Why do children like their Television? 

29 April 2022 tbs.pm/74865


Radio Times Annual 1954 cover

From the Radio Times Annual 1954

THIS is not my title: it was a question thrown at me by an enquiring editor. The only possible answer is to quote the now famous reply to the question: ‘Why climb a mountain?’ — because it is there.

Children are obliging enough to like most things, especially those which contribute towards their own happiness. Unlike the more jaded of their elders they find happiness in discovery as well as in slapstick and are as enthralled to be shown what makes the wheels go round as they are amused to see custard pies sail through the air.

Television especially designed for children has now been on the air long enough for parents with rising families to note the changes of taste which show themselves in their young. At three small boys and girls sit engrossed with Watch With Mother, playing the games or singing the songs when invited to do so. At six they cast furtive but affectionate glances back at Andy Pandy while being lured towards Tex Ritter or whoever is the reigning cowboy of the moment.

At eight they enjoy blood and thunder, fights, speed, and noise. At ten they are zooming away in space ships. From then onwards they begin to select, somewhat at random it must be confessed, because their likes and dislikes are as short lived as they are violent.

The ten-year-old looks at television as he does at any aspect of life, with an alert interest, unconsciously seeking that especial grist which will best suit his particular mill. Everything is welcome, the pleasure of rejection being as great as that of approval. In another two years he will have become an individual with clearly defined tastes, though still not certain which of his chosen interests will develop into his main concern. A dawning maturity begins to determine his actions; school makes demands which he now sees have some right to be fulfilled. His prowess at games and skill in sciences, arts or crafts, are young but established; he looks back on the long years of his childhood and marvels at how ill-informed and undeveloped he was six months ago. He sees with h»s mind as well as his eye — becomes critical and is very likely astonished to find himself able to tolerate, even like, music and poetry. He is conscious of the pleasure to be found in growing up.




Three children watch television

‘Television is there for their pleasure’

Television offers him, in his own home, a wide range of subjects through which he can exercise this pleasure. He can watch craftsmen at their work, see sportsmen of international fame showing how to hold a bat or kick a ball. He can watch plays and serials which may be based on the traditional classics of childhood, or on history or adventure. He can laugh at clowns and pause for thought before a religious play; the news is explained to him, he can hear and watch musicians of a very high order playing their instruments or enjoy the performance of his own contemporaries in the programme All Your Own. He can try his hand at the many skills put before him, and he can compete in some for prizes varying in value from a propelling pencil to a trip abroad.

Best of all, he is free to do what he likes with what he sees. There is no compulsion about it, no one says he should or should not look at television—it is there for his own pleasure. There is no other reason for its existence. That is why he likes it.


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1 response to this article

Alan George Keeling 29 April 2022 at 4:01 pm

Those semi-animated Hank the Cowboy cartoons were originally filmed in colour.

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