Controlling cartoon intake

Published 8:15 pm Tuesday, October 20, 2009

When I was a child, nothing was better than Saturday mornings. My brother and I would wake up early and, still clad in our pajamas, make our way into the living room to watch cartoons.

It was the 1970s, and the choices were limited to what was on the three channels we got on our console television. The television did have a color screen, but no one then had heard of a remote control.

We would watch “Bugs Bunny and Road Runner,” “The Harlem Globetrotters” cartoon (with special guests Captain and Tennille!), “Super Friends” and “Scooby Doo.”

After Scooby Doo, (which I required my brother to watch with me because things like the spector in the amusement park scared me to death) we would finish our day with American Bandstand at 10:30 a.m.

And with that, our cartoon viewing was over, and except for a brief showing of “Casper the Friendly Ghost” while we were getting ready for Sunday School, there were no more cartoons to watch until the next weekend.

My, how times have changed.

Now, there are hundreds of cartoons showing at all hours of the day and night. There are multiple cartoon channels with all sorts of shows for young and old.

I am convinced, for example, that “Sponge Bob Square Pants” is showing somewhere 24 hours a day. And, if rectangular yellow sponges aren’t your thing, there’s always a Disney show or Nickelodeon program to keep the kiddies entertained.

Now, Saturday morning is nothing more than just a blip on the screen of never-ending children’s entertainment.

That’s where the parents have to step in and turn off the tube. Sure, it’s good for their development to not watch television.

And sure, it’s the “right” parental thing to do. But I have other motives, too.

If we restrict cartoons to Saturday mornings, we’re bringing back the tradition of wearing footie pajamas and eating cereal while watching a large dog and a group of friends solve a mystery.

Cartoons are just like candy: if you have them every day, then it’s just not special. So, instead of a steady diet, perhaps we need to go back to a once-in-a-while treat.