I felt so dirty I almost had to take a shower

Last night I made a shocking discovery about my beloved son Noodle. It was right up there with discovering a stash of dirty magazines under the bed or realizing the beer fridge had been raided. I found him in bed with ... a Nintendo game. At midnight. With the lights turned off. Under the covers.

You may well be laughing but I am not a fan of computer games for the kids. Neither of my kids owns a game boy or whatever they are called. They do play games on the computer or iPad from time to time but with strict rationing and supervision. I certainly don't think it is healthy to be playing late at night when it's time for sleep.

The game obviously belongs to one of his friends and I don't mind him having it. What I do mind and was shocked about was the secrecy. He hadn't told anyone he had it, I suppose knowing my opinion about them. And to be doing it in such a sneaky manner, well that just makes me wonder what else he has been getting up to without us knowing. He had been acting suspiciously earlier in the evening but he is an odd character at times, hehe.

Chalk that one up to parental experience.

Little Guy watches way too much television. He is very stubborn about doing anything else. For lack of anyone to play with we often relent and let the box go on. It's a very unhealthy situation and a constant battle of wills. We have many fine DVDs that he'll watch but he really loves loud flashy animated cartoons. I feel sick about that too. Why is it so hard to stick to your guns with the youngest?

How much television is okay in your book?

Consider this. For companies like HIT Entertainment which produces Thomas the Tank Engine and Bob The Builder, most of the profits come from sales of merchandise. The company was recently acquired by toy maker Mattel for $680 million. They must be hoping to sell a lot of t shirts, train tracks and plastic lunch boxes! Now consider their advertising. Have you seen it? It screens every morning between six and nine on kids television networks all around the world. Their ads run for thirty minutes. That's one way of looking at children's programming, as fifteen or thirty or sixty minute long commercials for products. And a strong reason for regulation in the children's programming industry.

Now don't get me wrong, we do have a lot of 'character' merchandise in our house. Things I have bought myself, gifts from friends and hand-me-downs. It can be irresistible and unavoidable. I do think it is worth bearing in mind, how to escape the constant pressure to consumerize our children. Any thoughts?

Bob the Builder

PS My very first essay in Marketing 101 was entitled "The Effects of Television Advertising on Children". I got an A+ for that paper and was hooked on marketing from that point. I guess even as a late teen I had an interest in child development and education, little did I know it would come in useful twenty odd years later. It really formed the basis of my parenting philosophy. Fancy that. If only Little Guy would come onboard!


  1. Oh that's a tough one. I used to sneak books under the covers with a flashlight, not really to be sneaky but because sleep has never been as important as a good book!

    But a game- I would probably have the same reaction as you.

  2. A book, yes, I still read until the book falls on my face every night. And I often find him asleep with a book in his hand, glasses and light still on. This, well, I don't like it. Just now I came home from the gym, he is asleep. I actually poked his face to make sure he wasn't pretending and then looked under the covers to see if he had the dreaded thing under there. All clear tonight but you can see how this breeds distrust.

  3. Hi Jacqui, Yes I feel pretty strongly about those hand-held games too. Yu (now 8) seems to have only 1 other friend who doesn't own one & it has already caused issues. I don't plan on allowing him to get one for a very long time.
    TV for the youngest is another issue! I am trying to avoid showing my youngest (soon to be 3)pre-cure. A friends little girl already owns themed toys, jewelery & has been taken to see the movie. I feel like it's an uphill battle! Fortunately she quite likes watching 'baby tv' channel & there isnt much advertising on that.
    Anyway, just wanted to say I feel your pain!


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