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What happened to family-friendly TV?

April 1, 2012
Weirton Daily Times

What happened to family-friendly TV?

More than half the shows on TV today I won't watch, let alone let my child watch. I remember once upon a time when you could sit down in front of the television with the whole family and watch a show, and you didn't have to be afraid of what they would say or do.

When I was young, there were shows such as "Growing Pains" and "Full House." Goofy, yeah, maybe, but the entire family from your toddler up to grandma could watch them without fear of what it would teach them.

In today's world, we have shows such as "The Family Guy" that is about a child trying to kill his mother and a teenage girl that is made fun of because of her looks. What is that teaching today's youth? Kill your mom; what a wonderful idea. We have enough troubled kids in this world today. Television doesn't need to encourage it. And making fun of someone because of their looks? Come on. Let's teach kids that it's OK to make fun of others? Another great idea.

The kids (and I mean up to age 18) who are watching this show, which is a cartoon, are impressionable. In most cases, not old enough to know right from wrong. My 3-year-old used to watch it before he told me he wanted to kill me. That quickly came to an end. But he doesn't get why he can't watch it. After all, it is a cartoon.

What happened to the family sitcom? I can remember there being something on EVERY night for me to watch when I was younger. My parents didn't have to worry about nudity or language or violence. There were no warnings for ages before every show. Parents today have to hold their breath waiting from one minute to another on shows such as "The Family Guy" and "The Simpsons."

In addition to the vulgar cartoons, kids today are growing up in a world of reality TV: "Toddlers and Tiaras," "Mom Swap," "Survivor," "Big Brother," "The Amazing Race" and "The Bachelor." What do these shows teach? If you don't like your mom, just trade her for another. Or it's OK to swear and lie and cheat as long as it's game play. Really?

I can't think of one show, just one show, that I would let my son watch, that isn't on a children's station. You have to watch PBS or Disney for something that is OK for children to watch. I applaud these stations for staying true to the family network. Their shows often teach something. I don't remember Mickey Mouse teaching me how to count when I was growing up or someone like Super Why teaching me my ABCs. They do now. Because of shows like this, my son knew his alphabet and could count to 13 before the age of 3. I couldn't do that.

I don't know what networks and creators of shows today are thinking. I guess they're only worried about the adult audience or maybe teaching our children how not to be.

I do know that once upon a time networks and creators cared about whether a family could pop some popcorn, turn on the TV and all watch the same show.

(Letusick, a resident of Rayland, is copy editor for the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)

 
 

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