When I was a girl, I watched a LOT of television. I would say that it was a bad thing, but I still managed to graduate near the top of my class, read a ton of books, go to youth group, have friends, and even do my chores. I wasn’t an athlete, but I don’t think that had so much to do with my TV watching as my general clumsiness, not to mention my mom’s misguided belief that only boys and tomboys should play sports. In any case, I remember watching primetime dramas like “Moonlighting,” “L.A. Law” and “St. Elsewhere” as a kid (and can even hum the theme songs to prove it).
Looking up the years those shows were on the air, I was 9, 10, and 6, respectively. That doesn’t mean I was SIX when I started watching them, but I was definitely in elementary school. Flash forward to my life a mother and entertainment writer, and I realize that I’m a huge hypocrite. My 11-year-old son barely watches any scripted television that’s not on one of the “kid” channels like Nickelodeon or Disney. And even those he’s not a big fan of, so he tends to stream “Mythbusters,” “How It’s Made,” and a bunch of Discovery and PBS documentaries on Netflix or Hulu. My daughter, who’s 8, claims her friends watch “Glee” and “Modern Family,” but I’ve yet to let her watch more than the occasional YouTube clip of a dance from “Dancing with the Stars” or a “Glee” mashup. OK, and occasionally we watch “Say Yes to the Dress” if it’s On Demand.
Part of the issue is that families no longer watch television together the way they used to, particularly live. Probably the only show I watch live these days is “Game of Thrones” which is an ADULT show. My husband and I watch it together every Sunday night. Otherwise, we wait until something’s on the DVR. You would think that would make it *easier* to let my kids, especially my oldest (the youngest is five and has no business watching anything but children’s programming, in my opinion) watch a “real” show, but he hasn’t asked, and I haven’t offered.
So my question to those of you with teens and tweens is, what do you watch with your children? Is it all reality shows? Do you watch any sitcoms or (eek!) dramas together? I’d really love to know, because on the one hand I think it would be fun to have my soon-to-be middle schooler “graduate” from kid shows and nature documentaries, but on the other hand, I figure he isn’t really missing out!
The Editor of The DC Moms, Sandie blogs about Young Adult literature at Teen Lit Rocks and reviews movies and books at Common Sense Media.