Elmo, Big Bird, Bert and Ernie – all staples of PBS kids’ programming. Wholesome entertainment for children, and safe enough so parents don’t have to worry. But what if children can’t pry themselves away?
Doctors have a name for it: PBSD – Public Broadcasting Service Disorder. If your child can’t stop watching PBS Kids programming without exhibiting signs of depression or anxiety, or throwing a non-stop temper tantrum, then he or she may suffer from PBSD.
PBSD was the problem faced by Monica Hall, mother of 7-year-old Peter. “I had just gotten him weaned off ‘Hooked on Phonics,’ and now this. He can’t stop watching PBS Kids shows,” said the frustrated divorcée. “I guess it’s better that than watching those horrible Kardashians or the violence programs, though. Still, I can only take so much Peppa Pig and Sesame Street.”
Monica noticed Peter’s PBSD symptoms during a recent trip into New York City. “We went to see the Radio City Christmas Show,” said Monica. “We walked up from Times Square and Peter spotted one of those life-sized Elmos on one corner and ran up to him. This Elmo was kind of stinky and dirty and his fur was all matted but Peter was happy. When we went to leave, that’s when the trouble started.”
Peter had a tantrum that wouldn’t stop. “It lasted all the way up to Radio City. All the way there people stared at me like I was a bad mother. We got into the lobby and he still wouldn’t quit. I decided to turn around and go back home. It was a horrible day.”
Doctors quickly diagnosed Peter as suffering from PBSD. “Luckily,” said Monica, “the doctor’s office had big wall paintings with all the characters he loves, so we got through the doctor visit all right. That was a lucky break and I cried tears of joy when we walked in and Oscar The Grouch was behind the reception desk.”
Peter’s school called Monica, because his attendance had plummeted. She explained the diagnosis and they sent out a social worker who told Monica as long as Peter was watching PBS, he was receiving the same amount of education – and better quality – than the school was providing.
“Last week we had a storm and the power went out,” said Monica. “That was bad for a couple of hours, but it came back on and things got back to normal, praise Grover.”
Doctors say most kids outgrow PBSD by the time they reach the age of 9. “Things could be worse,” said Monica, but I guess there’s a bright side to all this. He gets to learn, I don’t have to worry about the bullying that goes on in the schools these days, and I can get all my housework and errands done!”