In between overdoing it

Posts tagged ‘violance’

Why Are Adult Themes In Kids Shows?

Why Are Adult Themes In Kids Shows?TV as Teacher

I am not sure how to begin this post. I know the words I am about to write will probably be misinterpreted by some and judged harshly by others but it is the way I feel at this moment. My daughter is 9, my son is 6. Tonight while watching a cartoon they have watched several times before. The story line went in a different direction. The two young characters in the show began talking about how one of the character’s Dad’s were going to have a baby. I thought I misheard it but I hadn’t they said Dad’s, as in 2 fathers.

My daughter promptly changed the channel. My son, not understanding the reference, asked her why she turned the channel. She got upset and left the room. I inquired with my daughter if she understood what they meant by two Dad’s. She said “yes, it meant boy’s liking boy’s…they were gay.” She said the show made was strange. I asked her to explain and she added it wasn’t something that she could explain. Sensing her confusion, I sat her down and tried to probe her further.

When did she first hear about someone who was gay? She said it was in a book or a show somewhere. Since I was unclear how the idea was presented I explained to her gay people are not bad, it is just part of who they are. It is nothing to feel weird about. They are just another form of a family. She seemed to understand the concept of “gay” better when I put it this way.

I recognize for a child who has knowns little to nothing about sexuality yet, the concept of being homosexual can be confusing. Most kids her age are not mature enough to understand what being “gay” means.  That is why I wish TV had not been the vehicle to introduce it.

Sex and violence in a kids movie?

Although the TV show did bring up something I would have addressed with her at some point anyway. I had to wonder why adult themes seem to be seeping into children’s shows? This is not the first time references to sex, sexuality and violence were blatantly broadcast in something made for children. Over Halloween, we attempted to watch the movie “Frankinweenie” and the boy in the movie actually says “sex and violence” within the first 5 minutes.

I know a lot was made about the “gay moment” in Beauty and the Beast but my concern is (from what I hear) the adult themes spread all over the movie. Far more overt then the “gay moment,” there are sexual innuendo and heightened violent scenes. Now I am not saying the makers of the film need to change their movie. By why not change the rating? Movies have gone from PG to PG-13 for less.

Skewing the demographics

Why does Hollywood seem to be hell bent on teaching children about adult themes before they are ready? Over the past year TV and movies have been much more lenient with what is allowed in a PG rating. Children’s channels previously free from overt violence and sexuality, like the Disney channel, are putting out adult like content such as their new show, Andi Mack, in which a teen girl discovers her older sister is actually her mother.

Why is this on a channel watched primarily by 2 to 11 year olds? Wouldn’t a show like this be more appropriate on a channel like Freeform or even Disney XD, which is geared towards teens?

From what I have read the reason for these adult theme children’s shows is the idea that children today are growing up faster and are looking for more “grown-up” storylines.” Sorry, I don’t by it. I think there is a  pressure on kids to grow up too fast and a lot of it comes from Hollywood and the media. These themes are being introduced more frequently in areas previously thought to be “kid-friendly.”

Not ready for prime time

They are coming up in shows and movies well before these kids are full equip, mentally and emotionally to

When I saw this graphic I was shocked. Had no idea something so violent was rated for a 14 year old viewer.

understand concepts like extreme-violence, teen pregnancy and sexual orientation. How could a 5-year-old be asking for shows with more adult theme like teen pregnancy when they don’t understand (and shouldn’t yet) what sex is?

The other prevailing school of thought is, we are only exposing children to something they will learn about anyway? So eventually they will learn about concepts like sexual abuse, drug addiction and murder. Should we be showing those images to a 5-year-old as well?

Some reading this post will think I am being overprotective, restrictive and even a bit of a homophobic. But I have talked to gay and straight parents about this. Many agree it is not so much the topic as the timing it is being introduced. For a teen questioning their sexuality or a 15-year old who is exposed to teen pregnancy, these are appropriate themes for a more mature time of life.

According to Dr. Meg Meeker, pediatrician and author,  “Talking to a child about sex when he is too young can be traumatizing, so parents must use their instincts and best judgement to take the cues and know when to begin talking to their kids about sex, letting them take the lead in their own time.”

TV time became a habit

I will admit this exposure by TV is also something of my own making. Most moms have done what I have. Put on Dora the Explorer for an hour when they were toddlers, so you can take a shower. But that has translated into TV become a daily part of family life.

