Owen messes around on youtube a bit, when he’s having quiet time that involves playing with my phone. He knows how to get to his favorites there, Peep and the Big Wide World, Pocoyo, My Little Pony, and a very interesting woman who goes by DisneyCollectorBR, who unpacks, describes, discusses, and plays with her toys. (He doesn’t really understand “Disney” or “toy collecting” but appreciates a good Pizza Planet Lego truck that shoots tiny plastic pizzas out of its front end as much as anyone.)
But, besides that he and Casey sometimes watch Clone Wars together, he also watches very cartoony violence. Sometimes the language is English, so he’s only getting a little of the language (some people consider “shit” a bad word, I’d far rather he say that than call anyone “stupid” like folks on cartoons do), but he’s getting a lot of whacking and light sabers and blowing up, and rude behavior, and a lot of really not very nice stuff.
This morning he’s found Spider-man (in French), but as I watched with him, I realize that it’s not nearly as violent as are classic Donald Duck (with Chip and Dale, especially), which is a whole different kind of violence than, say, Looney Toons. Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd seem much more comical to me than Donald, who can really be just plain mean.
I’m not stopping him from watching these (though we’ve steered him away from, say, violent/icky fan vids for MLP and the movie Bolt, which he also tends to find) but I watch with him, and we talk a bit about them during and after watching. I’m not sure he’s getting the parts where characters are the opposite of what Wil Wheaton recommends, but I do know that there is violence that he asks to go past, or identify at the beginning of a video so I can help him move on. It really bothers him to see anyone repeatedly hit on the head, for instance.
It’s only now and then reflected in play; just this morning Audrey and I noticed that he was waving vacuum cleaner attachments around in a way that was (I thought) a lot like light sabers, but that’s a reasonable way of working out feelings about watching them on TV. It’s not that I don’t want him to do that, I just want to make sure that his ability to work out the same feelings verbally is at least keeping pace with his use of weapons to do so.
We’re probably going to get him a small tablet (Kindle fire or something similar) for ebooks and youtube. There isn’t a net nanny that filters for obnoxious but “appropriate” kid cartoons. What do you do, short of controlling exactly what your kids watch, if anything, or letting them watch absolutely anything?