Will you let your kids watch Shark Week?

Filed under: Development/Milestones: Babies, Day Care & Education, That's Entertainment

So I'm sitting in my livingroom minding my own business one evening earlier this week when I flip onto a program about baby seals searching for food. "Oh, how cute!" I think to myself. Gee, I just LOVE baby animals, don't you?

I imagine that even though my son is not allowed to watch television--he's barely over four months old--that the gentle sounds he hears on the television and my love of animals will instill in him a sense of respect for wildlife, an appreciation for animals and, heck a love for them too. They're just so darned cute.

Then, out of nowhere, BAM: a giant--and really, folks, it was the size of a boat--massive great white shark came spiraling out the water and attacked the baby seal. Luckily for the seal, death was instant. Not so in the next scenes, where some seals were torn apart and others rather artfully dodged the predators for their lives.

Oh, right--it's Shark Week on the Discovery Channel.

Now, I've always watched shark week and had a keen interest in sharks matched only by my fear of them. I guess I thought knowing as much as I could about sharks would make me less afraid of them.

This go around, however, both my husband and I have noticed that we're a little more squeamish than we used to be. We also just can't bear to watch a baby seal get attacked and subsequently killed by a shark. It's just awful to watch. The baby seals seem so...vulnerable. Just like my own baby.

Now, look, I have nothing against sharks. Sure, I'll never go out into the ocean again after what i just saw, but hey--live and let live, you know? I can appreciate the mechanics of the shark and the awesome beauty of their speed, power, precision and intelligence. They just scare the crapola out of me.

But, most of the programs on Shark Week try to be educational rather than sensational, save for the shows about people who were attacked and survived. Those are pretty gory. At least tips are shared on how to survive a shark attack, I suppose....

So, what do we do about the kids? I can't imagine telling my son that he's not allowed to watch something on the Discovery Channel. I mean, we're not talking Cinemax here. And, as I said, the programming is mostly educational. It's just, at times, also very violent.

Sure, it's the violence of nature, only the strong survive and that sort of thing. But, I have to tell you, sheepish as it was, I turned my son away from the program we were watching and turned the channel when things became more violent.

Will you be letting your children watch Shark Week (or, in this case, have you been allowing them to watch)? If so, at what age did you decide it was appropriate to allow them to view the programming?

Kids tend to either love or hate sharks, depending on the kid (and his/her proximity to the ocean, it seems). I remember being fascinated by sharks as a little girl, although I was terrified of them as well. I'd seen Jaws at a pretty early age, and have feared sharks and deep water ever since.

Still, I took every chance I got--and still do--to check out live specimens at aquariums and the like. My friends and I used to rate such places on their sharks. Live sharks, especially big ones, especially those, with, say, hammerheads, made a place undeniably cool.

And we learned something. In fact, we learned a lot. The learning was exhillerating and scary and beautiful and--heck, yes--meaningful. Respect was born.

So, what do you think? Will you let your kids watch Shark Week?

PS--check out the link to the Discovery Channel. Even if you don't want your kids watching the programming, there are some cool things worth checking out on the web.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.