*Warning* This post may turn out to be a bit ranty . . .
Ben didn’t really start to watch TV until he was about two – he had never shown any interest. Luckily for me just as I went on maternity leave and was exhausted he discovered the joy of Postman Pat. He would watch the same few episodes over and over again (and I can’t say I didn’t fall asleep once or twice while he was watching it!) Postman Pat saved my bacon when it came to keeping him entertained while I was feeding a newborn Chloe or was just too tired to speak – we’ve all been there! For quite a while it was only Postman Pat that would hold his attention but he did branch out after a while. Chloe is considerably more of a telly addict but I suppose she has been exposed to it much more – she loves Postman Pat and asks for “Pat” but her firm favourite is Peter Rabbit (she has recently graduated from calling him “Pete” to “Pete Rabbit”). She likes to tell me what’s happening eg “Lily burp” or “Tod, Tod!” when Mr Tod is trying to catch Peter and his friends.
Although it didn’t start out that way, it has become a concious decision in our house that Ben and Chloe only watch Cbeebies. There’s a number of reasons for this:
1. There’s No Adverts! When I first started to put the tv on for Ben, I put Cbeebies on automatically as I suppose it was the only channel I was really aware of that I knew was appropriate for his age. As I started to explore more I suddenly noticed the adverts that littered every other channel – adverts for toys, for rubbish food, for other naff programmes. I didn’t want him exposed to that and decided to avoid it as much as possible. Of course I know they watch other channels when they are with other people but at least I minimise the impact of it this way.
2. Age Appropriate Programming – I know that if I put Cbeebies on, the programmes are going to be entirely suitable for both children to watch. They’re not going to come across things they shouldn’t be watching and the programmes have been scheduled with under 5s in mind. I worry with other more cartoon based channels that there will be more violence, poor behaviour or inappropriate language (by which I don’t mean swearing just word choices I wouldn’t want Ben and Chloe to be uttering at their age). Ben is really getting into his superheroes at the moment and I’m sure he would love to watch Batman and so forth but right now I think they are just too grown up for him.
3. Educational – For the most part I would say that just about everything we watch on Cbeebies has some sort of educational undercurrent – be it the obvious Maths learning in Numberjacks, the sharing of experiences in Dr Ranj or the more social themes in Postman Pat or Mike the Knight – you can see a point to watching them. If they are going to be glued to a screen I’d like to think there was going to be some benefit from it! We have often referred back to an episode of Dr Ranj for example when it was time for them both to have immunisations or when we’re trying to get Ben out of his typical little boy habit of picking his nose!
So you can see that I’m generally a big fan of Cbeebies but if there’s one programme that really does wind me up it’s Woolly and Tig – please tell me I’m not the only one who thinks that little girl is a badly behaved spoilt little brat?! Oh and I’m not keen on Postman Pat SDS – all the voices are wrong and I don’t like the extra tech, I much prefer the slightly older ones (we have even been known to watch some proper vintage Postman Pat on youtube – from the days of Granny Dryden!)
I realise I’ve now turned into my Mum – do you remember the programme Your Mother Wouldn’t Like It? Well she didn’t, we only got away with watching it with Dad! More significantly though I learned as an adult that we hadn’t been allowed to watch Grange Hill as children as Mum and Dad didn’t like the way the characters behaved and didn’t want us to think it was acceptable.
Do you have programmes you won’t let your children watch? I’d love to know what you think!