Saturday, 15 May 2010

Why my children think Spongebob doesn't live on our TV......

I was reading a post yesterday by Potty Mummy, who has just introduced her boys to the joys of Scooby Doo. My reply was that while I loved Scooby Doo as a child, my children have never actually watched it, because I have no idea what channel it would be shown on here.

This is partly because I find the enormous number of channels available in the US baffling. I watch about three of them - the main networks - and while we are changing our cable package next week to a different provider, this is solely because this one supplies BBC America (new Doctor Who here we come...). The rest are largely unexplored territory; occasionally I make a foray into Comedy Central, but that's about it.

But there is another reason actually; despite the huge array of choice in kids' programming out here, the Littleboys are only ever tuned to one channel - Nick Jr., of Dora the Explorer and Diego fame - or else, DVDs.

The reason for this is not that I am a massive devotee of Nick Jr (although some of the shows are quite sweet and reasonably educational). It is mainly because it does not show advertising. But it's also because I am censoring their television consumption in a hardline Chinese manner. I know, you see, that if they discover where the other channels are 'kept', they will want to watch them......

Littleboy 1, for instance, is vaguely aware that there are cartoon channels. On the odd occasion where I've tuned to the wrong channel by mistake, he's immediately spotted the contraband older kids' cartoons and wanted to watch them. He knows about Spongebob - he's watched it on various occasions in hotels - but so far, doesn't know that there is a channel on our TV where it can be watched. I'm sure as he gets older - probably when he starts school in September - he will swiftly work this out, and tune into the dreaded Squarepants (whose humour I definitely think is too sophisticated for preschoolers) but if I can delay that moment, I will.

I've never been one for banning TV entirely - to be honest, it is the ONLY thing that even vaguely calms them down and enables me to get on with anything else in the house (which of course involves important household matters, and not, er, blogging). In the UK, Cbeebies frequently saved my life when I was trying to work from home (again, it was the ony channel allowed) and here, they are allowed to watch TV as and when they want to, as long as it isn't for too long at a stretch.

But censor it I will. Perhaps inspired by my Mum, (who never allowed us to watch what she called "American rubbish"), the boys will live in a little world where there is only one channel for a little while longer. (No doubt in ten years time they'll be lying on some shrink's couch saying: 'My mum lied to me about Spongebob'..........)

And when the guy comes on Monday to install our new TV package, all I'm going to say to him is this; make sure BBC America works, and I'll be happy.

20 comments:

SaMama said...

I'm even more hardline than you... Charlie & Lola and Kipper DVDs for the children only, until I need incentive for them to tidy up their rooms. Then it's "How Clean is Your House?" Works wonders.

Potty Mummy said...

Thanks for the name-check - and it sounds like you and I have the same approach. Mind you, that's easier here where they can't actually understand the local channels. And of course we are still both more laid back than our mothers (mine also disapproved of 'american rubbish', anything that wasn't educational, anything that didn't have children speaking with an 'rp' accent, cartoons - except Dangermouse, for some reason. SO hard done by, we were...)

Iota said...

We veto the American-teenagers-being-smart-arses shows (Drake and Josh, I Carly, others...)

3.5 years on, and I still really have no idea what all these hundreds of channels are. We're seriously thinking of dropping cable. We pay huge amounts each month, for the privilege of BBC America news (which we rarely watch, actually, though in theory it's nice), and for older son to keep up with the English soccer leagues, and for the younger two to poison their minds with manga cartoons like Pokemon and Bakugan. We're thinking we can maybe find a better way to spend that money.

I think you'll get to like Spongebob as yours get older. He's fairly innocuous, as cartoons go, and once you get used to the humour, it's quite funny. He bridges the gap between preschool stuff, and grown-up stuff. He and Scooby have pretty much cornered that market, between them, and I'm grateful to them because at least it keeps the 7 - 10 year old boys away from less suitable fare.

Almost American said...

Nick Jr doesn't have advertising? Why didn't I know that?
I know why - we had basic basic cable for the longest time - i.e the cheapest possible package they offer, so cheap they don't advertise it and you have to know to ask for it! ($7/month!) So my kids have grown up watching little but PBS. For a brief period last year we had a 'bigger' cable package on the living room TV, they discovered Nat. Geo. and a bunch of other stations they liked, and became such TV addicts that I had to take the cable box back! PBS really does have some good shows. We have the bigger cable package on the TV in our room - but other than the major US networks we rarely watch anything other than BBC America!

Calif Lorna said...

I'm with Iota I'm afraid. Although I used to think SpongeBob was dire upon actually watching it, I found it very funny.

My boys have moved onto disaster programmes on Discovery. Anything in which a person almost dies but manages to survive and then tell their story.

SpongeBob would be far more preferable.

Belgravia wife - sort of said...

I have to agree a bit with all of you - what a diplomat ! My parents are really old - 80 + ( I am the youngest of five ) so when we were growing up the TV was a bit like washing machines and funny clever ovens - something that other people had we bought too but my Mum didn't really trust !

We have a section on Sky - Documentaries and my sons will watch anything to do with giant predators or insects, they are just getting into Roman & Egyptian gods - some lovely tales of gore in there. They are 8 & 6 though maybe a little older than your boys. In the UK Peppa Pig seems to be sweeping the board for little ones - my daughter loves it, there are some funny covert anecdotes for parents and the 'go with' toys aren't too chavvy.

If you are on the lookout for something for boys, if they are particularly dinosaur minded, there is a DVD called Prehistoric Park - a man called Nigel - uncle Nigel to us - goes back in time and rescues various dinosaurs. Mine watch it in the car and don't tire of it - it's actually really fun. For those of you not in Blightly you should get it on Amazon or I can get it out to you.

