I’ve read the research, I’ve seen the warnings: Don’t let children under 2 have ANY screen time. (though pediatricians may now be coming to terms with the times.) And part of me totally gets it. There’s a lot of stimulation happening on these screens. And down the line, I do want RJ to grow up knowing what it’s like to want to play outside, wanting to interact with real kids, and racing home before the street lights come home…or else. But as a child of the internet generation, I also understand the importance of being able to navigate technology (read: screens) on your own. It’s quite a hassle to have to outsource all of your electronic troubleshooting to someone else. How fun it was to play all day, then hop on my grandparent’s computer after dinner to relax and play The Sims. How fun it was to send my very first emails to the cast of “Clueless” (probably production interns) and get an autographed picture in return. How fun it was to watch reruns of the Brady Bunch with my grandma and stay up way past my bedtime to watch SNL. Without screens, I’d have none of those memories, and I think I turned out pretty fine. I mean, i’m communicating with my “tribe” about motherhood right here on the world wide web, the irony.
So when I read those articles, I always walk away a little torn. BUT, then I give a quick *Kanye shrug* and keep it pushin’.
Why? Not because I don’t care. It’s because TV viewing and screen time, for my child, are hardly just virtual baby sitters. To me they are tools, but we’ll get into that in S seconds.
First of all, try making a kid under 2 watch TV anyway, it ain’t happening. My kid doesn’t give two cents about whatever colorful, glittery creature is running around on the TV, but he does absolutely love music and dancing!
The most we make it through is the opening credits/ theme song, and after that he loses interest and goes back to whatever plaything will have his attention next. The fan favorite in this household (confession: I’m the “fan”) is Little Einsteins, with Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood (Ugga Mugga) and Sid the Science Kid coming in at a close second and third. We fare better on shows with songs throughout, and I’m really ok with that. One thing I want most for my kid in life, is that he have rhythm.
So whenever we can groove to some music or watch TV with music incorporated, this mama is all for it. Plus, I don’t just leave him in front of the TV, I actually sit and watch it with him and try to work with him to interact with the shows. This is something I’ve done all my life, from babysitting my cousins when they were younger, to my babysitting days in college, and now as a mom. I really try my best to find shows that do more than just entertain for my little people to watch. I help himclap along, I encourage him to answer the questions the little characters pose, I try to ask follow up questions, and I steal some of the songs to sing later.
I also have a rule about the shows we consume, I must be entertained by the show. After all, if an adult can actually be entertained, amused, or genuinely enjoy a children’s show, there is something to be said about it and It’s probably not so dumb. Once upon a time, I also dabbled with the idea of producing children’s television, something I may revisit in the future of my TV production career.
The above options are all shows that I can actually sit and watch. Add Diego, Backyardigans (*note: full episodes are available on Youtube), Sesame Street, and Arthur to that list, but those aren’t currently on Netflix so we’ll save them for another time.
However, there is a really fucking cool Australian-Canadia produced show on Netflix right now that
you your kids must check out: The Beat Bugs.
This show is one of those rare gems that will entertain the heck out of you and keep you wanting to watch more and more episodes to find out how they will incorporate some very good music into the storylines.
You see, The Beat Bugs uses music by the Beatles to tell “love-filled moral stories to children” through the adventures of 5 child-like bugs.
Series creator Josh Wakely knew he wanted to use the Beatles’ music from the very beginning and it took him 3 years to finally get all the rights to it. He says, “The writing in their music is so ripe for reinterpretation, and the characters and world that I created was so tied to the imagination of their songs that I knew I needed them. People in years to come will talk about the Beatles like we talk about Shakespeare.”
The characters are cute, the humor is funny for the whole family, and the music, the music is amazing. Though the series doesn’t use original recordings, guests like Pink (“Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds), Sia (“Blackbird”), and James Corden (“I’m A Loser”) help bring the Beatles to a completely new audience — your kids. Making them the 4th generation to enjoy the music of the Fab Four. The singers who voice the bugs are also quite talented. I find the little Cricket to have the best singing voice. and the way the songs are weaved into the storylines is truly artful. It’s a fun little surprise to see how each will be worked into the episodes’ adventures and conflicts seamlessly. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” comes about when one of the bugs can’t fall asleep. She meets a helpful bird with kaleidoscope eyes who helps her envision good things that finally help her fall asleep.
Season 1 is on Netflix now and season 2 will premiere on November 18. And even better news, The Beat Bugs creator, Josh Wakely, has a children’s series in development with Smokey Robinson that will feature Motown songs!
Mamas, I’m interested in hearing about some of your favorite kids shows for
your own enjoyment your kids. Leave ’em in the comments.