To investigate my peer’s feelings and emotions towards their childhood television memories I conducted an online survey that received 25 responses, as well as five one-on-one discussions. The information provided by 30 individuals, all of whom watched children’s television at a similar time to myself allowed me to analyse how they felt about the shows they watched then; if the shows were similar to the ones I watched; how they feel about the shows now and what they remember of television as a child.
In the survey I named 30 children’s shows I would watch on free to air television between the ages of 4 and 8 and asked participants to select any of the shows they remember. Some television shows, such as Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, King, The Busy World of Richard Scarry, George and Martha and Tutenstien received as little as 2 – 4 people recognising that they watched the show. More popular titles included Spongebob Squarepants, The Wild Thornberries, Rugrats, The Magic School Bus, Madeline, Catdog and Arthur, which 18 – 21 respondents remember watching.
It surprised me that only 8% of respondents (2 people) remember watching George and Martha, a hilarious show about two cartoon hippopotamus’, while 72% (18 people) watched The Magic School Bus; an educational entertainment that I never enjoyed quite as much. I wonder if some of the shows people don’t recall is due to their lack of memory for the title. It is possible if they were to hear the show intro or see pictures of the title characters that the participants would have their memory stimulated and be more likely to remember.
This theory is already backed up by my one-on-one chats with my peers, who were able to name significantly less TV shows that they remember, due to the fact that no titles were given to them as a prompt.
When asked ‘Do you remember the theme songs to any children’s television shows?’ Most respondents answered between 1 and 5 songs, the stand out response was one participant who remembered 8 theme tunes.
This surprised me again, I can remember the theme songs for at least 50 different shows I watched as a child. Although it had got me thinking, if I wasn’t doing this research and was asked similar questions, would I be able to recall as many shows and theme tunes as I do? Probably not quite as many, but still significantly more than most of my respondents.
In my survey and interviews I asked my peers whether they have watched their favourite children’s shows in the last year or so, 48% of survey participants said that they had and 1/5 interviewees had watched the entire series of their favourite childhood television show in the last year. All respondents either watched the show online or on television (as opposed to DVD/VHS).
I asked survey respondents and my interviewees if they had any rituals as a child watching television. Many of them had similar answers such as, ‘waking up as early as possible on a Saturday to watch Saturday Disney’, ‘Saturday Disney was my favourite because we didn’t have Austar’, ‘Watching Cheez TV every morning’, ‘Waking up early to watch Cheez TV but having to have the volume low and sit really close to the TV because my family was still sleeping’, ‘Rollercoaster every afternoon on ABC’ and ‘Watching Play School as soon as I got home from school’. Two respondents who made me laugh said they were so eager to get up for Cheez TV that they would turn the TV on early and ‘had to watch old ladies doing Yoga’. Upon googling this to verify the information, I found the image to the right and realised this actually happened to me on a number of occasions. I had completely forgotten this fact until I found the image (I remember the ladies and the location of the morning Yoga.)
Almost every respondent was able to name a television ritual they took part in as a child, my flaw in surveying is that I should have asked if they still partake in rituals now, as adults. Although I did not gather this information to compare then and now, it was interesting to see so many of my peers took part in very similar TV rituals to myself.
The last thing I was interested in learning about were my peer’s favourite television memories. One person listed ‘Saturday night, family night’ as a favourite memory, where the whole family would gather to watch a movie together, another mentioned they enjoyed going to the video shop to rent their favourite shows on DVD and a third remembered watching Yu-Gi-Oh with their brother in the morning before school and then playing cards together after school. These memories show both strong feelings towards television memories and also that television was able to assist in bonding with family. An interviewee delved further into this sense of bonding, saying that she and her sister would get so excited for Thursdays because their favourite shows were on and that to this day they still sing the theme songs to their Thursday favourites together.