Suspended Animation

We have never been fans of idiot box, but have always allowed the kids to dumb down with the help of idiot box in moderation.  We always thought we were making a compromise but thought it was OK to let them have a little dose of aimless animation till one day I heard some of the kids talking in the park, our younger one was part of the group.

Suspended Animation

While doing their acrobatics on the slides, the kids were also playing a popular animation series on the idiot box.

Some of the words that I was surprised to hear from kids were:

  • Chaparghanchu  (not sure what it means)
  • Dayan  (Witch)
  • Chudail  (Witch)
  • Bhootia Mahal (Haunted House)

To be honest we have always thought that cartoons are OK for the kids and have negotiated a quota for each one of the kids to watch cartoons, but now I was worried. Not that these words are new to me, but to listen them in regular conversation of 3-5 year old’s was something new to me. While the kids were discussing, one 3-year-old boy jumped and punched a 2-year-old in the stomach in WWE style. Fortunately the parents of both kids are mature individuals and they separated the kids and took them home. I don’t blame the little boy for he was just practicing what he saw on one of the popular cartoon serial.

But I was wondering what the kids are learning from the TV. We always felt that the cartoons meant for the kids are OK and they can watch them without any issues. But when I hear the words being used on some of these animation series made in India as well as imported from all parts of the world, I wonder if this is the right TV program for them.

I spent a couple of hours watching animation with my kids to see what all is happening in the animation universe. The English words were also not very flattering like Bozo, Moron, Sissy; you stupid and idiot are almost in every conversation.

But equally worrying is the violence the series portray and physical beating of a character is considered to be normal and even entertaining in serials like Chotta Bheem, Tom and Jerry, and Ninja Hattori etc.  Superstition and ghostly objects keep on making appearance at regular interval and nobody blinks and eyelid on them.

Then in the end there will be a small sermon which will tell one of the naughty kids in the cartoon what he did wrong and he should not do (in some cases not always). No wonder kids in the garden or in the birthday party we encounter are so violent and aggressive. As the very source that we feel is safe for them to watch is actually influencing them in a very negative manner. My worry is more because these cartoon characters are the heroes the toddlers idolize, they innocently follow the actions and language of them.

While I don’t want to be a TV Nazi and ban the same completely for kids like one of my friends in Bombay has done for last two years, I am still wondering what the right entertainment for the kids is where they will not be exposed to violence and words that are not right to use at any age leave aside such a young age. Giving them iPad, laptop continuously is not the solution as internet has its own dangers lurking from every corner.

What is your experience of the so-called kid’s entertainment on the idiot box? We would love to know some programs that do not have explicit violence and foul language that the kids can watch both in English and Hindi or your respective mother tongue.

Sasha and Prasad Np are proud parents of 2 girls whom they fondly call Princess (11 yrs in Feb 13) and Pinkette (4 yrs next month). He wears many hats after taking a break from being corner office critter for a long time. He is now entrepreneur, blogger, photographer, traveler and an investor in startups with unique concepts. He blogs at Desi Traveler, and can be reached at Facebook and Twitter.

  • mim

    exactly why we dont own a tv.

    my motherly effort to protect my sons from bheem and self from cricket-mad spouse.

    sadly, even library visits have to be monitored — c.bheem lurks with poor grammar and related silliness

  • Hi MIM…. We don’t want to go to the extreme step of no TV in home but are not happy with the programs that are peddled as child entertainment.
    Thanks

  • Chota Bheem is certainly not a ‘children’s program’! All the Dishyum Dishyum they show! There is this channel called Baby TV that comes through DISH TV. It has nice informative and constructive programs, like games teaching colors, numbers, rhymes, and so on. It is a good respite from the usual cartoon channels. My kid loves it. However the catch is, too much of anything is bad. So while I don’t mind my kid watching it, I still have to restrict the amount of time he watches it… he likes it so much that if I don’t tell him that the babies have gone to sleep, he would keep watching it forever. Such an addiction is also bad!

    • I would recommend babyTV as well. My boy loves it. And most of the shows are educating. But I feel it’s only for toddlers. Kids would outgrow them once they are 4-5.

      • Thanks Priyanka… . will check it out… We found some DVDs are also really good.

  • Hi Yamini…. thanks for sharing this… will sure check it out.

    thanks.

  • We are also TV nazis 🙂 Well, I distanced myself from TV because I felt it was not productive. My husband would switch on the TV on the weekends though. But with ‘the star’, I’m cautious. I never succumbed to putting him in front of TV to feed or finish some work, it falls flat on you only later. I am still trying to figure out what to let him watch. Kids are attracted to cartoons but I know all cartoons are not worth watching. In the name of learning with fun, kids get trapped in a vicious circle, then you end up buying the whole merchandize, then the theme parties. We must scrutinize first the videos our kids watch or the books they read, and then pass it on to them. They are not always so great!

  • Hi Reema… you bring another pain point to discussion the various merchandise that one is expected to buy after watching the cartoons….

    Thanks

  • I don’t think you should worry too much about the influence of TV, as long as your child is not insisting on watching TV for hours together, to the exclusion of everything else. We also grew up watching relatively violent cartoons – Tom and Jerry, Popeye, etc. So nothing has changed in that respect.

    And whose to say that other forms of entertainment are more wholesome? iPad games – definitely not! Even reading comes with its own problems – or fairy tales are filled with evil witches and stepmothhers, passive heroines and outdated values that we may not want to pass on to our kids. And as one child psychologist pointed out to me, some of our nursery rhymes are unbelievably violent – heads breaking, people being beaten up and others losing limbs. And of course, the engine driver who does not care that he knocked down Piggy!

    My point is that all these are aspects of growing up – they always have been. Perhaps attaching undue importance to them actually worsens the situation. Keep a check to see that children are not watching anything too inappropriate and correct them from time to time, but the ‘dayans’ and ‘stupids’ they will outgrow, or at least, substitute with something worse!

    Kritika Srinivasan
    http://www.parentedge.in

    • Hi Kritika…. Well you have a point, they will out grow all these, our elder one is already more interested in some thing called Geronimo and reads 3-4 books from her/him in a week ( I have not read any of those books so far)
      The bigger challenge that I face is not the learning of these violent traits but not knowing the difference between reality and animation and where to stop. That is where I think our role as parents come.
      Thanks

  • Amrita Thavrani

    I am finding the solutions to the question you raised in your post. I used to vouch for Ceebebies and its not longer there. Rest all shows have own issues. Probably allowing them in moderation and encouraging them in picking up more of sports/reading/music is the only way to strike balance.

    • Hi Amrita… Yes, moderation is the key, we are also trying some of the DVDs, available in market that encourage learning. We are also encouraging them to read more, hopefully that should help. Thanks for your inputs.