Between cable, Netflix, Hulu, and the internet, there is no shortage of television shows our kiddos can watch. It seems like a new shows comes out every single week! Every parent has their own standards for what they will allow their kids to watch, but generally speaking, when it's a show geared toward kids, we tend to think it's kid-friendly, right? But kid-friendly doesn't necessarily mean it's good for your kids. Sure, there might not be any violence or foul language and the themes may be easy for the less-mature audience to understand. But that, by no means, makes it a good show for your little ones to watch. So how can we tell if is show is good for kids? What are some of the criteria we should check for before we let our kiddos watch a show? We have some guidelines for you that might be helpful.
Jill Murphy, vice president and editor-in-chief of Common Sense Media, helps parents figure out whether or not a show is good for your kid. There are five questions you should be asking yourself about a show, before you decide if it's OK for your child to watch, and if watching it will be beneficial to them in some way.
First, while the show in question is probably kid-friendly, ask yourself if it's appropriate for your child. Some kids are fine with animated and cartoonish violence, but others might not be. Check the ratings for the show on the Common Sense Media site, where you'll find information about the content. You know your child best, so you should be the final judge on whether or not they'll be able to handle something.
Next, ask yourself if the show is engaging, and determine if your child will gain something from watching it. Kids can sit and zone out to pretty much any show, but we want them to get something out of it, right? Shows like Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood teach some pretty important life lessons, and allow kids to apply those lessons in their real lives.
Does the show represent the world you live in? Is it diverse and does it promote representation? Does the show feature characters of color or other religions, and is it accepting of all different people? Those are some pretty important lessons for kids to learn at a young age, and finding the right show can help.
Ask yourself this: would YOU want to want the show? Bottom line is, it has to be entertaining, even if it is a kid's show! And you should be watching with your kids, so you can talk about some of the themes in the show and how they apply to your lives. If you aren't watching with your kids on occasion, you aren't able to communicate with them about what they're watching.
Finally, are there any red flags in the show, aside from the obvious violence or foul language? Parents can get really frustrated when a character on their kid's favorite show exhibits behavior they don't want to see in their own kids (looking at you, Caillou). Sass or back-talk, materialism, disrespect for adults or peers, and bullying behaviors are all things you should be watching for in a kid's show. That doesn't mean you have to limit their viewing to shows that only feature perfectly-behaved angels! Kids will relate to authentic characters more, but be mindful of how the behavior is framed within the context of the show.