I am feeling so frustrated right now. I walked into the loungeroom to discover my kids watching Playhouse Disney. "OK," I thought, "that’s not so bad."
Then I noticed that they were watching some cutesy kids show featuring one human host and a bunch of cute fuzzy puppets. Again, not so bad. It’s called Johnny And The Sprites.
Then I noticed the content of the show. Johnny (the human) was playing video games while everyone else tried to get his attention and draw him away. Now, if the creators of the show intended to convey the message that doing one thing to the exclusion of everything else including social interation and physical exercise as not good, that’s one thing.
However, that’s not the message that came across. No, the message that was being broadcast was that video games are bad, a waste of time and will make you lose touch with reality. They equated playing video games to watching plants grow. They portrayed video game players as being antisocial and completely non-physical. And they very clearly demonstrated that it was so much better (sarcasm italics) to be outside exercising than it was to be inside playing video games.
This kind of thinking was all the rage ten years ago, but to find it in a current kids show is mind-boggling for me and it demoralises me to think that major television studios still believe that video games are wrong.
I’m not advocating video games to the exclusion of everything else, but today’s reports show that video games can be very helpful for some children in the area of social interactiona and responsibility. They can promote cooperation and conversation and that’s on top of all the thinking and learning skills that can be honed through their use. Some kids simply aren’t physical.
Twenty years ago, they were the dweebs and nerds that got picked on at school by the bigger and stronger kids. In today’s world, the intellectual ones do just as well as the physically fit ones – and sometimes better. I’d love my son to be a great athlete, but he’s not. However, he’s a great mathemetician and loves video games – he’s GOOD at video games – particularly puzzling stuff out. They’ve provided him a wealth of knowledge that he wouldn’t have received playing cricket out the back of the house every minute of every day.
However, to be fair, I should also say that I’d love my daughter to be a girl-geek gamer, but she’s not. However, she’s a great gymnast and loves reading, particularly books about puppies, cats and horses. Her body is healthy and strong and while we can easily see that she’s as bright as my son, she sometimes struggles with intellectual things – even things she loves like reading – that being a little more into geek/tech might have helped her with.
For the world to succeed, we need all kinds of people, and we need to be accepting of all those that are different from ourselves, not try to make them conform to what WE believe everyone should be like.
What we don’t need is to have TV shows reinforce outdated beliefs that dictate that one set of behaviours is wrong. Shame on Disney.
To be completely open – I am cranky this morning because I was woken to a darkened house again. We obviously haven’t found the root cause of our power outages yet – have narrowed it down to one of three things – my daughter’s lava lamp, my bar fridge in the gaming room, or the powerpoint that my main computer is plugged into (which sparked when I plugged it back in). Waking up to a dark alarm clock on April Fool’s Day is just "one of those things" that puts you slightly off beam.