Written by contributor Amida of Journey into Unschooling
I grew up on a lot of TV. The first show I remember ever watching was a cartoon called Xiao Tian Tian. I had lived with a lot of other kids and every dinner, we’d all grab our bowls of rice, leave our families, and gather around the tiny screen to watch. I don’t recall a single dish I ate, but can still hear the theme song in my head…
We got our first TV set when I was around five. It had turn dials, rabbit ears, and no remote control. The first show that came on was Wile E. Coyote trying to catch his Road Runner.
I spent a huge chunk of my childhood glued to that set, watching black and white shows like Ma and Pa Kettle and Shirley Temple. I moved on to Land of the Lost, Lost in Space, The Brady Bunch, Facts of Life, Silver Spoons, Family Ties, Diff’rent Strokes, The Cosby Show, Small Wonder, Out of This World, Valerie, Valerie’s Family, Hogan Family, Punky Brewster, Growing Pains, Just the Ten of Us, Who’s the Boss, What’s Happening, 21 Jump Street, MTV, and Headbanger’s Ball, just to name a few.
Not to mention Looney Toons, Popeye, Smurfs, GI Joe, Transformers, Robotech, He-Man, She-Ra, Thunder Cats, Jem, and Dungeons and Dragons.
Most of the homeschooling kids I know nowadays don’t watch a lot of television. However, we parents do, late at night, when said kids are in bed. I’d tell you we’re catching up on TED talks but more often than not, it’s the latest Two and a Half Men episode or mindless action flick.
Just last night, we watched Judge Dredd take out a whole block of drug dealing baddies. Welcome to the wonderful world of streaming media.
I would worry about a lost childhood filled with useless cultural references (Hannah Who?), but my kids are at least addicted to Minecraft. They have an in, a conversation starter. So what if they aren’t personal with SpongeBob or speak Spanish a la Dora the Explorer? I am sure they will be fine.
My own TV addiction filled my mind with all sorts of useless trivia and jingles. It has allowed me to understand what it means to say, “Marcia! Marcia! Marcia!” and not let anyone switch stations when At This Moment comes on the radio. I learned opera (“Kill the Rabbit!”) from Elmer Fudd and know that maybe the world is blind and just a little unkind.
I have been known to hum the Smurfs'”La la la la la la” song for no particular reason.
Or interrupt conversations with “Thunder! Thunder! Thunder Cats! Hoooooooo!!!”
Or even rattle off things like:
I’m Adam, Prince of Eternia and defender of the secrets of Castle Grayskull. This is Cringer, my fearless friend. Secrets were revealed to me the day I held aloft my magic sword and said, “By the Power of Grayskull! I HAVE THE POWER!!!” Cringer became the mighty Battle Cat and I became HE-MAN, The Most Powerful Man In The Universe!!!”
But I digress. The point I’m trying to make is, my kids don’t watch a lot of TV. It will rot their brains.
Now you know. And knowing is half the battle. Yo, Joe!
Do your children watch TV? Are you a closet TV viewer?