When did children's television decide that children were assholes?


Remember when children's programming was educational? I mean it was entertaining, for kids. At the same time though there were bits of reading and writing, history and science, math and other subjects. Sometimes they were carefully snuck in so you wouldn't notice them but they were there.

There are still a few shows like that; Magic School Bus and the Kratt Brothers come to mind. Sesame Street is still educational sometimes, when they're not busy reminding you how cute Elmo is.

Most children's programming though, if it teaches anything at all, teaches social more moral lessons. The basic, recurring theme is 'don't be a dick'. The message takes a variety of forms: Don't take things that aren't yours; Don't exclude your friends; Don't hit people; Don't be mean to animals; Don't prejudge people; but the basic message is 'don't be a dick'.

It's not just one show that spreads this message - Arthur, My Little Ponies, the Care Bears, Curious George, Daniel Tiger, Dinosaur Train, Thomas the Tank Engine, Peep and the Big Wide World, Mike the Knight, Bubble Guppies and dozens more.

When did this happen? When did we decide that reminding kids, over and over again, not to be a dick was the most important thing?

Has there been some new research that says that children are assholes by nature and need constant reminders not to eat their playmates? If there has, is there no one who can figure out a way to say that 2+2=4, cat is spelled C-A-T, the stars in the sky are other suns and also don't be a dick all within the 20-30 minutes given to each show?

Given our current state of scientific and technological advancement, combined with repeated studies showing that people's knowledge of current events, not to mention history and economics, is sketchy at best. Shouldn't we be taking every opportunity to teach? At what point did programming aimed at small children stop being educational and whose idea was it?
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