TOPIC: Children and Media
Shelle Edit: Disclaimer ;) -- The opinions expressed here are the views of the writers and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Real World Venus vs. Mars site.
I'm kind of strict when it come to my kids and their exposure to movies and television. When my oldest daughter was about three years old, my ex and I cut the cable and sold our t.v. We went hard core. No more television for us. Neither one of us owns a tv now that we're apart.
Of course, my girls still got to watch DVDs (of our choosing) on the computer, but we were very strict and limited it to no more than an hour a day. Now that they're 5 and 7, I will show them tv episdoes of things like Spongebob and other age-appropriate programs. We will often have "movie night" when it's our Friday night together. |I will admit that they do love going to their grandmother's house to visit. She has a sattelite dish and I loosen up my "tv regulations" a fair bit. After all - it's a special thing they only get to do a few times a year. But honestly? I don't like it so much.
Something I don't compromise on, though, is when it comes to the age-appropriateness of the shows they watch. When I was a kid, my mom allowed me to watch whatever she was watching. I remember being glued to the tv, watching soap operas long before I ever attended school. Sure these programs are on in the middle of the day, but still, they're certainly not appropriate for children. I grew up play-acting some very adult situations - and I blame the evil, evil soaps. I also remember being exposed to some horrific things on the evening news, as well. Things that no child really needs to know about.
I think that there are age recommendations for movies and tv shows for a reason. There's no point in exposing children to images and themes that are over their heads, even if there's nothing "harmful" about them. There wasn't anything particularly harmful about me watching Another World when I was 4 years old...except that it gave me a totally warped view of men, relationships, the roles of women...the list goes on.
I remember once watching a movie with my parents when I young...under 10, I'm sure...about children being molested and murdered. Um...yeah. I'm pretty sure that my parents didn't realize what the movie was about when we started watching it (it was one of those early 80s made-for-tv movies). I continued to have the occasional nightmare about that movie until I was well into adulthood. Thanks, Mom.
Children are impressionable. The things they watch get lodged into their little subconscious brains and who knows exactly how they are processed. I don't want my girls seeing women using their sexuality as weapons, or violent images on the evening news. I'm a big believer in simply allowing kids to be kids, and part of my role as their parent is to protect them from things that might not be quite ready for yet. Am I sheltering them? Possibly. But no child was ever psychologically damaged from the movies and tv programs that they didn't get to watch.
I'm very protective of my kids and what they watch. Of course, I'm also a "dude"...and there may be some things that I may find appropriate to my kids that others will not.
My son turns four this week. He normally watches cartoons like Up (or pretty much ANYTHING by Pixar), Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (I find there are increasingly more non-Pixar movies out there that are really good), or even something like Star Wars: Clone Wars as I believe they are acceptable movies for a toddler his age. And the great thing about these movies are that not only are they entertaining for the child to watch, but there may be parts that make them question the parent (Why is somebody sad? Are those robots the bad guys? What is going on?) and it’s fun to have conversation stimulated BY your child.
Now, he's also watching a lot of non-cartoon movies recently. I try to be a lot more careful with these but he’s watching everything from Star Wars to G-Force. Now I know that there can be some scary scenes… but my feeling was that he was young enough to not quite understand what was going on. Rather, he was just spellbound by the lights and sounds and aliens and talking gerbils. He’s at the point now where I think I can explain certain things to him if he feels the need to question (there were a LOT of questions in Shark Boy & Lava Girl, but he just loves that movie to death).
My daughter is 11 going on 21. On a recent visit (she lives with her mom in another province), she wanted me to get her A Nightmare on Elm Street to watch. I told her that there was no way in hell that I was going to let her watch that. She told me that her mom doesn’t care what she watches. I tried telling her that I DO. I’m sure she’ll watch it now that she’s back home, and I may look like the “meaner” (her word) for not letting her watch it with me, but as a parent I feel it’s my responsibility to make that decision and control what my children watch.
I hate people complaining about the appropriateness of movies and television. I hate people that blame the media for kids watching things that are inappropriate for them. There are enough resources out there (like this one) where other parents can weigh-in and then you, as the parent, can make the decision for yourself.
Parents NEED to take responsibility for what their children watch. Period.
So what do you guys think? How influential are movies with kids? How much should a parent restrict their kids? Does the relationships in movies affect how kids perceive what relationships should be like?