Should Nannies and Au Pairs Allow Children to Watch Game Shows and Situation Comedies?

Daytime television is filled with game shows and with reruns of syndicated situation comedies. Most adults assume there is no harm if nannies, au pairs, and kids watch “Seinfeld” or “The Price is Right.” Right? Wrong.

Children are tough and resilient. Seldom are there single events that shape their perspective of life, rather, a culmination of experiences and influences mold the child into the adult. Those influences should mainly be family, caregivers, teachers, and friends.
Children cannot understand or appreciate the humor of sitcoms. The media often uses verbal aggression to be funny. Caregivers must discuss with their charges that making fun of other people, or being sarcastic, isn’t funny. In shows, actors are exaggerating behaviors that aren’t acceptable in real life. Jokes at another’s expense are never funny.
A playdate is better than a television show. At best, shows like “Everyone Loves Raymond” or “The Cosby Show” portray the foibles of family life in an amusing way. But children are not even mature enough to understand the humor of these sitcoms.
Game shows typically give the impression that you have to know something to win. And some knowledge and some skill is definitely helpful, but game shows are often games of luck. Neither the nanny nor the child learns anything from game shows. Mindless entertainment is not evil or dangerous, just a waste of time that saps mental and physical energy.

The best nannies and au pairs celebrate and enjoys the family whose children they help raise.

Do you watch game shows and situation comedies with your charges? What is your opinion? Do you think these shows are harmful?


  1. The 3 boys I care for had temper tantrums, cried, and were cranky for being pulled away from the tv to eat breakfast this morning. I wish I could say no tv while I am working — period. They get cranky and irritable. They don’t cry when I say come eat while playing legos. Better to keep tv off while working. Nothing wrong with playing with dolls and legos. Kids don’t get bored if they have toys.

  2. The point is well taken, kids do not need tv. They are happier playing in their playroom and riding their scooters. Tv is the least responsive form of activity. Wouldn’t you prefer the parents come home to kids that can tell them about the great book they borrowed from the library or how they made up a new game with their nanny?Live In Nanny, Mercedes, Greenwich CT

  3. Before I became a professional career nanny,I babysat on a regular basis for two families-mostly in the evenings.Because the parents gave their permission, I have let my former “charges” watch the Brady Bunch-(they were 6 and 9). I grew up watching that show-and could relate to how enjoyable it was for the children. They liked it so much we would act out scenes (guess who they liked me to play? ~Alice ;-D. I think it helped them to see different relationships- and different families (even if they were make-believe.)Another of my “charges” (7) enjoyed games- so we would watch Wheel of Fortune and Who Wants to be a Millionaire. She loved word puzzles and trivia- and that helped to open the door to playing- Trival Pursuit and Hangman doing Word Search and Crossword Puzzles too-as well as, borrowing books from the library on trivia- questions. She also liked to act out being the “host” of the show- and asking questions.So I think that was a good way for her to “role play”.Based upon those two experiences, personally I do think children can have good experiences from watching “CERTAIN” game shows and sit-coms.Most of my other charges are/were much younger-(all under 5)so we do/did not watch any other shows except-Noggin, Etc.But with the one 5 year old we did watch-A game show for kids- called “Ruff-Ruffman”which was very educational- so we both looked forward to watching it everyday- right after dinner.~Andrea- Nanny of 8 years, Northern, NJ

  4. I agree that if the parents allow tv watching it makes it difficult to pull kids away from the television. The only thing I don’t understand with comments above is that the “Wheel of Fortune” has never been on during the day where I work and the kids are too small to understand the show anyway. I would think a game of hangman, word searches, crossword puzzels where you choose sight words or vocabulary words the chidlren should know (or are learning in school) would make more sense then turning on Wheel of Fortune. I also think any board game encourages a bond between caregiver and child rather than watching tv without interacting with one another in a positive way. Pull out flash cards or spelling games instead of watching Wheel of Fortune. I have a lot of books that give easy games to play and they are age-appropriate. Wheel of Fortune is for teens and adults.

  5. But, to add what I wrote above: watching a “Wheel of Fortune” a few times a year never hurt anyone either. Balance is the key. If you are there all day like most au pairs and nannies are than two programs or an hour per day is probably fine. But you must follow the parents’ wishes because they are not your kids.Deb

  6. Deb-The child I allowed (with parents approval) to watch Wheel of Fortune was a child I babysat for regularly in the evenings. It comes on at 7:30 p.m.- the child was closer to 8 years old- and very intelligent! I did make it a positive interaction- because we’d both play along with the show- and try to figure out the words. She got into watching the show with her Grandmother-who used to live with them, so it was something she looked forward to at the end of each day. After, she’d get ready for bed/we’d read and she’d be sleeping by 8:30-ish.Also remember- I was the “BABYSITTER” at this position….not A “NANNY”- (as this was before I became a career nanny).~Andrea- Nanny of 8 years.

  7. I did not mean to insult Andrea at all. Sorry if I sounded aggressive before.It takes very little effort to plan other activities than allowing kids to be couch potatoes and you all benefit. Again, nothing wrong with “Wheel of Fortune” occassionally. Plus, on weekends when I babysit we plan to watch a movie, although during the week it isn’t allowed. So to eliminate tv completely isn’t realistic. But it’s hard to do drag kids away from tv without a plan. So just stock up on inexpensive books with easy projects and games and it’s more fun for the au pair too when doing stuff with kids. But, I certainly did not want to offend Andrea and I do not expect no tv at all and if it is “Wheel of Fortune” that’s much better than a soap opera or violent show, of course. Au Pair Deb from Australia working in States

  8. The kids (6 & 8yrs) almost never watch tv while I'm around. Exceptions are verrry rare: sickness and very infrequently at the end of the day, but only when I stay late, and then only rarely. They have way too much to do with homework, activities, and playing! :-)When I started working there (more than 3yrs ago) they did frequently ask if they could watch. But I stated right from the beginning that there would be no tv when I was around, that it was way more fun to play something. So the asking stopped. That's how easy it was. Of course it took some time, but consistency is almost always the key. By now they don't even get the idea anymore, it's just normal that we don't watch tv.On the other hand, they are allowed to watch tv when their parents are around. I think this creates a healthy balance of limited tv exposure between the daytime, when I am around, and we focus more on doing homework, chores, activities, and playing, and the evenings and weekends, when tv may supplement the other activities.We do sometimes get movies from the local library (classics like Mary Poppins and others), which they then watch in half-hour to 1hr sessions. I haven't watched many with them, I just pick them out with them. The older kid really enjoys cooking shows, which she watches with her mom, which I think is a wonderful bonding experience. And I do know that they enjoy watching shows like iCarly, which I think is not exactly geared at their age-group, but they don't watch it when I am around.So, no tv when I am around, pretty much age-appropriate tv when parents are around, so, I would say that is a negative vote on the game show and comedy front (although, some of these cooking shows might qualify as game shows). 🙂

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