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Play it again, Mom

Some parents might be worried at the sound of a two-year-old clapping gleefully and announcing “TiVo!” when the cheerful icon flashes on screen, but in our house, it’s a mark of pride. My kids know they’re not allowed to watch live TV – only shows that have been recorded and approved. Case in point: For months, my daughter begged me to record Zoey 101. I watched an episode and declined. Something about that show – maybe the fact that these kids are away at school with no parents to guide them? – makes me nuts. And reinforces the “no live TV” rule.

But the reality is that kids watch television. And that doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. True, you shouldn’t prop your two-year-old up on the sofa with Elmo and Dora as his only company for the day, but there’s nothing wrong with helping your older kids make smart choices about what to watch.

On occasion, however, we leave the house, and we can’t figure out how to hook the TiVo up to the DVD player in the car. (An oversight in the manual, I’m sure.) So, recently, we started exploring the exciting world of kids’ shows on DVD. Bearing in mind that the average DVD is watched approximately eleventy billion times in a 6-week period, we had to be sure our choices were shows we wouldn’t mind hearing again and again. Here’s what we came up with.

Hannah Montana – One in a Million

Along with the rest of the free world, my daughters are huge Hannah Montana fans, and so far the show hasn’t disappointed. Hannah and her dad demonstrate their commitment to family over all, and the importance of doing the right thing (while maintaining a killer pop star image) in every episode. I’m not usually a fan of DVDs that only offer a handful of episodes rather than an entire season – it’s hard to feel like you’re getting your money’s worth, and you have to hear the same lines again and again. But this disc offers four terrific eps, plus bonus songs and an episode of That’s So Raven, so I’ll make an exception. If you have a daughter, this DVD won’t disappoint.

Drake and Josh: Season One

Blended families are downright common, and when these two teenage boys suddenly become brothers, they go through the gamut of emotions. The humor is all G-rated, and this show doesn’t have the double entendres so common on television today, which is a refreshing change. This DVD hasn’t been released yet, but it’s worth waiting for, instead of buying the partial-season DVDs that are already available.

The Cosby Show

What’s the point of only buying DVDs of the shows your kids already watch on TV? Treat them to something “new” (to them) that you can enjoy, too. Remember when television was funny and wholesome? There is nothing in any Cosby Show episode that you wouldn’t want your kids to see. And even today’s jaded tweens and teens should enjoy the laugh-out-loud humor.

The Magic School Bus

For the younger set, especially those with slightly older siblings, The Magic School Bus DVDs combine learning and fun in exciting stories. You’ll find your 8-year-old sitting alongside your preschooler, although she might pretend she wasn’t really watching. You might even learn a thing or two yourself, although we’re sure you weren’t really watching either.

Buying TV shows on DVD is another tool in the parent’s arsenal of helping kids make smart choices while maintaining their sense of freedom. Give your kids the chance to explore new genres and confront different ideas within a safe setting. And if it happens to keep them quiet in the back of the car on the drive to the mountains, consider it a bonus feature!

More on TV for your kids:

Kids and TV: How much is too much?

Finding age appropriate books and TV shows





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