No more “16 & Pregnant”

I love trashy magazines.  I particularly like reading them at the gym because it takes no brain power and helps me pass the time instead of obsessing about how much I dislike stair climbers.  They are also good for pedicures if I’m not absorbed in a book at that moment.  The part(s) I like about the magazines are the pictures, sometimes human-interest stories and absolutely-laughable “truths” the mags come up with (this week’s US proclaims that Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds are an item, read the actual article and it’s all speculation, no hard facts).

The part that bothers me the most is the underage, reality TV stuff.  I’ve gone off before about OctoMom and Kate/Jon/8 and how stupid it all appears to those of us that live in actual reality.  The “16 & Pregnant” show and related attention really bothers me.  I get the promoted intent is showing young teens what it really means to have a kid, give it up for adoption, how it impacts your life, etc.  When I was in high school, it was the Egg Baby assignment.  Some friends at other schools had sacks of flour.  Granted, these inanimate objects are nothing like caring for a real baby.  Not even sure it gives a true picture on how hard it is.  Maybe just a flavor.  Like a mint leaf.

In the same US Weekly that talked about Sandy & Ryan, there were 2 separate references to Season 1 of “16 & Pregnant”.  The first (perhaps most gag-worthy) was a shot of one of those moms in a bikini at the beach.  What does this have to do with anything other than twisted voyeurism?  The other was an article about the one arrest and facing charges of battery (of her ex).  I don’t know the girl’s name, or the kid, or anything about what their specific story is since I never watched the show on TV.  I don’t have any interest in learning more details, I have better gossip to waste my time on.

WHY are these girls being sensationalized by the paparazzi, gossip mongering public (like me)  OK – season’s over – leave the girls alone to live a real life with their choices.  What lesson is it teaching the younger girls that the show is over yet they continue to see these girls and their cute kids in weekly gossip mags and mentioned on the E! network?  Without really showing what is going on in their lives?  Or why we should have intimate details about domestic abuse or neglect?  How does making them reality celebrities really providing the lesson that was originally intended?  Stop them making some chunks of money off of articles and photos across all the varieties of gossip rags, put them back into an anonymous existence.  What’s even scarier – what are these kids going to grow up and learn?  What sort of values are we teaching our kids, their kids, the world?  UGH!  It’s so freaking disgusting!

So disgusting indeed…

Television and (my) Kids

Recently someone at work on a parenting list posted this article done by Canadian researchers that Toddler TV Linked to Low Math Scores.  There was a variety of responses from the parents.  Mostly along the lines of – OMG is this really news?!  As I’ve often said before on the more inane “scientific” research reports that are announced.  Granted, this is Microsoft so many parents often have a sense of superiority and snobbery to the rest of the planet of parents.  What?!  It’s true – so don’t you dare flame me! (and I didn’t say ALL parents)

One of the parents did an informal poll asking – how old are your kids, how much time do they watch TV, what shows do they watch.  OK – I’ll bite, I responded.  In case you all are curious – mine is 7, 1-2 hours a day.  I replied that she watches – Cyberchase, Fetch with/ Ruff Ruffman, Phineas & Ferb, Bindi the Jungle Girl, Fraggle Rock, How It’s Made, Food Network.  This doesn’t account for the time she watches movies (mostly on the weekend) and any iTouch/computer screen time.

I got the results this morning.

I had the oldest kids of the respondents.  People actually said their kids watches 10 minutes a day.  Or that they never watch shows, but the TV is on in the background all the time (um…that counts!)  I guess what surprises me is how defensive people are.  How quickly parents flip into this I Do The Right Thing Mode and truth or not, tell the answer they think people want to hear.  How the world will be SO much better for their kid because of how much and what they watch.

I don’t really have the same outlook.  Yes, I monitor how much A watches.  Yes, I have say in what she watches.  I don’t think TV is rotting her brain.  One of her top faves right now is Cyberchase.  She got a Cyberchase computer game for her birthday (which she loves).  If you don’t know Cyberchase – it’s a very logic/math based mystery solving show.  On the other side of television, once in a while she will watch The Fairly Odd Parents which I don’t think has much value at all.  Sure, it has a veiled message of values – but never my first choice.  I’d rather she watch Phineas & Ferb – those boys come up with the craziest creative ideas of “what to do today”, it’s funny and I enjoy watching it with her.

Guess what people!  My kid LOVES math! She excels at math! It’s easy for her (yes, tooting my own math-degreed horn)

I think about the shows my brother and I watched.  Sure, we had a lot of exposure to PBS and Nickelodeon.  Then there were the Smurfs, Care Bears, Speed Racer, Krofft Brothers, Animaniacs, etc etc etc!  We also were plastered in front of the TV every Saturday watching 3 hours of Bug Bunny.  If anything is going to rot your brain, it’s Bugs Bunny.  Apply today’s logic and the two of us should be insane, cross-dressing, carrot chomping, hot head deviants pushing people off of cliffs and carrying guns around shooting at anything that moves.

I turned out OK.

We cannot blame how our kids turn out based on television, xBox, iPad, computer time they have.  As parents, I feel we have a duty to monitor, make choices, and (probably most important) set boundaries on anything our kids are exposed to as they grow up.  Actually, most important is to engage with them and talk about “smart” viewing choices.  Explain why I won’t let her watch Hannah Montana because I don’t think Miley Cyrus is a good role model or the Little Mermaid because she gives up who she is for a man.  Sometimes I get that confused look, but A doesn’t push back on me.

I’m not even going to talk about the days the TV isn’t on at all, that’s another story for another time.  This one is about taking control of the television, engage with the kid, and remember that we turned out OK. 

Make smart choices, that’s all I ask.