I’m still relatively young myself, but I’ve still noticed a huge change in children’s television over the years here in the UK. Television used to be the main source of entertainment for many kids but their viewing habits have changed dramatically in recent years.
When I was young we basically had two children’s TV channels to choose from when we got home from school – BBC1 and ITV. Both these channels dedicated a few hours of TV entirely to children. Nowadays, however, although the BBC still remains largely the same, if you allow your kids to tune into ITV they will probably be treated to one of the many detective shows that they now show in the afternoons such as Inspector Morse or Midsomer Murders.
Despite this, however, you could argue that kids now have more programs to watch because there are entire digital TV channels dedicated to showing children’s TV shows. This is particularly true if you have satellite TV because there are lots of children’s channels on there that are on pretty much all day long. In my day we had maybe an hour in the early morning and then a few hours in the afternoon and that was it. The rest of the time we had to find our own amusement or get on with our homework.
Of course technology has evolved dramatically in the last twenty years or so and some would argue that TV is no longer a large part of children’s lives any more. Indeed a lot of kids probably prefer texting their friends on their mobile phones, playing on their games consoles, listening to their iPods, or using the internet where they can interact with both their real friends and the thousands of ‘friends’ they have on Facebook and MySpace.
There are also a wide number of different websites online that will keep them entertained much more than traditional TV can. For instance many kids will prefer to spend several hours watching videos on YouTube than watching some of the more lacklustre kids shows on television.
So overall children’s TV hasn’t really changed that much over the years since my youth. The programs nowadays are more professionally produced and they can benefit from from improvements in technology, but the content is largely the same. The major change has come from children’s viewing habits in general.
With the advancements in technology, TV is fast becoming somewhat of a dated form of entertainment, particularly for older children, but thankfully I think it still has a role in educating and entertaining our young children in their formative years (before they have discovered the internet, iPods and mobile phones).