Every week Princess Pea and I go to the library for story time. Story time starts fifteen minutes after the library opens; we get there as soon as the doors are unlocked (sometimes earlier). We walk in, return last week’s books and head to the children’s section. Princess Pea goes immediately to the toys. While she indulges in the plastic kitchen, I fill our over sized tote bag full of plastic covered hardback children’s books. Our library puts out various books on display on top of the book shelves, and I pretty much snag all the display books.
This time around I found a few pretty good ones. The first is Everyone Loves Bacon by Kelly Dipucchio and Eric Wight. Wight’s pictures are engaging, filled with action, and comical. Dipucchio tells such a witty story. The book is about Bacon who lives in a diner. He becomes the most popular food in the dinner. Page after page is filled with Bacon and his growing popularity. It even shows how Bacon lets it go to his head and becomes a complete jerk. At this point in the story, you’re wondering where it is going, well, the ending is the best. Everyone Loves Bacon.
I took a class at CSU that talked about the effects of storylines in books and TV on young children. Research found that children struggle with villains or bad actions. Watching these characters can have a negative impact unless there is a consequence for their actions. A perfect example is Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Pretty much every episode is Jake and his crew is off to solve some problem or retrieve some treasure. Captain Hook hears about it and wants to steal the treasure right under their noses; he gets caught, fails, and has the Tick Tock Crock chase him around.
Pretty much any show geared to younger children always has the good guy win and the bad guy loose. But if you look at the shows rated Y7, there isn’t really a consequence for those who make bad choices, or there is more of a gray area. The perfect example of this is The Miraculous Adventures of Lady Bug and Cat Noir. The bad guys are bad because they are victims of circumstance, once they are stopped, there is no real consequence for their behavior. They go back to their lives, often with Lady Bug or Cat Noir fixing or resolving the reason why they went bad in the first place. I have to be honest, I really dislike this idea. Just because kids are older, doesn’t mean that consequences go away or even that having a good reason for a bad behavior makes it ok.
Looking at shows geared to teens is even worse: parents are dumb, kids are smart, kids defy parents, but they have a good reason so it’s all good. Uhm, No. This is not how the real world works. There are so many connections as to why my generation is a bunch of whiners that can’t cope with rejection, reality, and adulting. Well we’re not doing the next generation any favors with these shows (rated Y7 and up) that let people off the hook in shades of gray. Bleh. I struggle watching my crime dramas when the crime is being committed because I have a hard time seeing people intentionally making such horrible choices.
Why though? Why is this so bad? Well our brain is made up of neurons. Lots and lots of neurons. Each neuron has specialized functions (like seeing, smelling, decoding language, etc). Well there is this special neuron called a mirror neuron. Mirror neurons activate in different parts of our brain when we watch other’s do something. When we watch people dance, play football, or just doing their TV job, our brain relates. It could be why people like me can’t handle watching awkward situations on TV or why I get appalled by criminals in crime dramas. I wouldn’t do that and I’m feeling things, relating to things that aren’t me.
Understanding mirror neurons not only helps with us watching other people, but it helps us understand why we should alter our own actions. If we put out there actions that we want people to internalize (like our children) then we should put the example of that behavior. Maybe this is why actions speak louder than words and 90% of our communication is nonverbal.
Whatever the reason is, I know that Bacon is indeed, delicious.