Time for a parenting post from the archives. The following was originally posted on my personal blog on May 29, 2008, when I had two young kids in elementary school. (Wow! I can’t believe it’s been that long!) Figured it was worthwhile to repost for anyone who is now navigating the role of media influence on kids in that elementary age group…
My kids sometimes complain because I am pretty particular about what they watch and listen to. In fact, they don’t watch live TV at all. Instead, they watch TIVOd shows like The Brady Bunch, I Love Lucy, and Little House on the Prairie. Seriously. My kids are normal kids, except they don’t watch the supposed “wholesome” shows on The Disney Channel and network TV.
Don’t get me wrong — there are *some* good shows being produced today. I do allow my girls to watch American Idol (once they are through with the auditions) because I think it is a good “slice of real life” in that there are people who win and people who don’t win. And thankfully, everyone (so far) has accepted their fate quite graciously on AI. They also love The Magic School Bus (which is a great educational show on PBS). And then there’s… um…
The rest of the shows that my girls’ friends watch tend to focus on dating relationships. My oldest is almost 9 and I asked her, “are you ready to start dating?” Thankfully she replied, “no way mom!” Well, that settled it. She doesn’t need to watch shows about “how to snag a guy” or “how to get him to kiss you” or anything similar.
Movies are the same… we don’t need to see a movie just because everyone else is (gosh, when did I start to sound like my parents?!). I took a lot of flak from other parents because I didn’t allow my girls to watch the Shrek movies. I read reviews of popular movies (and more reviews) before going to the theater, and the reviews of the Shrek movies discussed how much “potty talk” was used. I have enough trouble getting my kids to use nice words, why add more potty talk to their vocabulary? The way I see it, movies and TV are basically fluff… they are not necessities required for my kids to grow up happy and healthy.
But if a good one comes along, we’ll be there! Our favorite series thus far has been the National Treasure series. It’s the first big screen movie series our whole family can enjoy. [You might say, “wait — there’s lots of violence in those movies” and you’d be right. But the type of violence shown in these movies is more akin to what I watched as a kid in Bugs Bunny, and is therefor not a problem for us.]
Anyway, back to the title of this post… I heard about a father whose kids wanted to watch a popular movie that was rated PG-13. The kids made a list of all the pros (everyone’s seeing it, top-notch actors, award-winning, etc.) and the cons (only 3 swear words, minimal violence, sex is off-camera, etc.). To illustrate his point, the father made a batch of special brownies and told the kids they could see the movie if they could eat the brownies without being affected by the cons.
You see the brownies were made with top-notch ingredients and an award-winning recipe, but there was just 3 tbsp. of dog poop added. He mixed it really well and baked it at 350 degrees, so hopefully you won’t notice that little bit of crap… This illustration may be a little far fetched for some folks. But why expose my kids to crap if I don’t have to? Thanks to TIVO and about a zillion TV stations, I can tailor my kids’ media intake to be exactly what they need (without any added crap).