As children in different stages of our youth for many in my generation, like those born in the 90s (early childhood, grade school age, and adolescence), we all had different tastes in different pop culture and entertainment.
When we were babies and small children, about ages 3 – 5*, we loved pretty much the same movies and TV shows, such as Barney and Friends, Sesame Street, Teletubbies, and Blue’s Clues. And as we got older, by around 6, our tastes split up as we discovered our personalities and differences.
Some of us watched Cartoon Network, such as The PowerPuff Girls, Scooby Doo, Dexter’s Laboratory, and Codename: Kids Next Door. Some of us enjoyed Nickelodeon and their programs, such as Rugrats, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Fairly Odd Parents, and Danny Phantom. Some loved Disney Channel and their shows, like Lizzie McGuire, Hannah Montana, Kim Possible, and Phineas and Ferb. And others mixed and matched channels.
By about 10 – 11, some kids might find those shows childish and watch to move on to older shows, which can be an issue as many are too inappropriate for children. Tweens might be a common time for kids to get attracted to unsuitable content (or at least was when I was that age).
It’s probably gotten younger over the years as society changed kids’ tastes and how quickly their likes entertainment matured. But there probably isn’t, and never will be, an average age a kid gets attracted to stuff that’s too inappropriate from them and adults have to stop them. It likely varies a lot from as early as 2.5 – 3 years old and as late as young teens. That’s another topic, though.
By early teens, 13 – 14, depending on their parents or guardians’ rules, some may outgrow all kids shows as they are ready for PG-13 content, such as occasional swearing. At 15 – 17, a kid may be interested in R-rated movies. Parents might deny those films them at the younger end of that range. By 18, they may be ready for a purely mature taste in entertainment.
But that’s just an example based on psychological development as well as the individual’s environment and taught mindsets. In fact, many kids and adults do not follow that expected standard. I most definitely didn’t want to. Sometimes, I got to follow my tastes my way – yet, I’d still be insecure about it.
In fact, during my youth, I was constantly being judged by others. Worse, I was being pressured to “grow up.”
As early as 10, I was taught that I was too old for family-appropriate movies. For instance, I was that same age when I saw the movie Home on the Range in the theaters. Six months later, I wanted to get it on DVD. But my mom was shocked and said I was too old. I was in sixth grade then, and I was really annoyed. She was treating like it was geared toward early childhood and was as young as “Teletubbies.”
At 11, I was told I was too old for Rugrats (the spin-off didn’t matter in this case). At 12, I was told I was too big for Waffle Boy games (based of the Waffle Crisp cereal) and The Fairly Odd Parents. At 13, I was told I was too old for Happy Feet and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – the film.
For years I would believe that. I would even avoid many Disney movies because I was “too big.” It wasn’t until young adulthood I revisited my childhood cartoons and stopped considering myself too old for them.
I wish I didn’t have to live with that embarrassment for years. I would either avoid them like the plague, or watch them secretly, but insecurely. But I never should’ve had to.
In fact, many of my peers then enjoyed clean TV shows and movies such as anime and even Nick JR. I’m not kidding. Because of what I was taught, I would tell other kids they were too old for shows like Dora the Explorer. They were unhappy.
If only my family had empathized with me and understood that I did NOT choose to like the “childish” entertainment forms. Instead, they treated it like it was at least as bad as watching something inappropriate. It is not.
While there are negative psychological effects if a young person watches something inappropriate, there is no such impact for watching something you’re “too old” for.
Yes, children need to be taught what behaviors they are too big for. But they should get to watch what they love as long as it’s appropriate. And adults can watch anything, including clean entertainment.
It’s okay to love something that others believe are geared toward younger children. Just because something is clean and has no mature content, that doesn’t mean it’s only for little kids. Older kids and adults deserve the right to watch what appeals to them.
You should be able to watch something, regardless of rating or cleanliness—with 100% confidence. Don’t let others judge you. In fact, I wish I had never been judged the way I was.
For instance, I used to keep it secret from my peers in middle school that I liked Danny Phantom because I was constantly judged. Now I am confident with watching a clean movie or TV show without someone criticizing me.
Don’t be afraid to walk into a bar with a “Mickey Mouse” shirt. Don’t be afraid to go into a casino with a “Shrek” tattoo in a visible area. It’s all right to love The PowerPuff Girls at 25 years old. It’s fine to love The Fairly Odd Parents at 30. And it’s more than acceptable to be passionate about Ice Age at 60.
I have abandoned all the pressures to outgrow my likes for clean entertainment. I am never too old for what I like.
Believe it or not, I’d regained interests in shows that I enjoyed in my childhood – just after the Covid-19 pandemic hit. That is because I experienced a form of regression, which can make one feel better during stressful times.
On the bright side, my TV show tastes expanded beyond the few mature cartoons I’d exclusively watch before the world shut down in March 2020. I’ve also picked up on new details or those I’d missed, understood the storylines better – and even picked up on some adult content that glossed over my head when I was a kid.
The only exceptions of entertainment I’ll consider myself too old for are those, such as Barney and Teletubbies, where there is little to no conflict and problems are resolved in very mild way. Those shows were definitely intended for early childhood.
And here’s a bonus fact: many “kid’s” TV shows and movies have jokes or references that only adults could get. Not just those that are technically inappropriate (yet not enough for kids to understand), but also sarcasm or references from movies and shows that older generations are more familiar with. Bee Movie is an example of this.
So remember, love what you love. Don’t be insecure. Don’t let others judge you. Don’t force yourself to stop enjoying something because people say you’re too old. Be who you want to be. And most importantly, who you are.
*This varies a lot, especially in recent years. It’s just an estimate. No two children of the same age are alike in their entertainment tastes.