What research can tell us about tuning in to the Heeler family
We're big Bluey fans, and my kids happen to be similar to Bluey and Bingo in temperament and age difference, so it's helped us with frameworks to talk about some things in how we interact. For example, there's an episode where Bluey basically speaks for Bingo and won't let her make her own choice, and it takes the entire episode for someone to notice and for them to talk about. We've used that as an example sometimes when the older kid is kind of unintentionally steamrolling the younger one, to gently remind how it might feel to the littler. They have indeed also gotten a lot of fun IRL-play ideas from the show, especially Feather Wand which is a really popular game here.
I also appreciate the parts of the show where, maybe unbeknownst to kids, it addresses adult issues like pregnancy loss. And when it is maybe gently nudging and reminding parents that your kids *do* notice when you're ignoring them in favor of your phone, like the episode where they hide Bandit's phone.
So while I also cringed at the fat-shaming parts and am not excusing it, I haven't had to cringe nearly as much as I have for other shows in the whole scheme of my life. And the present-ness and realness of the parents has been a positive model to me. The Heelers are much better than the average TV family. Progress, not perfection!
This is interesting! My 6yo loved Bluey for a long stretch and I didn’t pay too much attention because it all seemed innocuous. I was surprised to read about the fat shaming in it; I learned about that here: https://open.substack.com/pub/laurathomas/p/bandit-standing-on-the-scales-is?r=1fjif&utm_medium=ios&utm_campaign=post
I have fond memories of my dad and daughter trying to sort out pronouns, she would say “this is me, that’s you” and he would respond “this is me, that’s you”. She was so puzzled until one day she got it. (And honestly I was a little sad, they grow up so fast)
Do people feel a lot of pressure (or is there some other motivation) to let their toddlers watch television? I might just be really exceptional here because I pretty much never watch TV on my own accord (and my husband, the resident TV junkie, is unable to watch TV due to a brain injury..). But I have to be honest, "picking a children's show to watch" literally never comes to mind for me as something I want to do with my precious little family time.
Why do people feel the need to let kids-under-three watch television at all? I can imagine kids who watch tv at their friends/cousins houses might be very persuasive in demanding to see a show, but ... I dunno, just throwing it out there that you can literally have a TV free house if that's what you want.
After all, there is also that post on TechnoSapiens pointing out the evidence that screen time is not great for kids under three. For older kids, readers may also be interested in a relevant chapter in Nurture Shock (a very interesting book overall), which points out that so called "educational" shows, such as Arthur, which model a conflict and then a resolution by the end of the episode, actually usually end up teaching the kids new bullying tactics without even imparting the feel-good "moral of the story".
Just like with Baby Einstein, and anything that claims to teach infants and toddlers language using a passive and inherently non-interactive video screen, you really have to be skeptical. The research shows very young kids learn from real adults, not from the boob tube.
I loved reading this post. It was such a great combination of the limited research we have on kids media, an in depth analysis of Bluey (you highlighted so many things that I had not noticed), and your son’s commentary. I also was so intrigued but what they show in Australia but we censor/ban in the States. This honestly could be a regular feature or a second newsletter!
Bluey is a good show
While I agree with this post, we had to give Bluey a break and find some other shows.
Our kids are picking up on the worst behaviors and not necessarily on the good things. We are not the only ones, either ....