I was watching In The Night Garden with my 14 month old Granddaughter and IP (as I think is an appropriate nickname in a digital age) is always the last one awake; but who knows why as none of the characters ever say anything! It doesn’t seem to bother my granddaughter though, as she sits transfixed watching the brightly coloured characters do nothing very much!
I think it was the Teletubbies who started the trend for asexual characters making nothing but odd noises and having very odd adventures and I remember my own younger children watching them, but what do youngsters learn from these shows?
My kids also watched Postman Pat, Bob the Builder and The Tweenies but they were ‘talking’ characters in ‘real life’ situations dealing with ‘real’ problems that they managed to solve. And although, I suppose, The Clangers and even Bill and Ben and The Magic Roundabout had weird characters and settings, at least they had a story in them!
And this is probably the real question! Is it that children’s imagination or requirements from entertainment have changed since my children were young, or am I just a Granddad getting old?
In a multi-media, interactive, always-on world, perhaps children’s attention span has grown so short that their TV programs simply need to be colourful and visually stimulating, but must have a storyline that is so undemanding that they can do several other things at the same time. Such programs are probably preparing them well for a world that will continually inundate them with stimuli, distractions and demands on their attention – both socially and ultimately in their work lives.
Children’s development needs must always be changing as the world becomes more complex. When my children were younger it was all about the dangers of cigarettes and not eating well. Today, although those issues still exist, we also need to teach them awareness of social and online risks as well as the multitude of dangers in the physical world; but the pace of change seems to be getting faster, so the way they start to learn – through Cbeebies for example – must change too?
So perhaps Iggle Piggle’s reluctance to go to bed is a subtle way of telling children that, whilst there are so many things to do that they might want to stay up all the time, they do have to set it all aside and sleep! At least IP always does end up going to bed – or at least sailing off to somewhere peaceful…
And my granddaughter usually does the same.