I’ve been a mom for over six years now, and an aunt for about thirteen. In that time, I have been subjected to hours and hours and hours of Dora, Paw Patrol, Peppa Pig, Thomas the Tank Engine, Bluey, Story Bots and yes…even Caillou. Now that my daughter is two, I’ve been thinking about how all of these shows are going to make their way back into our living room, and I can’t say I want to hear “I’m the map” even one more time.
We can go through the “screen time is bad” battle again, but most of us can admit that Peppa has their kids learning about perseverance (and how to speak in a British accent), and Bluey helps to teach them about their feelings and considering other people. So, it’s not all bad. But, is there a way to help our children with those important lessons through the franchises we know and love?
As children growing up in the 80s and 90s, we weren’t as limited as kids are today. We watched movies that were way too mature for us, heard words we shouldn’t have known and saw violence and gore that we laughed at. Today, that is unheard of in the parenting world. So maybe Terminator is off the table, but there are still plenty of options to suit you and your kids, without traumatizing them in today’s world.
“Star Wars is a prime example here. This is a franchise that has grown with its audience.”
Star Wars is a prime example here. This is a franchise that has grown with its audience. Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope came out way back in 1977. My father introduced me to it young, and though I’ve done the same with my little ones, they still don’t quite get it. The dialogue goes over their head and Darth Vader is scary. The only thing keeping their attention are the action sequences.
The good news is that the Star Wars franchise has come a long way in the last 45 years. There are options to help introduce your children to the characters that you adore in a more family-friendly setting. The best of both worlds. From Star Wars: The Clone Wars, to a variety of LEGO Star Wars cartoons, there is sure to be a variation of the brand that your children will love, allowing for a bit of common ground in the family’s media intake.
I thought that bringing the Marvel Cinematic Universe into our household would be easy. They were already familiar with the characters from toys and TV, so when my then four-year-old saw X-Men on Disney+, I thought it would be a great start. He had plenty of heroes he was familiar with—he loves his dad’s Wolverine action figures—so I figured it would be an easy transition into live-action movies.
I could not have been more wrong. Yes, the action scenes kept his attention. Whenever the heroes would suit-up (or Wolverine was on screen), he was thrilled. It’s all the in-between parts that were the problem. He would fidget, ask for snacks, get distracted, and he would repeatedly ask me when the superheroes were coming. He didn’t understand that they were still the same characters out of costume. Turns out kids don’t really care about the story, they just want to see their favourite heroes do great things.
Luckily, Star Wars isn’t the only franchise that has saturated every media market possible. Comics, movies, toys, cartoons…there is no limit to Marvel’s reach. So, no matter how old my children are, there is something in the franchise that will speak to them. Our childhood has come full circle, and we can watch it grow with the next generation, even more so than it did with ours.
I never thought I’d be a parent wanting to push my media interests onto my kids, but round two of children’s programming has made me desperate. The entertainment industry has done wonders by making shows and toys for kids with the characters and franchises we love. Shows like Marvel Superhero Adventures and Star Wars Rebels are all over streaming sites. And if those aren’t your thing, the LEGO universe has just about everything else covered. There are cool shows out there for kids. Don’t give up on Saturday morning cartoons just yet.