When I see seven year-olds under a captivated trance from their iPhones, my reaction tends to be a mixture of shock and disbelief. Entertainment for today's youth is so readily available that boredom seems to be an issue of the past. There is always something new to discover at the mere touch of a finger. Nearly a decade ago, however, my main source of entertainment was television. Out of all the networks vying for the attention of pre-pubescent children, Disney Channel ranked supreme. I distinctly remember counting down the minutes until a new episode of my latest obsession would air. Back when 9:30 was past my bedtime, I would beg my parents to let me watch just one more episode. But unlike many aspects of my childhood that were ephemeral, I watched my favorite series from their inception to their unfortunate demise. The following shows on Disney Channel imparted knowledge in my young mind that I was incapable of being taught in an academic setting.
"Even Stevens" taught me the importance of acting like a kid as long as I could. Ren, a straight-A student, surpassed Louis, her troublemaker younger brother, with her accomplishments, but Louis always had more fun. The key to Louis' happiness was his unwillingness to grow up. Pranks never stopped being funny.
"Lizzie McGuire" taught me that being popular wasn't as important as staying true to myself. Before Taylor Swift and "New Girl's" Jess popularized quirkiness, Lizzie McGuire cried over unrequited love and tripped in high heels. She often made a fool of herself, but learned to laugh about it.
"That's So Raven"
"That's So Raven" taught me the importance of being upfront with others about my feelings. Raven never sugarcoated the truth. She told people how she felt without regrets or embarrassment.
"The Suite Life of Zack and Cody"
"The Suite Life of Zack and Cody" taught me about the unbreakable bond between family members. Cody, a high-strung academic superstar, seemed to be almost the opposite of his unmotivated, extroverted twin brother Zack. Regardless, they always stuck together. Through thick and thin, they would always have each other's backs.
"Hannah Montana" taught me to never give up on my dreams. Miley Stewart lived the ultimate fantasy: normal teenage girl by day, pop sensation by night. But being a pop star had drawbacks, and she often pondered giving up on fame. In the end, however, she always seemed to find the "best of both worlds."