Netflix recently added a “Just for Kids” tab to their main page. We’re heavy Netflix users in our house, having cancelled cable almost six months ago. We have Internet-ready devices in two rooms, both of which access Netflix pretty easily, and my eldest can navigate the Netflix menus to find things to watch .
One problem with the service has always been that the main interface on Internet-ready devices has shown row after row after row of titles that I might want to watch, but which aren’t anywhere near appropriate for the kids. I hoped the change in the web interface would help with that problem, but it doesn’t look to be the case yet. So, while looking for an episode of Dora, my daughter will invariably see images from movies I would never let her watch.
And then I start to think, “Do I really want it to be easier? What the hell is the matter with me that my problem with Netflix is that it’s not easy enough for my kids to find stuff to watch on their own?
Part of that is cultural guilt. Unlike our parents, or grandparents, we overwhelmingly say “Don’t let kids watch TV” (although we also overwhelmingly go ahead and let them watch TV). We have lots of reasons for saying what we say, and we’re always finding new ones: obesity, images of violence, smoking, drinking, and drug use. I think we’re hoping, desperately, that the scientific community will prove, incontrovertibly, that watching television causes brain cancer, or autism, or something we can point to and say “Look! That!” because it’s too easy to say “Well, sure, watching a lot of TV means you’re a bit indolent. But my kids also play outside a lot, so they aren’t going to be obese…” We want to find the smoking gun against TV, because it’s been like Jason from Friday the 13th: Every time we think we’ve killed it, it just comes back, with a bigger machete and dripping gore.
And so the convenience tab Netflix has added has me wondering about this aspect of parenting. I watched a lot of TV as a kid, and I probably watch even more as an adult, but my kids don’t watch anything near the amount I used to when I was their age. I don’t feel like my parents messed up in some way by letting me watch G.I. Joe when I was five, but I feel the pressure to not do the same with my kids.
Ramble ramble ramble. Grrr. TV BAD! Grrr.