I don't think we need to worry though a good friend of mine was telling me recently that her four children, oldest 8, enjoy watching a programme about EasyJet / Liverpool Airport - by all accounts it gets quite tense when people miss their flights etc !! xx

PantsWithNames said...

I'm struggling with all the channels in the UK, the US ones must be frying your brain!

We only watched DVDs in Bosnia, it was that or Cartoon Network which is so awful that the one time the boys found it, they turned it off because it wasn't very good. However, they weren't showing star wars or Ben 10 at the time which might have changed their mind...

Yup, I'll do my best to restrict their knowledge of other TV channels too.

Tara@Sticky Fingers said...

Trouble is when they start going to friends for tea and watch whatever they have on around there.
My son came back from a friends having watched the horror that is WWF wrestling. Trust me, Spongebob is a joy in comparison!

nmaha said...

Hi, I just found your blog through a chain of blogs :-)...TV censorship is something I can totally understand. Yes, Spongebob is way to mature for pre-schoolers or rather any child below 6 years...CeeBeebies are a life saver, especially 'In the Night Garden', quite enjoy it myself......
Am new to the world of mummyhood and blogging, so please drop by and help me out....you can find me at http://morethanjustmummy.blogspot.com/ 

Kit said...

For years my kids thought that the only channel we had was Animal Planet. They did occasionally see cartoons on other people's televisions, but thought that our TV didn't have them... we didn't disillusion them.
Then we gave up satellite altogether and now it is just DVDs, which is great!
I agree about the horrors of wrestling - some kids at our school also watch it.

nappy valley girl said...

SaMama- I love the idea of How Clean is your House...

PM - You know why Dangermouse is OK, don't you. It's because he sounds quite posh....

Iota - know how you feel about cable, it almost isn't worth it. I know Spongebob isn't that bad - my 6 year old nephew adores it - but it's not quite as innocent as the Dora and Wonder Pets they are quite happy to watch at the moment....

Almost American - I do let them watch PBS kids sometimes. But it's only in the mornings, when they are at school - after lunch it turns to very worthy programmes about politics! It reminds me of old BBC2 stuff in the 70s.....sort of belongs to a more innocent age.

Calif Lorna - yes, I'm sure Spongebob is OK. I'd probably find it funny. But I have heard a lot of parents saying they've had to explain various things to their kids because they 'heard it on Spoongebob' - stuff that's probably a little too mature for a 5 year old.....

Belgravia Wife - we get Peppa Pig on Nick Jr! The boys love it, especially as it's about the only thing they watch with English accents now (even Bob the Builder is dubbed into American out here). The dinosaur show sounds good - the boys love dinos.....

PantswithNames - yes, not really a fan of Cartoon Network - that is one of the ones that is banned.....

Tara - Wrestling, that's awful! Although I can see that little boys would absolutely love it....yes, you definitley lose control as they get older, and I guess there's not much you can do. I'd still ban it at home though.

Nmaha - thanks for visiting, I'll be over to visit shortly. We loved In the Night Garden in the UK - it doesn't seem to have made it over here yet but we have loads of ITNG toys as my husband's cousin works on design for the show!

Kit - DVDs really do work better - also, the boys love them because they feel like they're something special. They're not into Animal Planet but it's a good idea, given their current fascination with caterpillars and the like....

Expat mum said...

With cable should come a means of searching for specific shows by name (at least ours does) so if you want the boys to watch old Scooby you could "tape it" (whatever it's called these days) so that they don't suss out the actual challenge.
And please don't be too disappointed when you get BBC American. It's about 80% crap, or rather, endless old Top Gears.

Expat mum said...

Challenge??? I meant "channel" of course.

Gone Back South said...

The Spongebob phenomenon is baffling, but of all the kids cartoons out there I find it by far the funniest and most watchable ... and yes, most of its humour goes WAY over the heads of my kids but they still seem to love it anyway! I guess they just love it for different reasons. Good luck with navigating those channels - I'm always lost with American TV.

Metropolitan Mum said...

I have never been a HUGE TV fan, I even lived without a TV for several years. Thus the TV remains switched off most of the time.
From time to time I put on 'In the Nightgarden' for little L, and it startled me the other day when she opened the drawer where we keep the remote control and started pointing on the telly. WHERE did she get that from? It's scary how addictive it seems to be.

nappy valley girl said...

Expat Mum - my new cable providers seem much better, so I'll give it a try. As for BBCAmerica, yeah I know it's mainly Top Gear, but at least we'll have Doctor Who and maybe even Skins. To add to the two or three American programmes I follow.

GBS - indeed, I find it very weird reading in the media section of the New York Times every week that Spongebob is the top-rating cable programme.....

MetMum - it does indeed start young. Littleboy 1 is into my computer now and seems to have learned how to navigate the internet overnight......

Mwa said...

I do the same - it just makes life that much easier. One channel is plenty.

Mwa said...

(Ours is CBeebies.)

Metropolitan Mum said...

PS: I have tagged you with a shoe award. I thought you might enjoy that. :)

Anonymous said...

Miriam Starobin, 12, saved her friend from choking - based on a technique she remembered from the cartoon, 'SpongeBob SquarePants.'

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/04/23/2010-04-23_li_girl_uses_lessons_from_spongebob_squarepants_to_save_choking_friend.html#ixzz0oSmDe0li


http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/04/23/2010-04-23_li_girl_uses_lessons_from_spongebob_squarepants_to_save_choking_friend.html