I have a confession: I allow Mia (2 years, 11 months old) to watch television. A lot.
Despite that bit of "bad" mothering, I think I am a bloody good parent. Mia is bright, clever, smart, curious, absolutely not-shy, loves going to the park, loves meeting new people, loves asking them 20 questions even more, knows her mind a little too well and is very, very observant. Of course, all of that might have nothing to do with me (or Partner) and might simply be her personality. (I am quite possibly one of those painful mothers who think their kid's a genius.)
Kung Fu Panda, Bananas in Pyjamas, Merida (from Brave; I love her), Fireman Sam, Timmy (from Timmy Time), Shrek and Angelina Ballerina (I don't much like). So far, despite all her tv watching, Mia seems to be a perfectly normal, happy child.
According to this story in The Telegraph, Peppa Pig is making kids naughty or rather, parents are complaining about the cartoon piglet because their kids are copying her. For those who might not know, Peppa Pig is a hugely popular, very cute British cartoon series. The central character is 5-year-old Peppa Pig who lives with Mummy Pig, Daddy Pig and her 2-year-old little brother, George Pig.
Do I think it's a good show for children? It's a great show for 2+ kids. Does it or can it be a bad influence on kids? Absolutely. Much like Tom & Jerry teaches kids to hit each other with mallets (violence), Bananas in Pyjamas teaches kids to eat a lot of jelly (full of sugar), Angelina Ballerina promotes gender stereotypes (girls love ballet and pink tutus; they do by the way, mostly), ditto with Peter Pan (every female character is either motherly or flirtatious and ALL of them are prone to jealousy) and let's not even get into what psychological damage Bart Simpson is causing our children.
So what are the bad things Peppa Pigs is making our kids do? Some parents have complained their kids are jumping in muddy puddles (Peppa's favourite activity). Mia has also developed a fondness for muddy puddles. However she also understands her favourite shoes/feet/outfit will get dirty and that she needs to wear gum boots before jumping in muddy puddles.
Apparently some other kids have been demanding chocolate cake for breakfast (like George Pig) and are saying "yuck" to green vegetables (George again). Mia LOVES chocolate cake and would be absolutely thrilled with some for breakfast. She has asked too. But she does not get it. Coco Pops on rare occasions, but it's rice-bubbles-with-peaches or Weetbix-with-bananas for breakfast. The first time she threw a hissy fit about the cake, she was allowed to yell for as long as she wanted to. Without breakfast. Till she ate her breakfast. .
I will point out here that mine is a very sugar-friendly house. Along with stickers, shiny crayons, glitter glue, special scissors, face masks, colouring pages and such, Mia gets chocolate frogs as rewards, M & M sprinkled over vanilla ice-cream as an after-dinner "prise" (surprise), a lollipop if she behaves herself on a 6-hour-shopping trip, special cupcakes if she helps pick up her toys (for three days or more)... She absolutely, assuredly never gets anything -- not even a sugar cube -- if she yells or throws a tantrum, which are frequent. (Geniuses have genius-sized tantrums) Will she have rotten teeth? Hope not, we do brush regularly. Will she always expect sweets as rewards? Possibly. Better than a cash prize.
She does not, however, gorge herself on sweets and shows amazing restraint for her age. There are times she returns M & Ms and half-eaten chocolate frogs. "Don't want them now Mamma," she says. She even refuses cake and most often does not eat the icing on the cupcakes. How many adults do you know who do that? Perhaps she doesn't go stupid stuffing her face because it's her temperament. Or maybe because I am a genius mother who has given her so much sugar that even chocolate bores her now.
I am very glad there's a channel for kids (in Australia) without advertisements. I am glad Mia is learning interesting and diverse things some of which I might not be interested in. I read to her about fairies and unicorns but she is learning a lot about giant spider crabs and tiny sharks from watching Octonauts. She understands "inner peace" (thank you Kung Fu Panda 2), even if she thinks it means standing quietly in a corner so you can throw "giant fire crackers at bad peacock." I appreciate her trying porridge because B1 and B2 eat it. Or making drawings for me because Timmy makes them for his mamma. I particularly love that she is developing a sense of adventure even if it means jumping in muddy puddles. Something most kids love and something most parents seem to have forgotten.
As far as television is concerned, parents have immense choice in what we want our kids to see, how much, when, in what manner. It is also completely up to us to choose what the kids are picking up off the tele. And if you don't like it, turn the damn thing off.
PS: Leave Peppa Pig alone. Oh and by the way, Mia's favouritest vegetable is broccoli. Yuck.