The benefits in junk entertainment for kids (or adults)

For us, a little Netflix is all we really need when we want to watch something to relax our heads and bodies.

But I used to think that any television was a foolish waste of time. Then I met the husband and he taught me that there is nothing wrong with unwinding with 15 minutes of nice mindless television while you relaxed and drifted off to sleep. And he was, as usual, right. Soon after, I discovered X-Files, a grand show: no stupidity, no farting, no recorded laughing, no excess explosions, no sexy sex, no hyperactive editing, and all of the other stuff I cannot stand in American television.

But how is X-Files any lower than an analog activity such as reading a silly design magazine, light modern novel, or listening to live jazz music? It’s not. What about any music, really? Or any stories or poems? Are only the ones deemed “classic” by some literary organization of any merit? Or what if someone prefers video games? Or playing an instrument? Or drawing pictures? What is the difference between watching X-Files and spending time in a creepy forest if both activities are a source of inspiration for a writer, singer, or artist?

While I am a bigger fan of Dostoyevsky as opposed to, say, Stephenie Meyer, and while I do prefer a night at the opera to a pop concert, I understand that all of these are creative works, commentaries on society, and can all be discredited as “junk” entertainment by someone somewhere at some time past or present. (Although I wholeheartedly sympathize with the grouchy anachronistic feelings of those who cannot stand new-age culture. I know. I understand.)

So what gets me a little angry is when normal adults, who unabashedly enjoy their own magazines, websites, sex novels, television shoes, gossip over sugary coffee drinks, and supermarket tabloids create things like this:

“5 Best Safe Academic Educational Parent-Approved Shows for Your Kids!!” 

So while you read your mindless magazine, your child is limited to incredibly boring (to the point of truly being “bad”) shows where fuzzy characters with saccharine personalities try to make them stand up and physically point to the correct answer to 1+2. No wonder it’s hard for adults to sit through that, and GTA V at a friend’s house becomes a lot more alluring for the youngster.

For some, this is a revolutionary concept: Children, like adults, have stress in their lives as well, and a little down-time with their favorite cartoon (no matter how mindless you think it is) can be relaxing. What if someone restricted your favorite show on the premise that it was not “educational?” Why wouldn’t you want to watch nothing but whale documentaries, Happy Fake Anthropomorphic Time, and Kool Kalculus? Don’t you know this is EDUCATIONAL?! Goodbye Breaking Bad and Mad Men!

But what about those evil video games? Video games do not halt imagination, they have the ability to expand it, and improve hand-eye coordination. Unfortunately even younger parents have the notion that video games are nothing but toys for children, and not a $87 billion dollar industry by 2017, around the time they can be doing serious graphics work as teenagers. Speaking of graphics (and coding and programming and building digital things in general…)

Computers are more than damage to the eyes, they create a fondness for technology that inspires independent learning in many different fields. You need strong math skills for programming– So you go on Youtube and learn it. This is a new generation in a new world, and severely limiting children’s screen time is only holding them back from being “the next Zuckerberg.” (Although personally, I am bidding on my progeny being something 100x greater.)

The origins of any great technological, scientific, artistic, and social development start extraordinarily young, thinking outside the box and wanting to make things better. What may seem as “junk” entertainment can be the start of something very great… or it can simply be relaxing while the future hero rests his head to plan his other great endeavors.

And we shouldn’t be to hard (or easy) on ourselves either.


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