when i was really young, i watched sesame street, the electric company and zoom on wttw (pbs) during the week and every weekend started with the superfriends and saturday morning cartoons. as i grew older, there was a lot of wfld and whatever channel 44 was called. then the brady bunch, happy days and the partridge family. tv was passive and was the main electronic distraction (it wasn’t until middle school or high school that i had a game console of my own). i had a stereo and listened to a lot of music. my kids this summer have @nickelodeontv on with spongebob, big time rush, icarly and lately victorious. this evening i caught an episode with my 7 year old daughter called “robarazzi” which featured a blog, cell phone status updates, i think a play on tmz and probably other stuff i wasn’t aware of or missed. i think (although i’m not certain) there was a pear laptop (like on icarly). my kids are already online but still spend plenty of time doing the same things i did as a kid (watching tv, playing outside, riding bikes, sleep overs, etc.).
today there are so many ways to also protect what your kids see and hear. from tv, xbox and computer parental controls to “clean” versions of music (i don’t recall a choice as a kid – once you were old enough or your parents let you listen to the violent femmes first album, you heard a bad word twice on “add it up”), but some of parenting still comes down to being aware of what your kids are listening to, watching and who they are hanging out with at school, the park or in the neighborhood. summer is a time to watch the choices they make (my daughter has the tv on, but still spends time drawing and reading, my son watches a lot, but also plays video games and spends a good amount of time outside). during a recent storm i realized that my son was looking for all of the “classic” prepartions (flash light, a radio, etc.) and i was perfectly happy because i had my laptop fully charged and a mifi to keep the internet connection if we lost power! my son and a friend were recently playing trouble (a board game i grew up with) after a sleep over (pretty cool).
i am surprised how often i’m doing more than one thing these days (whether it’s updating my blog while watching a show, texting while eating, emailing as well as 100 other things on the computer, etc.). a recent pbs frontline special called “digital nation” looked at a lot of the distractions and multiple choices that kids have to make today and how the brain isn’t as good at multi tasking as we might think. growing up today is certainly different in some ways, but some things haven’t changed too much!