Friday, August 10, 2012

The Problem with Cartoons

Curling up with cartoons in the morning is a long-standing tradition that dates back to the year Mr. A was born. I was working nights, and being able to kick on the television and distract him for a few hours was my key to catching another hour or two of sleep.

Maybe not the best habits to foster, but hey. A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.
Now, when Mr. A was born, good cartoons were a dime a dozen. We’d watch “Bear in the Big Blue House”, “Darkwing Duck” and “Dora the Explorer”. Things started taking a downturn when Princess C came along, but they weren’t bad. By the time G-Money was old enough to appreciate the wonders of animation, his options were pretty gosh-darned cruddy.

Fortunately, we were too cheap to pay for cable. All those Dora and Blues Clues DVDs came in handy.

Now that the kids are older and moving beyond Thomas the Tank Engine and Care Bears, I’m not impressed. We’ve pretty much banned Cartoon Network in my house for excessive violence and encouraging bad behavior. Even the Disney Channel is letting me down. I love Phineas and Ferb, but even Suite Life and Pair of Kings is a perfect launch pad for anarchy and terminal verbal diarrhea.

Short story, our kids are getting bombarded with messages about how it’s “cool” to talk back to their parents, play pranks on their supervisors and disrespect their friends. And it’s not cool.

What happened to the cartoons of our youth? I know I’m not romanticizing it. These days, if nobody gets their butt kicked, my kids don’t want to watch it. I did, however, find one show I really like.

Magi Nation

If you have older kids who are into Yu Gi Oh and Pokemon, you have to check this out. The show is essentially Pokemon, but in a dream world with dream creatures. The best part is, there are math and science lessons incorporated into each show. The kids get to see Gorram be captured and sent back to the dream land AND discover the lattice and pure minerals inside crystals. They track down the dream stones while discovering addition, subtraction and greater than/less than, which might not mean much for older kids but is solid gold when their six year old brother’s in the room too.

Most importantly, it teaches things like friendship and family values while still giving them enough action to keep them interested. I love it.

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