What this Christian learned from Nick Jr.

by Joe Fontenot in Parenting

Nick Jr

Photo Credit: Dylan Fagan from here via CC.

Nick Jr is a TV channel aimed at kids aged 2-6.

Years back, marketers learned the value of selling to kids.  Cereal became a Saturday morning cartoon.  And then by Saturday afternoon at the grocery, kids are tossing their favorite cartoon-cereal—which is low enough for them to pick up themselves—into the grocery shopping cart, and poor moms are too spent to fight another battle.  Marketing is bad.

But Nick Jr doesn’t do that.  Be it the shouting-instead-of-talking words of Dora the Explorer or good ‘ole Peter Rabbit, Nick Jr spends their time giving back to moms.

Here’s what I mean.

1.  Their shows are mesmerizing.

My little boy, Graham, watches them like he’s asleep with his eyes open.  I’m not sure that’s a good thing for him.  But they’re certainly not losing his attention.  And for what it is, that’s important.

2.  They don’t have transitions.

Well, they do.  But they do them so well that it feels like one continuous stream.  That’s because they don’t farm out their in-between time to just any third-party with lots of dollars.  They do most of it themselves with the same animation and characters that are already in their shows.

3.  The commercials are actually there.

The commercials they do air, are careful and sparse.  And they’re at the end of the show, not in the middle.  When they air a commercial, it relates directly either to the kids or to the moms.

Graham and I watch a few cartoons together early on most Saturday mornings.  And it dawned on me one day—Nick Jr is doing what what followers of Christ should be doing.

Commercials are the lifeblood of the network.  Internally the network takes them very seriously.  But they also understand (externally) that the viewers don’t.  They don’t, that is, unless they are given a reason to.  And that’s what Nick Jr is doing.  They’re giving their viewers a reason to take commercials seriously.

The Christian is the same way.  Internally Jesus means everything.  But standing on a Bourbon Street corner with a bullhorn is hardly an effective way to show love.  Sure, there might be some truth there.  But the message of love doesn’t work apart from the actions of love.  I wrote a bit about this here.

Jesus’ was a life of giving.  He did not wait to see who would follow him, he just began healing.  And by doing that, the world was “turned upside down.”

The lesson Christians can learn from Nick Jr is this: by serving the world first, the world is more inclined to listen to the truth that we so desperately want them to hear.  When we get that backwards…they just change the channel.


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