TV Shows That Bridge the Sibling Age Gap

One wants Ben 10, the other wants Care Bears. We find the common ground. By Sierra Filucci
TV Shows That Bridge the Sibling Age Gap

My brother and sister are more than a decade younger than me, so they were often running around the living room while I was catching up on Days of Our Lives. Luckily they didn't pay much attention to the travails of Bo and Hope. But most siblings are closer in age, and if one kid is watching TV, the other is sure to join in.

So how do you find shows that mixed-aged kids will enjoy watching, but are still age appropriate for the younger ones? It's a challenge for sure, and families often find themselves pushing the younger sibling into uncomfortable territory -- or subjecting older kids to boring stuff.

There's really no perfect way to do this, but, like a lot of parenting advice, the best stuff often comes from asking around and learning what other parents do.

I turned to our online community, and asked folks on Twitter and Facebook for their faves for bridging the age gap. As usual, Common Sense users had great suggestions for shows that older and younger kids can all enjoy. Using your great picks, plus some of my own favorite titles, I created a list of TV shows I think are great choices for multi-age viewing. Click through the images below to get more suggestions from our community:

Please add your own picks in the comments, along with your kids' ages. Tell us what bridges the age gap in your family. And please follow me on Twitter!

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About Sierra Filucci

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Sierra is a journalist with a special interest in media and families. She has a master's degree in journalism from the University of California at Berkeley, and she's been writing and editing professionally for more... Read more

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Comments (13)

Parent written by Carmichael

Boys, 12 and 8. Netflix has been a godsend. My husband has had fun ordering DVDs of his old childhood favorites like Rat Patrol and F-Troop. Not the most politically correct from a woman's point of view, but the boys like the boy stuff.
Parent of a 8 and 12 year old written by fancytwill

I have boys that are 8 & 12, the older one is a little goofy, so he doesn't mind a little younger stuff. I've discovered MEtv ( to find out if it's in your area) and they run all the shows I grew up on, so I DVR Beverly Hillibillies, I Dream of Jeannie, Star Trek, etc. I bought the complete set of Gilligan's Island which they BEG to watch. All the old shows have issues with stereotypes, which is what I trade in for today's content that is too fast, scary, and can be plain mean. We watch Amazing Race and Survivor as a family. Any minute now we'll be watching Dr. Who, maybe this summer, all the middle school kids are hooked.
Adult written by SLPmom

12 yo and 9 yo girls - love the old show: Full House! It brings back memories for us. Ditto on the H20 and Good Luck Charlie shows. America's Funniest Videos is another good one.
Parent of a 5 and 9 year old written by hawchoo

Boy age 9 & girl age 5 They both love Ruby Gloom, Phineas & Ferb and My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic (we're a whole family of bronies).
Adult written by Scarsdale mom

We like "The Middle" on ABC. We have an almost 12-year-old boy, a 10 year old girl, and an almost 8-year-old boy. They relate to the teenage boy in high school, the girl in middle school and the boy in elementary school. We also relate to all the squabbling and chaos and lack of perfectness, so we all actually feel better about our own family!
Adult written by Graham Cox

How on earth can you not mention the Simpsons!! At 1 our son loved the moving colours. At five, he adores it , even if he understands only 80 %. We love it even with the US culture inculcation*. They brilliantly work in adult jokes that kids will not understand to make it sharp. It introduces child concerns, such as bullying, and adult concerns that the young must get used and understand the proper moral stance but in such a way that does not upset children. For example not caring for a grandparent, adult jealousy / avarice and the failings of some authority figures ( police corruption) so the child does not grow up naive as I did . Graham Cox in the UK PS Yes, Dr Who is frightening for young children as it frightened me in the 60s , cowering behind the sofa at about 10 to avoid the Daleks, but did no harm. *The only exception for all the above re US culture is the truly frightening glorification and then commercialisation of the pagan Halloween ( and in such a Christian country). Please bring back All Souls Day and visit your relatives in the churchyard/crematorium as Christians in developing countries do.
Parent of a 5, 10, and 12 year old written by JennTheGamerMom

The Sarah Jane Adventures - the Doctor Who spinoff for younger kids. Popular in our house with kids from 5 through 12.
Adult written by Hot Fuss

My teenager loves Regular Show: it's one of the most sexual cartoons I've seen in a while. So does my four-year old, because he thinks drunk birds and raccoons are cool. Luckily, he didn't get any of the masturbation jokes in the previous episode, although the gun violence was pretty shocking, using M4, RPG-7 and GAU-19 gatling gun. The stripper episode pushed it up though, and I didn't let him watch that one, or the nude Pops one.
Kid, 11 years old

Early Little House on the Prairie is actually really good. If you are 9,7,10,11,and older you will enjoy it. Zabomafoo is a great one to watch in the morning though not sure if it comes on.
Teen, 15 years old written by LtCentaur

I'm still a kid, but I think coming up with a list is easy considering I have brothers older than me by a few years. We watched a lot of shows like Scooby-Doo, The Looney Tunes, and other great things that used to air on Cartoon Network when we were younger. But a show called Doctor Who, made in the U.K., has become very popular in the United States as of late. I've noticed the review on here warns that it may be too scary for kids under the age of eight, but I don't think that's entirely true. I've seen a lot of six year old and under talk about the show and why they like it. Some scares now and then are a good thing.
Adult written by Regan McMahon

My kids had a phase of watching SmackDown professional wrestling together when they were in elementary school. I was horrified, but it remains one of their fondest memories -- they loved talking about personalities like The Undertaker at times when they weren't watching. They were savvy enough to know it was fake but they still loved it. And it gave my daughter, three years younger, a "sport" to follow with her big brother. The also used to watch Survivor together -- actually, we watched that as a family. A lot of lessons about human nature in that one!


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