My Kids Have a Dora Problem

Since we don’t own a TV (ditched our last one in 2000), many of our friends and family members were concerned that our kids would be so isolated from pop culture that they would be ostracized by their peers. Luckily (I guess), the internet solved that problem by offering all kinds of programming for free on the small screen.

Our twin girls got almost zero screen time before age two, per recommendation of… well pretty much everyone aside from the Baby Einstein cartel. These days, as almost-3-year-olds, they watch maybe two hours of actual shows (Elmo and–God help me–Barney, mostly) at home on the iPad, and probably play with kids’ apps for another two hours. And to our snobby delight, they spend several hours every day with books: having us read them aloud, looking at them, and quoting long passages verbatim.

Despite my self-righteousness, I must now admit that there have been a few drawbacks to keeping our kids on this very restrictive media diet.

They have yet to sit through a feature-length movie. I think if they did, it might make their heads explode, or otherwise give them permanent brain damage, since an hour of Sesame Street already leaves them pretty dazed. Also, since most non-PBS kids’ entertainment is full of jump-cuts and crazy effects, they often get overwhelmed when something is playing at their friends’ houses. Anything even mildly dark or scary is likely to leave them quietly sobbing.

But much worse than their ultra-sensitivity to drama is their unnatural love for Dora. They discovered Dora at our gym’s childcare facility, and apparently it has tapped into some primal component of their psyches, because they have been absolutely obsessed with all things Dora, Boots, Swiper, Map, and a bunch of other characters I’ve been lucky enough to not become familiar with since, as I’ve explained to the kids, our iPad doesn’t know how to play Dora. I’ve worked with the Kids’ Club staff at the gym to not let them watch it every time we come in. Sometimes, we tell the girls, Dora is just broken.

When they do watch Dora though, they are absolutely mesmerized. The Kids’ Club ladies say they’ve never seen anyone so engrossed in a show that other kids can bounce soccer balls off of their heads without them noticing. Then, when I try to take them home, even though Kids’ Club is closing, the TV is off, and all the other kids are gone, my girls stare at the black screen and mumble, “I’m the map I’m the map…”

There have been a few times, after a Dora binge, when I’ve had carry them, kicking and screaming  through the gym, looking like the worst parent ever. I guess that’s my comeuppance for being a male sanctimommy.

 

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About BetaDad

BetaDad is a fortysomething stay-at-home dad who is sometimes allowed out to build stuff out of wood or teach college students how to write. Most of the time he just chases his toddler twin girls around though. He Dad can also be found at his personal blog as well as Daddy Dialectic, Dad Centric, Insert Eyeroll, and Man Of The House

Comments

  1. Mandy says:

    My husband grew up without television and it’s strange that there’s this whole 20 year gap of cultural knowledge. He doesn’t get many of my references and jokes because of his abstinence from The Brady Bunch, The Monkees, Sesame Street, The Flintstones, Tom & Jerry, Captain Kangaroo, etc. Like that whole list. It means nothing to him. It’s almost like dating a foreigner or an alien. Which is kind of exotic. It keeps the mystery alive.

  2. smee says:

    Back in the day, probably when you were a kid, I had my 5 kids. Think of the days when you had to go *rent* a VCR; this was when everyone was thrilled with “Oregon Trail” scrolling ever westward on their TI computer. Yup, I was the mom who said absolutely “no” to all the video games that were on the horizon and continued to say “no” as the kids grew up and went to HS, and everyone else had Nintendo and eventually an X-Box. My reasoning was very similar to yours, anything beyond “Big Blue Marble” or “Mr. Rogers” was just plain mind numbing and caused my kids to go bonkers. The games made everyone in the house mad – literally, and so I never said “yes”.
    When the oldest moved away, he came back at Christmas with a “gift, so you can’t throw it away and you have to let them play with it.” – an X-Box. The kids, then all in HS, fought with it for about an hour, played with it, and grew board of it in 3 hours time and decided to go rock climbing instead. It hasn’t been played with since.
    Moral of the story: t.v. *is* mind numbing, videos are weapons of mass destruction, fire bad, rock climbing good.
    Good Luck with the Dora Detox. : )

    • Leila says:

      As a competitive gamer I would really like to know what’s so dangerous about videogames (weapons of mass destruction? really?). Anything is mind-numbing if you do it too much. Heck I’d rather sit my kids (when I have them) in front of a videogame than ever see them touch a book like Twilight, which is mind-numbingly painful to read. I’m sure for you and your family, videogames were an evil you had to avoid. However, I wouldn’t dismiss it for the rest of the world. For one, it gave me an opportunity to lead a group of diverse teens all over the world during official videogame competitions – an experience I will never change for anything. I basically learned how to strategize (you have no idea how my physics and chess abilities improved because I was able to directly apply the strategic thinking I had during tournaments) and develop unbreakable bonds you don’t get by simply reading their “dear diary” posts on a blog. At the same time though, I know my limits and never let videogames take over my life. Yes the games I play are violent. Yes it can be time-consuming. However, you can control that. Books and movies can be just as violent (heck almost every book I read has a graphic fight scene/porno love scene) That’s a type of discipline kids have to learn by being exposed to things and making mistakes, no? Well either way, my parents managed fine when it comes to disciplining us about videogames and TV and we were all academically successful in high school and college. All my siblings (except me because I’m still in college) also ended up as loving parents despite having touched these weapons of mass destruction you speak of.

      The Dora obsession most kids have. Having taken care of at least 30 kids in all 4 years of my high school, they all had their obsessive phases – whether it was a movie, a board game, their parents’ iPad, etc. Albeit it was exacerbated by the in-exposure, but they’ll get over it because I know betadad is a good parent.

      • smee says:

        Wow. Leila, calm down, it’s o.k. if *you* liked, enjoyed, learned from or otherwise had a great time with video games, not that you need my, or anyone else’s permission. *My* point was that in *my* house video games caused *my* kids to self destruct, argue with each other, and they were addictive, so we said “no more”. I did’t say they were “evil” and I never endorsed “Twilight”. All five of our kids grew up pretty normally in spite of their not being able to watch *some* t.v. and not playing video games. They had friends, graduated well above average, have great jobs and are good people despite our limiting this one area of pop social customs.
        My sincere apologies if anyone else felt I was calling out BetaDad for being a bad parent, quite the contrary, I was *trying* to lend support for his decisions to limit what *he* felt he could *in his own family*.

        Moral of the story: find some humour.

        • Leila says:

          My sincerest apologies for taking offense and being humor-less. I just think it’s funny when people blame the object as being evil, when it’s just an object!

          Never did I say you accused Beta Dad of being a good parent. That was just a little side note, a little reply to the overall post. I’ll clarify better next time (adding a tinsy bit of humor as well).

      • Emily says:

        I see where you’re coming from Leila. But I think making comparisons between babysitting and actual child-rearing, are simply null and void.

        • Leila says:

          Wait, so the fact that I was talking about ME growing up alright WITH videogames becomes null and void because me being a babysitter invalidates everything? Did I say I was a good parent because I babysit or what?

  3. tricia says:

    Coming by way of DailyBuzz Moms- My kids have a love affair with Dora and Diego, too- It’s a sort of rite of passage, I think. :) Funny post-

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