My husband and I like to watch a TV show at dinnertime. Till quite recently, our daughter was too young to care about, or understand what we were watching. She would just play with her toys and talk to her grandma on the phone or do coloring. But off late I have noticed, her paying some attention, to TV shows we watch.
Naturally we had to start being more careful, so she would no be disturbed by the content of our TV shows. Violence seemed the most disturbing to us, so we tried to avoid shows, with much violence in them, in her presence.
But with time we realized there were two types of violence. One that has strong emotional impact and another action/adventure/cartoon type of violence. Kids react quite differently to these two types of violence. For example my toddler gets very upset by screaming, crying, frightened voices, or pleading but will barely notice a murderous gunshot or quick whack on the head or a gruesome dead body. This is especially true if she is not actually watching the show but happens to be in the room when it is playing. None of this is surprising, but something to keep in mind, when deciding, what shows to watch with children in the room.
One thing that did surprise me, however, was how much my daughter cares for fictional characters that are babies. I can see that she identifies with them, but I did not anticipate the extent of her sympathy for them. If a baby on TV is even mildly sick, or cries for a feed, she gets upset. Even if she is not watching the TV, she is quick to notice the appearance of a baby, and is very concerned with the well being of the baby. Adults can be shot, or fall off horses or planes and she wont even notice but the baby so much as sneezes and I will be plagued with questions like "When will the baby be okay mama? Why is she crying? Is she better now? Why aren't they giving her a medicine?" in a tearful voice.
In case of my daughter, she cares as much about cats too. One day my mother let her watch Tom and Jerry and she got really upset. She could not bear to see, how much Tom was suffering, and she cried bitterly. The reason for this is, we have a pet cat at home and my daughter loves cats. It never occurred to my mom, that a cartoon like Tom and Jerry could upset her grand daughter so deeply.
So we have crossed all TV shows with cats and babies, off our list to watch, when our daughter is in the room. We reserve those for when she visits her grandparents. And, of course, no more Tom and Jerry!
Almost a year later ... Now my daughter is 4 and the problem still persists.