TV and the toddler

This one’s ramshackle, off the top of my head.

We don’t have a television in the conventional sense. That is a common practice these days, so on its own this fact is unremarkable.

I should specify this better: we don’t have cable (so no 30+ channels of advertising and reruns), the antenna’s busted (so no two fuzzy local over-the-air channels, also full of ads), no PVR or TiVo (so no ad-zapping with which to contend), and that’s that. We have lots of internet – torrents, youtube, vimeo, Amazon – and it does the trick. I can proudly declare that my daughter will never be subjected to the barrage of television advertising to which the wife and I were subjected as kids in the 70s/80s. Knowing full well the literature linking exposure to TV ads with obesity and with depression, anxiety and other disorders (I teach about advertising), this is all good. So we watch TV. We choose what we watch (the daughter has her own mind about what she wants to see), when we watch (we limit ourselves to 1.5-2 hours per day), and we talk about everything we see together. We have been doing this since she turned 2, I think.

{yes, Youtube has advertising, yes, the web is full of sites clamouring for our money, and sometimes they do get it, and yes, we have encountered advergaming to a limited extent – webkinz,, etc., but nothing that pulls out the big guns and immerses us totally – neither the wife nor I are much of gamers to start with, so I doubt we’ll pass any sort of bug like that on to the girl}

The point I was trying to get to is that her viewing tastes are diversifying rapidly. When she was two it was always about cats. Or trains. Or bugs. Or cars. Then narrative films about cats, trains, bugs, or cars. Then came nature videos, bee-keeping videos, then how-to videos (her current fave is a video about installing laminate flooring – it took a while for that one to take precedence over the cheese-making vids). I suppose we’ll attend Maker Faire when it’s on. Again, this is going astray…

Her current favourite show is The Golden Girls, which she refers to as “The Funny Babas”. We bought the complete series. I’m sure she doesn’t really know what’s going on half the time, but there’s sufficient comedic expression to keep her interest.

The best bit – one night last week she asked, referring to Dorothy Zbornak, “Why does that Baba talk like a daddy?”

Truly, Golden Girls and Maude are far better sans ads. Having “bought the company” to an extent (the box set was over $100), I hope the business model works out.

See Dorothy trounce (and get trounced by) idiots in her Jeopardy-dream:

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