Thursday, November 25, 2010

Things I've noticed: My kids don't watch TV the way I did at their age

Lately I've noticed that my daughters watch a healthy variety of television shows (although as one of them is in University she watches a lot less than the other). Favourite shows of my thirteen-year-old in 2010 include Lost (she's watching it on DVD), Merlin (a BBC series about the wizard during his teen years), Doctor Who (the entire current franchise including Sarah Jane and Torchwood), H2O: Just Add Water, a show about (according to our PVR) three crime-fighting teenaged mermaids, produced in Australia, and Doogie Howser, M.D.

A lot of the shows she watches are available through specialty channels like Space and Nickelodeon (H20 airs at about 2:00 in the morning), or aren't currently airing anywhere, but she watches them on DVD at her own pace. Today I was thinking exactly how different this is from the shows I was watching at the age of thirteen.

In 1989, I was in grade eight and had relocated to Sherwood Park (a hamlet just outside of Edmonton, where I had lived until then), and so my television watching was a little frazzled. Every morning I watched The Super Mario Brothers Super Show on YTV at about 6:00am. I watched this show because my other options at 6:00 were the local news, various exercise shows, and perhaps the cartoon Teddy Ruxpin. At night I hung out with friends and didn't actually watch a lot of TV except for Friday nights where I watched 2 hours of comedies on ABC (Perfect Strangers, Full House, Mr. Belvedere and Just the Ten of Us), but past that I mostly read and watched horror movies (coincidentally most of the female leads on Just the Ten of Us had been in Nightmare on Elm Street films).

We had a VCR, and on weekends I would watch Saturday morning cartoons, and classic Star Trek on CBC, but otherwise that was about it - a total of maybe 12 hours of TV a week. My daughters watch closer to 20, and as an adult I watch about 25. I'm not actually saying that this is too much, as I believe that people use television as a way to connect (instead of saying "How bout those Mets, we'll say, "Did you see The Office last night?"), and without seeing a bunch of the shows their friends do, my kids would be left out in the cold.

Its funny to think that just a decade before I was thirteen, in 1979, most people didn't have VCRs, so if there wasn't anything good on television or in the theatres you literally had to make your own fun.

In the end it makes me wonder what my potential grandkids viewing habits will be, will my daughter's 20 hour a week habit seem quaint to them?

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