Although, I am not happy about the adult themes popping up in shows made for young children. Family time is not about watching TV. It is about spending time together. I gave the content control over when I did this and let TV be the teacher. TV’s reference to a gay couple should not have been what prompted a discussion into differing family units and lifestyles. It should have been a more positively framed talk at a more mature, appropriate time.

By sitting them in front of the TV while I was on the computer or doing dishes, I created a habit. My responsibility and duty to preserve their innocence was given to Disney Channels and Cartoon Network producers. Blindly trusting them to keep the content safe and age-appropriate.

It is my job, not TV’s

In truth, they own me nothing. They do not know my kids and what they are ready for. Their goal is to produce shows they think people will watch and advertisers will buy into. It is my job to make sure the content is right for my children.

Still I don’t understand what the big push is to turn children into mini adults.  I know at some point I will have to have “the talk,” with my kids. When we I don’t want them to feel like they can not share their feelings with me because of something they saw on TV.

So for now, I will let my kids stay innocent just a while longer.  Adult life will come soon enough, quicker if Hollywood has their way. And when they are ready, and have questions. My kids can look to me to explain things…instead of learning it from TV.

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Moderating Cartoon Violance

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The other day I went to pick up my children from school and was greeted with a note. Not a “Hi, How was your day,” kind of note. No it was more like” Your child committed an act of violence and slapped another child in the face,” Kind of note. Not good….I was horrified. My sweet little baby. Hit another kid? Why? What the heck? After determining that the other kids did nothing aggressive to warrant my son’s reaction, I had a long talk with my son and dolled out the appropriate punishment.

The next day he apologized to the child and everything seemed ok. However, I could not shake the feeling that my son learned this behavior from somewhere. Other than the occasional spanking (Yes, I spank my kids when necessary!) I could not think of where this behavior could be coming from.

Then it occurred to me. In recent weeks we have been watching a cartoon that shows a bit more violence then most of the other ones we watch. I questioned this at first, but figured he understood it was not real and I did not really think about it again. However, the uptick in his hands-on, aggressive behavior has coincided with the family watching this new show.  Now I wonder how much has this cartoon violence really effected my son?

cartoon%20violence

An article on the Psychology Today website refers to a study in Pediatics during 2013,

The outcomes (of the study) are striking, though perhaps not surprising. Very young children immersed in pro-social and non-violent cartoons after six months are more sociable children. The kids left to watch violent cartoons manifest more often early signs of aggression,” writes George Drinka M.D

However, not everyone agrees that there is a direct correlation between violent behavior and violence in cartoons. Everyone remembers growing up watching Bugs Bunny. This did not cause an undue amount of violence in children back then. Many researcher believe that amount of violence and type of animation has changed how children are viewing cartoon violence today. In addition, other factors such as socio-economics, socialization and family influence mitigate the effects of violent cartoon images.

According to Australian parenting expert Michael Grose  age of the child is also a big factor.

Children younger than seven have trouble differentiating what’s real and what’s not,” says Michael Grose. “From eight to 10, they like the idea of scarier and more violent movies – zombies, for example – but physical harm and gore is still too much for them. Early teens however, “love to be scared out of their wits”, not so much with images but with tension and music. Older teens can handle suspense and dramatic build-up.” (Quote from article on Australian website SchoolAtoZ)

After considering this I do feel that my 5 year old doesn’t seem to understand that violence is a real thing and can hurt others. He sees it in a cartoon and thinks it is a game, something used for laughs.

It seems however, the research community does not have a consistent message regarding the results of TV violence but after a few weeks of switching to less violent program I can see a difference in my son. Maybe when he gains the maturity and better understanding of the results of violent, we can broaden our cartoon repertoire.

For now I feel I let things slip.We cannot depend on advisory ratings and cartoons made for adults but marketed for kids lul us into a false sense of security. When we let our guard down we expose our children to images they are not ready for. Just because it’s called “Cartoon Network” doesn’t mean it is for kids.

It is hard for me to admit I was not a vigilant as I should have been. I get it now. If we don’t teach our children, TV will force them to grow up before they are ready, turn them into consumers before they have understanding, and introduce them to themes they lack the maturity to comprehend.

 

 

 

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