This past September, Noggin, the Nickelodeon-owned commercial-free pre-school channel, transformed itself into Nick Jr. There is also a Nick Jr. on the main Nickelodeon channel itself. It's an early-morning block of TV shows.
Recently my daughter's TV viewing has been transitioning from decidedly pre-school-targeted shows -- "Max and Ruby," and "Dora the Explorer" -- to shows that will air on the Nick Jr. channel and on the Nick Jr. programming block. She's watching the slightly older stuff -- in particular, "The Fresh Beat Band," also a pre-school-targeted show but featuring 'tween musicians/singers.
While setting the DVR for that show, I realize what comes with age: more exposure to commercial messages. Nick Jr. runs commercials against "Beat Band" featuring toys, videos, and in-house Nick messaging -- apparently the stuff my four-year-old really needs.
It is now that I realize my 75% rule kicks in -- the one that theorizes no matter what you do, 25% of anything on average is wasteful -- time watching TV, the money spent on contractors to improve your house, the gym workout you had this week.
As much as parents want to completely eliminate lame, inappropriate, or heavily commercialized TV content for their kids, the fact of the matter remains that 25% of the time this kind of content is probably on the children's TV screen.
But don't fret. A perfect educational/marketing-free world of entertainment doesn't exist. This doesn't mean you can't do something to provide a better experience for your kids. Hello, fully functioning DVR remote!
Even at her young age, my daughter is already adept at digital media. Her feats include manipulating the computer mouse on her mother's iMac for games, interactive content, and videos on Nick Jr., Playhouse Disney, and PBS Kids.
My daughter already knows how to start and stop the action from our DVR when she needs to take a bathroom break. Now, I can teach her the best part of the device: fast-forwarding. Four-year-olds always want to control stuff. I'm just giving her better tools.
Of course this is not all bad news for marketers. Teaching my daughter about DVRS will probably mean -- what else? -- more TV viewing. (We are at the currently recommended one-hour-a -day threshold for young kids).
The message for marketers in all of this: Use your technology to get to me and my daughter -- your new savvy TV consumer -- to buy those products you believe will change our lives.
But you need to hurry up; kids' marketers are already moving ahead. Talking about TV while pulling out of the driveway one day, my still-preschooler said innocently enough: "Daddy, could we watch 'High School Musical'?"