If you think I’m here to preach the proper amounts of screen time and toddler-to-tablet ratios, you’ve got the wrong idea. Just the opposite, actually. I use television to entertain my 2.5 year old far beyond the “recommended” allowance and my 8 month old seems to enjoy a good parade of cartoon characters for extended periods of time as well. What can I say? I have two small, diaper-clad humans at home with me all day, everyday, and bills don’t pay themselves. We cut ties with cable three years ago, however, we still have access to all of the staple shows and movies via Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Disney, PBS, and more. The problem with that? The ability to replay episodes is far too easy and quickly becomes expected by the little tyrants. Before you know it, Sunny Bunnies plays for the 9000th time and your dreams are haunted for all of eternity.
Luckily, if you haven’t ventured too deep into the world of television and other screen time fun, I have complied a list of what shows you need to steer clear of and others your kiddos will love that won’t drive you insane (or at least will take more time to drive you nuts).
Kids’ TV Shows to Avoid at All Costs:
Sunny Bunnies – This reminds me of today’s version of Teletubbies. These “cute” and colorful little “bunnies” are all too visually pleasing to young, wide eyes. All three of my kids can find themselves mesmerized by the jibberish they speak and the repetitive, high-pitched tune playing in the background. These are shorts you can find on the Disney app, but be weary of the term “short,” because on the app they ALL play back to back and your kiddo will make your life a living hell if you hit the power button.
Tsum Tsums – Similar to Sunny Bunnies, these are adorable little Disney characters that find themselves in fun little predicaments that are sure to catch your little’s attention. I have even been known to enjoy a few minutes of these shorts myself, and they really aren’t as bad as the evil Bunnies. However, chances are the tune will be enough to give you a permanent eye twitch if overplayed. This one is fresh for me, as my toddler had the flu last week and ONLY wanted this on re-play 24/7. I gave in because my alternative was his crying and howling. Still not sure if I made the right decision.
Caillou – Almost every parenting blog, meme, or just about anyone who has experienced this show with their kiddos will tell you to steer clear. Caillou is just obnoxious, and just trust me when I say you’ll be a better person and parent for avoiding this show. Everyone is just too even keel and you will literally want to jump through the TV and strangle all of the characters.
YouTube – Since starting the 1st grade, my 6-year was introduced to the world of LOL Dolls and the world of other surprise toys that are all of the craze right now. What I didn’t realize is that there is a whole world of YouTube dedicated to children watching other children open these “surprises.” My daughter is obsessed and spends more time watching other kids open toys then she does playing with the dozens of toys she “had to have” in her room. I know what you’re thinking: just don’t let her watch that rubbish, you’re a bad parent. But until you get stuck in this obnoxious 6-year old girl world of LOLs and Youtube, easier said then done. So, my advice: NO YOUTUBE!!!!!! Just don’t start it. ***note: this post was written prior to the whole terrifying “Momo” scare, so now more than ever I say AVOID unsupervised YOUTUBE for littles.
Molang – No idea what this is? Youtube it (without kids in listening distance). You will never want to hear this banter again. I still cannot figure out what Molang is either. And Yu Yu? Don’t even ask.
Masha and Bear – Don’t get me started on Masha. This show can be found on Netflix and while it appears to be a cute little show about the relationship between a bear and a sweet Goldie Locks-type girl, it will do nothing more than teach your little one that it’s okay to be precocious, rude, and get their way. Obnoxious.
Mickey Mouse – Okay, has anyone seen this “new” Mickey Mouse show? It is SO bizarre. Like Ren and Stimpy weird. I don’t know. I don’t like it and I don’t like when my kids watch it. It weirds me out to see Mickey and friends like that.
Kids’ Shows I Can Handle in Small Doses:
Mickey Mouse Club House – I am a true Disney fan and love me some Mickey Mouse, but man oh man, there are only so many times in a day I can hear the “hot dog” song.
Beat Bugs – This is a cute concept, especially for Beatles fans who would love their kiddos to enjoy the same music. It’s just not my cup of tea for a repeat situation.
Word Party – I appreciate the educational quality for the preschool and younger age group here. The characters just drive me bonkers with their baby-ish voices. I can handle it if it’s what my kid is into on a given day, just not everyday.
Sid the Science Kid – I actually haven’t watched this show in a few years. My daughter was really into it but my son isn’t a fan. It’s another educational experience when you want to avoid the brain numbing stuff that’s provided in other shows, but even though it’s been a few years, I can still recite the theme song, word for word, similar to the gum song situation from Inside Out. It’s like your brain just hits play at random times in your adult world. Weird.
Super Why – Another show for littles that explores educational adventure. They can learn and play along, which is great. The thing that bugs me about this show is the irritating pauses that allow for open response from the watchers. Great for kids to play along. I know. I am weird with what drives me crazy. I just want to yell at the TV -“MOVE ON!”
Most Tolerable Kids’ Shows:
Sesame Street – Sesame Street is just the best. It’s like SNL for kids with all of the skits and variety pieces. I think it’s fun for adults, too, as we get to enjoy celebrity appearances and music. Who doesn’t love Elmo?!
Curious George – I have a special place in my heart for Curious George. The episodes are never overly obnoxious, the story lines are chill, and if your child is into it, it’s not going to give you a migraine to play episode after episode.
Disney movies – As I mentioned above, I am a big Disney fan. So, whenever I need an hour or two to get things done, I put on a Disney classic for my troop. You can’t go wrong with The Lion King, Moana, Toy Story, etc., etc. The music is always great and typically won’t cause your eye to twitch, it’s not the same thing on repeat every 60 seconds, and there are enough adult thematic elements hidden within that if your kiddo wants you to watch with them, it’s not soul crushing.
Modern parenting at its finest. I know.