Dad Sense

Just Because It’s A Cartoon Doesn’t Mean It’s Child Friendly

I have a 3-year-old who likes to watch TV.

I have no problem allowing it after she spent the day doing puzzles, coloring and other activities that exercise her mind and body. She needs time to veg too.

I usually watch with her. We snuggle, hug and I ask her questions about what she’s seeing. Sort of adds an educational component to what would otherwise be a sedentary experience.

Do I watch with her ALL the time? No. There are occasions where I seize her TV time to get my own stuff done. I leave her alone in another room to enjoy a show on her own.

Such was the case the other night. After flipping through the channels… Disney, The Cartoon Network, PBS and Nickolodean, we settled on SpongeBob Squarepants on Nick. She recognized the distinctive yellow cartoon character. She’s seen SpongeBob on countless lunchboxes, T-shirts and tennis shoes. The show was okay with me, because after all how harmful can a “sea sponge who lives with his pet snail, Gary, in a fully furnished, two bedroom…pineapple” be?
I stepped out. And she was quiet.

For about five minutes.

Then, suddenly she SCREAMED at the top of her lungs. I couldn’t imagine what had happened.
She was crying. Uncontrollably.

“Toorn it off,” she yelled. “Toorn it off!” pointing to the TV. “I don’t like gorillas. Gorillas are scawey.”

I looked at the TV. And with my own eyes I saw a particularly scary looking gorilla jumping up and down and acting mean. This was not a commercial. It was the show. The supposed “harmless show. The gorilla was trampling another cartoon character.

I turned the TV off and for the next few minutes comforted and calmed my crying daughter.
Sure I can get mad at the producers of SpongeBob Squarepants. After all, it is that show that got my daughter so riled up. I could be upset with Nick.

But really the lesson here is one of parental responsibility. I really have no one to blame but myself. I should’ve not allowed Nick and SpongeBob to watch my daughter. I should’ve been there.

When it comes to fatherhood, the buck stops with us dads. We’re the parents. And clearly we should not, and cannot, really on any producer or network to do our job as father.

That’s message one. Message two: Not all cartoons, even the ones marketed to kids, are appropriate for young children to watch.

To this day my daughter is terribly frightened of gorillas. Not an entirely bad thing since gorillas are frightening. But I hope an upcoming visit to the zoo will put it all better into context.

Glenn Lawrence is editor of interactive DAD Magazine.
an online parenting magazine for fathers. With fresh articles on Family Finance, Saving Money and the interactive Ask the Expert segment, Interactive Dad covers the stories dads care about most. It’s free and updated daily. LawrenceDad SenseDad Sense Just Because It's A Cartoon Doesn't Mean It's Child Friendly By Glenn Lawrence I have a 3-year-old who likes to watch TV. I have no problem allowing...Parenting Advice| Family Fun Activities for Kids