As truly archaic as the phrase may sound, “children’s programmes aren’t what they used to be anymore”. Whether it be CBBC or CITV, Milkshake or Cbeebies, the children’s mainstream channels appear to be largely ‘dumbing down’ with the rest of the terrestrial offerings to date.
Being mum to two boys (aged 8 and 5), I am very regularly nagged to within an inch of a chocolate spread sandwich for the delights of ‘Horrid Henry’, ‘Tracy Beaker’ ‘Winging It’ and ‘The Revolting World of Stanley Brown’. All mentioned programmes are packed with hideous connotations on the subjects of bodily functions, bathroom humour, bad attitude, hating ones’ parents, displaying as much heavy duty naughtiness as possible and even occasionally sexual innuendo. Swear-words widely recognised in the presence of western English-speaking vernacular are thinly modified to provide a laugh for supposedly devilish youngsters who revel in this kind of nonsense. Despite our household generally following the ‘2 hour of screen time a day only ‘ rule, the insidious effects of these wretched programmes still seem to permeate my childrens’ consciousness far more than the comparative delights of Blue Peter or Alphablocks. It often leaves the frequently frazzled parents feeling they’re chasing their tails with the effort of raising well-mannered children on a decent moral foundation in life.
Observing the apparent onset of such influences, it would appear the age 7-11 age target are by far the worse. Even Bafta winning programmes of educational value such as ‘Horrible Histories’ often strays into the lavatorial arena of entertainment. Apparently this is what boys and even girls of such an age group ask for…?
Conversely, when watching CBeebies of a morning, one can actually pick out large elements of fundamental worth.. ‘Show Me Show Me’ heralds a kind of upmarket ‘Playschool’ for the modern child; introducing counting techniques, nursery rhymes, role play ideas and stories for the pre-schooler and reception level. Delightfully, for this target audience there isn’t a ‘bottom’, ‘stink’ or ‘burp’ in sight.. although the audience themselves may disagree..!
In hindsight, children’s programmes of latter ages were far more innocent and less directly influential. They were seemingly designed to entertain rather than affect. The Basil Brushes, Sooties, Rainbows, Batfinks, Mr Bens, Take Harts and Morphs of this world would never have instigated any kind of negative playground influence as a backdrop to a child’s life. Even Captain Pugwash didn’t seem to realise what his own innuendo meant!
But of course, within the largely heard rumblings of discontented parents today, the pressing question is with programme writing of such dire calibre, where exactly DO we go from here and more to the point, how can we regulate this widely televised influence when it is so dangerously insidious and hideously ubiquitous..?
©Tess Egerton 2013