As much as I hate to admit it we are a bit of a TV household. I fought it for a while and periodically instigate the no TV rule for a few days but generally the kids watch some everyday (more than the 30min max that is recommended by many). Our general pattern of kids TV viewing goes like this, a little in the morning for Miss Four who gets up earlier than everyone except Mr Good who is generally long gone before the rest of us crack open our sleep crusted eyelids. She watches it on the iPad, using the ABC iview app or sometimes old episodes of Superted, Mickie Mouse or Bugs Bunny on youtube. Then we have breakfast and while I’m still struggling to wake up and make myself presentable via a hot shower, the two girls watch a little more, usually on ABC2. The rest of the morning is taken up with activities, shopping or kinder. Then there is a little more TV after lunch (sometimes a Tinkerbell movie or Tom and Jerry cartoons – I blame Mr Good for that current addiction), then more activities until I get dinner ready when they either play in the family room near the kitchen or watch an episode of Mr Maker or the like. It’s not like this everyday, sometimes the TV doesn’t get switched on at all, but in general it’s more than I would like, around the 2 hour mark on average. I’ve learned to live with it though, because it helps me get through the day and gives them some down time, especially required for Miss Two who has long refused a sleep.
I like that I can control easily what they watch, and that they NEVER see ads – we only watch ABC or stuff from iview etc. That has been fantastic for minimizing the nag factor, they just don’t know what’s out there to nag or beg for. I also think some of the shows they watch have been fantastic for them, Mr Maker always gets the crafty minds working (actually that’s not so fantastic, we are in serious need of some doodle draws to keep up!), Playschool is just great and always has been, and Ben and Holly’s Little Kingdom has sparked their fairy-centric imaginations like nothing else. But even controlling what they watch, there have been a few unfortunate habits, sayings or attitudes picked up along the way, often coming from Peppa Pig (but she is by no mean alone on this front).
For whatever reason they both love this show, Miss Two in particular and as a rule she’s not that into TV. The things that have been picked up by the two of them thanks to Peppa Pig include:
1. Jumping in muddy puddles – great on occasion, not so good at my sister’s wedding! And it goes further, whenever they see a puddle, they start screaming about it and want to stop and jump in it, whether we’re walking, driving, on the train, anywhere. I know I’m not alone on that one, I’ve seen it countless times with other children (always smiling to myself that it’s someone else dealing with soaking shoes, socks and pants at a less than convenient time). But then I think hey, wouldn’t it be great to get that excited by a puddle. And we have the perfect spot in our back yard, so if it ever rains again, the boots will come on and they will have fun with it….. so I guess that’s not all that bad after all.
2. Stabilizers…. what the heck I hear you say? This is what Miss Four calls training wheels. No matter how often I tell her we don’t call them that in Australia, she insists. People look at us very strangely.
3. “Silly Daddy”…. “Silly Mummy” – yes thanks for that one Peppa. In fairness she also says “Silly me” and it’s never done out of meanness, just when we forget something.
4. She draws Mr Good in a very similar way to the shape of Daddy Pig and talks regularly about his big tummy. It’s true Mr Good is a bit on the bigger side as opposed to myself and the girls who are a bit ridiculously skinny. It’s also true that Mr Good finds this habit quite funny, he’s fine with his body shape so it doesn’t bother him. I would hope she never does it to others though….. must have a conversation about that.
I’m sure there is more, but you get the idea……
There is quite a movement against Peppa Pig in some circles, see here for example, but if I’m being honest I think these little annoying habits are no big deal. I quite like the show compared to some others – The Hive for example is just horrible and what’s with the insect characters having floating unattached hands and feet and no arms or legs at all?. It’s true that Peppa could use a few more pleases and thank yous and be a little less abrupt, but what five year old doesn’t? I think in among the many episodes watched in this house several have dealt with friendship issues and playground battles (one about waiting for your turn to use the slide was perfectly timed for Miss Two) in ways I think highly appropriate. The trips to the seaside, library, Italy, on a picnic, to sleep overs etc etc have sparked the curiosity in my kids to find out more. The snippets of adult humour make it bearable for me to watch (sometimes). I love that Peppa and George love learning things from and spending time with their Grandparents. I also think it’s great that she is a strong, confident female character who isn’t into fairies, pink, princesses and what she looks like or not excessively anyway. God forbid they do a makeover – Dora style – on this character!
As Jerry Seinfeld recently pointed out about this current batch of parents – myself included – “we’re just too into it.” I think it’s quite ridiculous to think a cartoon of a precocious pig could turn a whole generation of kids into rude, naughty brats. This is not some new phenomenon when it comes to cartoon characters – think of Garfield, the Jetsons, the Flintstones and even the Smurfs had characters behaving in a way you wouldn’t necessarily want your kids to behave. So I say let’s just try not to read too much into all of this and be thankful for the five minutes of peace to tear through the shower or go to the toilet alone (!) or get the veggies cut up for dinner – hoping they don’t say “Yuck” to all of them George Pig style.
What’s your opinion on this little piggy character or others with influence in your house? Are you tv lovers or loathers or somewhere in between? And what are you’re tips for limiting viewing but still finding ways to engage them so you can get something done?
Jess is writing on the same topic, will be interesting to see her take on it all.