Kids and the media - carried over from another post
I am starting a new post for a subject Arkansasgardenboy brought up on the kids activities post. I thought it deserved its own place. I'll repost his link in a sec, too.
This book was actually the subject of yesterday's Oprah, speaking of media, and the author was the guest. It was very interesting. I was thinking of bringing up the subject for discussion here.
There was another guest on her show yesterday, a family with one 5 y/o son, who say their son watches 60+ hrs of tv/computer/music every week. He has a tv in his room and sleeps with it on all night. The mom said she feeds him 3 meals a day in front of the television. I think Oprah was as speechless as I would have been, JUST DUH, Mom and Dad! They saw it as a problem, but didn't seem to see that they have the power to stop it. Let me teach you to say "No."
Most parenting issues DH and I agree. TV is the one where we differ the most though. We had different upbringing when it comes to TV, so our opinion as adults differs. His parents owned an electronics store, they had every media available. We didn't get a VCR til I was 16. My parents didn't allow much TV, his parents keep one in the dining room. Of course he had on in his room as a child, I wouln't even have dreamed of that!
DH brings up putting TVs in our kids' rooms once in a while, they are 8 and 5. That will happen over my dead body. I'm just not budging on that. He has a tendency to soften the line on what is acceptable viewing, so sometimes when I'm out he'll watch something with the kids that I would not have allowed. Not way over the line, we just interpret the gray areas differently, particularly violence.
I agree that there are some lousy things on TV. However, I don't think we can just sit and point the finger at the media. We all know that profit is the bottom line, it's not like anyone keeps that a secret. It bothers when people say "They are just trying to make money." Well, yeah, are you new here? This is America, free and capitolist and the pros and cons of both. To have our freedoms, we have, to an extent, agreed to the risks. We can't just object with lip service, we have to object with our wallets. So if it bothers me that TV shows, even kids cartoons, are full of violence, sexuality, and commercialism, the people I should really be upset with are the idiot parents to continue to encourage the producers by spending their money on the junk. OK, so the producers of shows 20-30 years ago paid more attention to the censors, they didn't put as risque stuff in the show. That was not a moral decision, no sense of obligation to the sensitivities of viewers. They would have lost sponsors and viewers if they did. It was the bottom line then, just as it is now.
I don't think every program on TV should be acceptable for children. I don't think the writers of things like "Friends" or "Seinfeld" or "Frasier" should be mindful of younger viewers. There are no children on those shows, they are about adult lives, so adult subject matter is fine. Parents should be the one to not expose their children to the programs that are about adult lives.
I have not had trouble finding acceptable shows for my kids to watch. My younger ones enjoy the kids programs on Nick Jr. and PBS. My older son gets completely absorbed in Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, and National Geographic channel. Yeah, I can find a lot of unacceptable things, too. But it's like the grocery store, I can choose to shop in the produce section or I can choose the junk food isle. Also like food choices, the kids choices are set by the example parents set. You can't eat chocolate donuts for dinner while you serve your kids broccoli.
So bottom line, I think it's a parents responsibility to the choices when it comes to media. What is watched, what games are played, and how much time is spent on it. Around our house, it really is like the grocery. I mostly provide the "healthy" choices, but the occasional media version of a chocolate donut is allowed. I don't them in the fridge or pantry without permission, I don't let them turn on the tv or computer without permission. I dont' think it is up to the media, I understand they are not a public service. But I believe if as parents we eliminated the market for some of the junk they make for kids (i.e. Dont' Buy It!) we would influence a change in what is made for kids in media.
I think the biggest problem with the media is the commercialism that goes with some of the movies and programs. They market it to kids by filling the isles with toys and other products for kids. But if it's wrong to do that, it's wrong for parents to buy it. Just because it's there and your kids ask for it doesn't mean you have to buy it! Just like the candy and the checkout. A parent who spends money on that stuff has no right to complain about the media marketing to their children. They should kick themselves for being sucked into it.
In a perfect world, the media would have a moral sense about what they produce and care about the effects it has on children. But since we all enjoy our right to free speech, we have to take the good with the ugly and just be good parents.
It's probably good that I have to go be a soccer mom now so my freedom of speech doesn't go on any longer than it already has. Sorry.