Have you ever heard it said that Television shows and films (Cinema) are the new form of Literature? Surely it is for these people who have grown up with it. Reading is a necessity but what do you do when your kids only want to watch what is served up for them? Are they getting anything on the order of what people used to get from only reading all the time, even before there was radio? Were those people before TV and radio more intelligent than these later people? What can you do about it?
I'll give you one suggestion. Teach your kids Cinema. Use it for film and use it for TV shows.
What do I mean by that, you ask? Well, think about it (oh no, not critical thinking again....). Yes, critical thinking. When you lived a hundred years ago and you only had books to read, you didn't just read whatever you liked, you didn't just read it and be done with it. People always wanted to talk about it. Parents and teachers wanted to "teach" you about what you are reading. Ways to view what you're read, making you try to fathom what the author was talking about, what things were like for the period of which you just read about.
And so that can be done now also. YOU learn about what it is to be a student of Cinema. Then pass that to your kids. But a book on it (no, really). I studied Cinema at University and it was very much like deconstructing Literature, actually, more intense because really there are more elements involved.
Think about it. Autuer Directors, Film, give meaning through texture, dimension, color or black and white, all of which project atmosphere, a Mise-en-scène, which tells a story. Many times a story a lot of us aren't getting because we're illiterate in the medium of which we are partaking.
"Mise-en-scène (French pronunciation: [mizɑ̃sɛn] "placing on stage") is an expression used to describe the design aspects of a theatre or film production, which essentially means "visual theme" or "telling a story" —both in visually artful ways through storyboarding, cinematography and stage design, and in poetically artful ways through direction. Mise-en-scène has been called film criticism's "grand undefined term." - Wikipedia
There are cuts, scenes, montages, various elements of which most people are unaware are being used upon them in their viewing of a film or TV. IF we were all "literate" in film techniques, the quality of TV and film would immediately be raised to a higher standard, because no one would accept some of the crap we are fed on a daily basis.
Applying techniques of Cinematic studies to daily TV or film watching does several things all at once. It makes staring into the TV less mindless, it makes it more than entertainment and possibly, makes it work so that less TV watching is actually desired. It opens a discourse between ages: parent and child, opening minds, children to reality and parents to their childrens' wonder, allowing them more insight to where their children are.
Basically, you can let your kids be baby sat by the TV, DVDs, whathaveyou, or you can push the literature of the visual media on them. After an initial period of anger, frustration, annoyance and surrender, they will find that they actually get into it, not to mention, everything they watch will have more meaning.
What is being said by the screenwriter, the director, the cinematographer, lighting, camera angles, and so on. Its not that the entertainment industry has so much as let us down, but maybe we have let them down, by not trying to learn the craft they push at us on a day by day and hour by hour, representation of who and what they all are.
You can sit by the couch side and learn nothing or delve more deeply into the deep recesses of history, film and media, and you may find the world around you is far more fascinating than you could ever have imagined.