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Protecting our Children’s Innocence

December 3rd, 2007 / 4 Comments

I learn a lot about parenting from my kids. I often ask for their advice.

I asked my 18-year-old daughter why she thinks some of the teenagers at school are precocious while others are not.

She had a good answer: What kids watch on TV influences their behavior.

As I walk around the junior high school, I am appalled at young teenagers so “adult” in the way they dress and act. I hear sixth graders talking about their “boyfriends.” Even elementary school kids talk about dating.

As my daughter says, TV has a large influence on how our children are growing up. That is no surprise. But now we are seeing that much of what is on TV have adult-themes even though they are seemingly innocent sitcoms. While we laugh along at the funny jokes, we are being influenced by remarks made about who is sleeping with who. Are these the kind of values we want to bring into our homes?

The High School Musical is so popular now, along with many of those types of shows targeted at young audiences. While the content is about teenagers in high school, they are most popular with younger teens and elementary school age children. They are watching shows not really appropriate for their age, thus influencing them to grow up faster than they should.

When my 12-year-old watch sitcoms on the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon , I sit and watch with her to see what she is being taught. Of course the messages of the media are very subtle. They do not “teach” values, but our children “catch” the subtle influences. In those family sitcoms, the adult figures are often portrayed as idiots – the clueless teacher, the stiff old-fashioned principal, the bumbling dad. On the other hand, the kids are cute, witty and portrayed as the hero when they skirt around the authority figure. What are these images teaching our children?

I sat and watched The High School Musical and High School Musical 2. It was a rather painful experience! Since they are definitely not aimed at my age, I found them totally boring and silly. I encourage parents to sit through some of these shows. It is one of the best ways to connect with our children and see what our children are facing in their world. It gives us some understanding so we will know how to counteract what is being taught in these shows. Even if your children do not watch these shows, you can be sure that they hear about it at school, and no doubt some of their friends are being influenced by it. It will rub off on our kids. When you watch these teen shows, be forewarned to bring your knitting or something to keep yourself from sleeping through the shows.

I have to admit, the characters in these TV shows are very likable. They are cute and talented. The music is quite good. When our children see the characters wear such cute clothes and the young girls wear lots of make-up, they cannot help but want to be like these beautiful people they see on the screen. We as adults compare our bodies with celebrities too, don’t we, and find ourselves wanting?? How much more easily influenced are our children. The actors on TV act like adults, which of course is appropriate for them; that is their job in that role. But in the real world, girls should not wear make-up in the early teens and should not have all that drama will boyfriends and girlfriends.

It is easy for our children to develop a materialistic outlook from watching these shows. When my daughter want to shop at expensive brand name stores and get the latest styles, I understand where she is coming from. I have to redirect her focus. We don’t need to keep up with the Jones’ and have the proper labels. Let’s not fall into that materialistic trap.

Watching too much “teenager” types of shows fuels the desire for our children to want to act like adults before their time.

It’s time to turn the channel.

We opt for educational shows like Myth-Busters, the cooking channel and Jeopardy!

What is your opinion? What TV shows do you allow or not allow?

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  1. It’s so true. We’ll sit down and watch a sit-com on TV without thinking too much about the more subtle messages that get through.

    When we are not purposefully being sensitive to age-appropriateness of the content, it’ll pass right under our radar and we wonder where our kids get these ideas from.

    It’s sad to see parents think it’s cute for their kids to have boyfriend/girlfriends at a young age and not realize the dangers involved.

  2. An insightful comment, Michael. We have to intentionally counteract what our children are getting from the society.

  3. […] I try to keep my children’s innocence as long as possible by not exposing them to the media that shows young girls dressing and acting […]

  4. Thanks for the link. It’s tireless work, and you’ve been at it three times longer than I have. Good job.


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