in the specific media your searching. They give a good age appropriate verdict and the reviews I've read vs. the things I've actually seen/heard they're all pretty much right on. Theirs are the notes I linked to for identifying the shows I talked about.

9 comments:

Heather S. said...

I have to admit that we have let Norah watch High School Musical. I agree that the storyline is a little above her, but the music and dancing is great! She is the type of kid to watch the songs, then leave the room to play with toys, then come back when the next song is on.
I have never watched Hannah Montana and I don't think Norah has even heard of it. Norah's favorites are Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Sesame Street and Strawberry Shortcake. She was on a kick for a while when she really liked Mary Poppins and Charlotte's Web.
When it comes to the amount of TV, the girls watch Sesame Street almost everyday and then one 1/2 program/dvd when Norah does her breathing treatment. On Saturdays, she might watch one extra show - usually 1/2 hour. I try to be very particular about how much they watch.

Heather S. said...

Oh, I forgot - I really like www.pluggedinonline.com to get movie reviews from a Christian perspective.

Amy said...

i whole heartedly agree with your point of view about letting kids be kids. my boys are 7.5 and 4.5. they do watch the high school musical movies quite frequently as we have the dvds, but they too watch sing the songs and dance practically the entire time. they love it! i agree that some of the implied things are for older kids, but in their case, it goes over their heads. in my case my oldest is almost 8. my youngest however, gets to watch it more by default. unfortunately it's just not as easy to keep the younger ones babies! that being said my oldest one still watches all the more preschool type shows when matt or thomas are watching them (and we do make time for them to see these types of shows). john will see "arthur" episodes and say that used to be his favorite. one thing, i don't allow them to watch is cartoon network. i really dislike most of the stuff i have seen on that channel.

JessicaP said...

Alyssa is obsessed with music, and yes that now includes Hannah Montana. The songs are catchy, and they all have good lyrics. Some are over her head, but she just wants to dance and sing. (She also loves the Disney Princesses collection, and VeggieTales) She has seen the Hannah Montana show maybe twice, the tv usually isn't on at that time of day...but I'm kinda on the fence with it all.

She gets very bored with the morning cartoons, and honestly, that's fine with me...I'd rather her be playing than watching...but when it's her special movie/tv time, I struggle.

Do I want her to watch Hannah Montana go thru things that she'll go thru eventually (and learn good lessons from it), watch High School Musical where she spends the entire movie standing up and dancing, having a total blast, or do I want her to watch Aladdin where it starts with "I had to slit a few throats to get it", and then he goes on to lie, cheat and steal most of the movie, or Sleeping Beauty and then she comes to me with questions like "Mommy, why did that mean witch want Sleeping Beauty to die, and why did she talk about hell"?

Thankfully, Alyssa still loves VeggieTales, so that is usually our go-to around here. We have the Food Network on for background noise a lot as well, and it's so funny the things she picks up from it...I'll hear her playing chef in her room talking about "we're going to add a hundred pounds of salt"...lol.

I do wish that there was more for the 5-8 age range...I feel like those are in-between ages that fall thru the cracks. It would be so nice to have a few more kindergarten-aged shows/movies that are more educational!

Michelle Leigh said...

This is such a touchy subject with me. While I want to protect my girls from anything that may harm them, I know I don't have that control all the time. I don't want them to live in a sheltered world either. But, as far as them being kids, I do have control to enable them. I'm home with them so I can foster that creativity and play and choose what they do. As far as tv shows go, well, I'm not quite there yet. We are still into Dora and Blues. Sesame Street is soooo last year with Annika, but it's still on the list of appropriate shows. It's hard to maintain all of this when the world is such a rushed place, and it's easy to turn on the tv while making dinner, but I think with a little effort, we really can allow these kids to be kids. Great topic!

Michelle Leigh said...

I should also mention this blog: http://stickyfeathers.typepad.com/sticky_feathers/

Jenny talks about a similar topic today.

jessica said...

Well, this is a good topic. I didn't want Grace, my 11-year-old to see High School Musical at a birthday party the first time I heard about it. I mean, it's HIGH SCHOOL musical, right? She told me all about it, and I checked it out on the internet. It is all about the songs and dancing. And it's a pretty pure story, too. I realized I needed to not be scared off by that title. We ended up going to a production later. It was great.

She also wants to watch PG-13 movies, and so far, that's been something I haven't okayed, except on the rarest occasions. This is a source of frustration for her. But so far, I don't budge much.

I also feel that I was able to hold stronger with my first, and even second child when it came to what they watched. But now they are older, their tastes are a little more sophisticated (I am certain that isn't the right word, actually). They are beyond Blue's Clues, anyway. I don't like many cartoons that are on now, like Sponge Bob, but my husband thinks it's pretty funny, for a kids' show. So he'll watch that with them over some other cheesy kid sitcom type of shows. Therefore, my toddler now shouts out "Bobby" and thinks she loves it. This bothers me, but what can I do? I love the man that loves Sponge Bob. This is his house and his family too. I concede.

So, I guess I try to care, but not too much. They shouldn't watch too much tv, and that will happen at my house if I (or we) don't stop it. It is a constant challenge to keep them doing other things during free time. Thankfully, during the school year, there isn't much time available for watching tv. We're just too busy.

When we were kids there wasn't kid tv on 24 hours a day; there weren't channels devoted to kid shows. We had Saturday morning and that was it. I still remember visiting my Dad and him saying we could chose one show (between three sisters) each Saturday and that was it. How could he?!?

That same Dad just gave my big kids "The Dangerous Book for Boys" and "The Daring Book for Girls" filled with all kinds of things to do that don't involve sitting in front of a screen. They are loving those books.

I've rambled on...

mikelanza said...

Thanks for the kind words about Playborhood.com!

We're *really* digging in on trying to solve this kids' play in neighborhoods problem. I'm so glad to see you intend to do something for your neighborhood about it.

I have a suggestion for you: We've created the ability to easily create "Playborhood Local" sites like our first one for Palo Alto / Menlo Park, CA (http://pamp.playborhood.com). Other parents from Toronto, Atlanta, and Minneapolis suburbs are currently working with us to launch their own Playborhood Local sites.

How about you? Ask me (mike@playborhood.com) if you have questions about this.

Kristi *sweet* Sauer said...

I think a lot of times society hypes things up so much that the kids hear about new trends and want to be a part of it (or parents enable them by buying into these current trends).
As long as the content isn't totally apprpriate, I don't think it is too harmful. I mean, what 1-2 year old understands any Disney movie completely, but they all watch them anyway, don't they??? A lot of animated movies have humor geared toward adults too, the kids just don't "get it" so they don't pick up on it.

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