Last week I was listening to a broadcast on my local NPR station and an executive from RadioDisney was being interviewed.  It piqued my interest for a number of reasons: I’ve never listened to RadioDisney because we don’t have satellite radio, but I’m curious about what kind of music is aired on it; I’ve got kids in the demographic they target (ages 6-12); and my Safe Kids coalition has done some research on kids and the radio and this broadcast got me thinking about that.

We certainly used to be huge Disney Channel fans, way back when Rolie Polie Olie and Stanley were *the* thing.  My ds tried to drag out his crush on the Disney Channel with Handy Manny until I convinced him that really, he was much to old at age 7 to be watching that particular show; however, Hannah Montana and High School Musical just were not his style, lol.  My 6 yr old dd could probably very easily be convinced that Hannah Montana is cool, but I’m not sure I’m willing to go there yet.  So my initial opinions of RadioDisney is that it’s all HM and HSM, but the executive tonight was saying that it’s not–it’s actually geared towards mom too!  They play U2 and other more palatable music as well because, well, somebody has to drive the kidmobile to soccer practice without losing their rice cakes and Diet Coke.

Great, fine, dandy.  But I gotta tell you that when I drive, um, usually I’m in charge of what we listen to, not the kids.  Oh, I do take requests, but I’m the final authority (remember, we always have to keep the driver happy, :D).  My Safe Kids coalition has found that control of the radio plays a big role in why kids start sitting in the front seat.  Really?  Say it isn’t so!  Just to control the push buttons?!  We’re willing to reduce our child’s rate of survival in a crash by 34% just so he can control the radio?  Oh man, there’s something wrong there.  I don’t think we’re getting the message out well enough.

Some booster seats actually have headphones built right in, like the Recaro Start.  There’s a cord that goes down the back of the seat that allows an MP3 player or video game or DVD player to be plugged in so the child can hear it.  I think Recaro is on to something there.

Perhaps manufacturers can help by running more headphone wires through the safety seats to the head restraints.  That way kids can listen to their own music on their own MP3 players in their boosters, mom can listen to her own music and everyone is happy and safely restrained.  Of course, that doesn’t leave RadioDisney very happy ;), but this is a much safer alternative to having kids under age 13 (read the sun visor folks–that’s the minimum age vehicle manufacturers say it’s safe to sit in the front seat and we know minimums and safety don’t really mix that well) sitting in the front seat so they can control the radio.  I wonder how big a selling point high back boosters would be to older kids if they had speakers built into the head restraints?  Hmmm.  Something to ponder.