Family-friendly fall television? Get real!

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Promos for the up-coming fall TV shows are already running, signaling the end of summer as much as a trip to Target to buy new school supplies. When your family's eyes do return to the TV in search of entertainment, know what to look for.

Look for shows that lead young children to learning opportunities once the TV is turned off, suggested Margie Whitis, an elementary school teacher in Groveport Madison Schools for the past 32 years. "My first graders always talk about Little Bill on NOGGIN," said Whitis. "My kids love the show, plus it does a nice job encouraging kids to read the Little Bill books." Oobi is another NOGGIN favorite receiving accolades from parents and educators alike.

Three new shows center on families; you'll just have to decide if you think they're "family friendly." ABC premieres The Middle, and Modern Family (Wed. 8:30/9 p.m.), while NBC introduces Parenthood midseason (Wed. 8 p.m.). FOX's Family Guy and American Dad are likely not dads you want in your family room when your young children are watching.

Whatever you watch, Lowenstein said, don't waste time channel surfing. "Know your options and spend as much thought picking a 30-minute TV show as you would a two-hour movie." Unlike many early childhood educators who are reluctant to recognize that television has a role in family entertainment, Whitis thinks it does, but puts the emphasis on together time. "The key is to watch as a family. What [your children] find on TV in the evening, especially, may scare or confuse them, or may just be programming you don't want them to see. Know what your children are watching, and ideally, watch with them," she said.

But for these final few summer days, here's an even better alternative to surfing through endless channels: running through one sprinkler. Now that's true reality entertainment.

Kristen Maetzold is a freelance writer and producer for Living & Learning TV with 18 years of experience as a television news producer. She lives in Worthington with her husband David and three stepchildren, Will (21), Anna (17), and Andrew (15), and is a "new" mom to Ellie (16 months).


  • Dr. David Lowenstein's: The Effects of Television On Children including Ten Tips For Parents to Change Viewing Habits
  • Reviews by parents and educators of all television shows, movies, and games: Common Sense Media:
  • For a family guide to prime time television: Parents Television Council:
  • Fall '09 TV line-up:

Links to specific shows:

Links to specific networks: