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Fairly Odd Mother

Frantically waving my magic wand to make wishes come true.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Sprouting Off

Have you watched, or let your kids watch, PBS Sprout, the "24-hour channel for preschoolers and families"? We have, and the 24-hour part of it has always bothered me a bit. Do preschoolers need a 24-hour channel? Are 3-year-olds often up at 1am, watching TV? (I am a little scared to know the answer).

Now, I am one of those parents who let's her kids watch channels like this with minimal supervision. I look at "TV Time" as the time I get things done around the house---laundry, dinner, cleaning---so, yes, TV is absolutely, positively a babysitter. The good news is that I am strict about the channels they watch and how much screen time is allowed each day.

Now, though, I'm a bit disturbed about a channel on our "safe" list. While walking through the family room the other day, I heard a commercial airing on Sprout. "Hmmmmm", I thought, "I didn't think Sprout accepted commercials".

The next thing I noticed stopped me in my tracks. The commercial was an ad for New Orleans. New Orleans? For preschoolers?

I worked in advertising for many years, so I know that, in cable, advertisers often buy a demographic group versus specific programs or channels. So, let's say this advertiser wanted to reach Women 25-44; Sprout may rank very high since many women say they watch the channel, even if they really mean that their kids are parked in front of it.

But, still, shouldn't Sprout have some sort of system that insures that the messages they run are appropriate for a 3 year old? (and, let's be clear: I'm sure there are loads of fun things for families to do in New Orleans, but this was NOT a "family" ad, per se).

Today, I happened to see a commercial for 800-Creditcarddebt. Yes, my kids are so happy to know that if mommy and daddy run up their credit cards to the point of near bankruptcy, there is a company that will help to straighten it out. Never mind that I now need to explain what bankruptcy is.

Thanks Sprout! Although you are one of my kids' favorites, I think we'll now stick with videos.



Blogger sandy shoes said...

Yeah, TV sucks (24 hour TV for preschoolers? How creepy.). But I definitely use the screen as a sitter while I'm making dinner.

Try the old Muppet shows from the 70s (I started to type "when we were kids," but I don't want to assume the wrong thing). You can get 'em on Netflix. Funny stuff!

8:58 PM  
Anonymous my minivan is faster than yours said...

That is the strangest thing! I hadn't heard of it before. We use the DVR to tape shows, sans the commercials. However, if I don't start branching out soom my kids may be watching Barney into the tween years :)

12:09 AM  
Blogger Whirlwind said...

Yeah my kids have been fans of Cartoon Network this summer. But then Meenie kept telling me "American babies die before their first birthdays". Whaaaaaaaaaaat? She said she saw it on TV. Then I started noticing other adult commercials (thankfully none of the drug type).

6:19 AM  
Blogger Beck said...

Huh. Canadian television is very, very different. The Canadian preschooler's channel - Treehouse - is LITERALLY advertisement free, so I'm comfortable with it. No public service announcements, nothing.But advertising during children's programs is farily strictly regulated.

7:42 AM  
Blogger jenny said...

A few days ago I watching a baseball game with my ten year old boy and an ad for that KY Warming stuff comes on. I know the demographic is men, men and men but I wanted to crawl under the couch. Never mind all of the ads for Cialis. Oye.

7:44 AM  
Anonymous pinks & Blues Girls said...

That is insane! Yeah, 3-year-olds are definitely the target audience for New Orleans. Marti Gras time, kids!!

What's next, Girls Gone Wild commercials? Those are my favorite to watch when I'm suffering from insomnia at 3 am. Whenever I see those, I think about how proud those girls' parents must be.

Jane, Pinks & Blues Girls

9:10 AM  
Blogger toyfoto said...

i was kind of suprised by commercials on public television. the don't interrupt the shows and they're designed differently than commercial televsion ... for instance you don't usually see McDonald's products, but you will see Ronald riding bikes with kids ... but they're still disconcerting.

I also have to admit that some of my kid's favorite shows freak me out. Elmo may be sweet, but his voice makes me want to climb the walls ... and i'm fairly certain Calliou taght her how to whine in normal conversation. Ugh.

1:02 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Chicky said...

Really? That's so odd.

Unfortunately, my kid does watch some commercial television. Mama likes her Today Show and maybe some Ellen or Regis and Kelly. I can't help it. I'm addicted.

5:47 PM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

I sent this directly to Mrs. Chicky but also thought you all should know the dirty truth about me:

Ohmygosh, when my oldest daughter (who is now 6) was Chicky's age, I watched Dr. Phil, the morning news, and even MTV with her in the room! It's a wonder she isn't a screwed up stripper on a shooting spree (although time will tell, I suppose).

I'm not really anti-commercials (heck, I was in advertising!), it was the context (kids programming) and the ads (adult messages) that bothered me.

7:38 PM  
Blogger Alex Elliot said...

I just hear about Sprout recently. We Tivo everything. However, my kids watch TV while I'm making dinner. I never watch the shows with them. I can hear it playing in the background if I pay attention, but honestly I have no interest in watching it. My kids have seen Seinfield. They seem fine.

10:09 PM  
Blogger Shan said...

Another Canadian here who loves Treehouse. As for the 24 hour thing I must admit I have uttered many a silent prayer of thanks for it while up with a sick kid in the middle of the night.

As for the advertising for adults during kids programming, well that's just wrong and call me naive, but I'm shocked it was okayed.

1:23 AM  
Blogger Oh, The Joys said...

I am one of THOSE people, I'm afraid. We don't let them watch tv at all really.

1:17 PM  
Blogger Alpha DogMa said...

My kids watched 'Curious George' this morning on PBS. It is sponsored by Sunmaid Raisins. At the end of the show the brand logo came up and there is some mention of healthy eating and the tag line is "We thought you'd be Curious about that." Subtle, but still too commericalized.

I'm another whose been up at 3 AM with a vomitous child and let them watch in between spells. I'd rather that than Girls Gone Wild infomercials - which my husband seems to enjoy.

12:15 PM  
Anonymous Marianne in Mass said...

Sprout just keeps finding fewer and fewer ways to show full length kids shows and instead pad it with more commercials. First, there was the various "Good Night" show hosts. Next, they took away all shows between 3-6pm (EST), including the 5-6pm Sesame Street (tell me how many moms besides me utterly depended on that show to get supper on the table), replacing it with an annoying "Let's Go" show (featuring some kind of dog/rabbit puppet that basically has the Star voice from goodnight show). Now I hear that a block of morning shows (can't remember if it is 6-9 or 9-12) is going to be replaced by some kind of "good morning" show with "Kelly". Great. More hackneyed banter (yes, hackneyed even to my 2 year old) between a pseudo-host and another whiny puppet voice.
Thank goodness for On Demand, where I can FF through commercials, and where we can at least get 1/2 hour blocks of the same shows.

9:58 PM  

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