Two-year-olds: Plop them in front of the TV and give them a Coke!

According to this article, the French government is no longer allowing its TV stations to air shows aimed at children under 3 years old. Apparently, there are entire channels (BabyTV* and BabyFirstTV) dedicated to programming for the under-3 set, 24 hours a day. I had no idea this 24/7 baby programming existed until I read this. The odd thing is that these channels are available through satellite, which the French government actually can’t ban. So French households will still be able to access BabyTV. However, what the ruling does is prevent French stations from promoting the channels or any other shows aimed at very young children.

I have mixed feelings about this. For one, I’m against government legislating the way in which people should parent their children; they’re integrating themselves into households in a scary, Big Brother sort of way. Not to mention that you can’t legislate good parenting. Do you really think that just because parents won’t be able to use BabyTV as a babysitter they will, instead, spend lovely quality time with their children? Ummm, somehow I doubt that. Why do I suspect that they’ll either 1) find some other activity to keep their kids out of their hair, thus not spending more time with them, or 2) they’ll still park their kids in front of the TV, only watching something wildly inappropriate for their age range?

On the other hand, it’s frightening when Big Business starts treating young children as consumers. There’s a whole hook-‘em-when-they’re-young mentality to all this baby programming that sends up red flags all over the place for me. And if their parents aren’t going to look out for their best interests (and, really, preventing very young children from watching TV for hours a day is in their best interest), isn’t it up to society-at-large to take care of them? And society-at-large is certainly going to be affected when all these TV-fed children are unleashed into its folds. Stations like this do not exist for the good of the children, as much as Big Business and some parents would like to think so. Instead, they exist for the convenience of the parents and to create consumers.
Ultimately, I feel channels like BabyTV are a symptom of a bigger problem, which is the consumer-frenzy that has gripped the world. And I’m all for slowing down a bit and keeping things within reason. Let’s put a stop to seeing our** children as nothing but future consumers.

* Not only can you get BabyTV through satellite on your set, but you can also get it online (sit your kids in front of the computer!) and you can also listen to Babio (baby radio) on their website. I don't know, but it just doesn't seem right to be streaming like this with young children. Let's just hook 'em up to an IV!
** I use "our" in a very collective sense because, as most of us know, we're affected on a daily basis by other people's parenting decisions. So those who don't have children should still care very much about this.

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