What are your kids watching?
Kids are always pressuring their parents to watch the latest action movie or romantic comedy. “Come on mom,” they say, “everyone has seen it. It’s fine!” What will your children be viewing? How do these films influence youngsters? How will these images impact their behavior?
These new movies are often advertised with “G” rated trailers, so it’s difficult to know exactly what‘s in them. Pre-teens want to watch movies made for teens, and teens want to watch the “R” rated movies that older kids are watching. Youngsters want to be “older” and “cooler”.
Thoughtful parents are nervous. They should be.
There is growing evidence that these images viewed by children, have a substantial impact on the sensitive and receptive minds of youngsters. Action movies that are rated “PG” may have scores of deaths, sanitized murders--- machine guns blazing with no blood showing. But what are the consequences of watching these movies? Youngsters may become desensitized to violence, thinking that violence is like a “cartoon“. Younger children, whose minds are more concrete, may become frightened.
Many romantic comedies have graphic sexual content or innuendo. In order to qualify for “PG” status, body parts may be covered. But everyone can see what is going on. Pre-teens may simply want to mimic what they saw in the movie. It may look harmless to them--but are they ready for the emotions and complexities that surround sexual expression? Do you want your pre-teens and teens experimenting with sexual relationships? Do you want them to imitate what they see on the screen?
What can parents do?
Preview the movies that your children want to watch. Look at it through the eyes of a child. What will they see? How will they understand it? How might it impact them? Remember that young children don’t comprehend abstraction. Everything that looks real, is real to them.
Remember, “PG” means use parental guidance! Exercise your parental wisdom. Don’t be afraid to say “no” despite your kids pressure tactics. My children loved to tell us how all the other parents said that it was OK and that we were the only ones that said no (about quite a few things actually). I liked to remind them that they lived with us, not with their friend’s families.
Remember the “big picture” when you are watching those big pictures. Part of our job as parents is to provide limits to our children, so that they will internalize those limits and boundaries as adults. It is difficult to say “no” when everyone else appears to be caving. Teenagers have mastered the art of legal debate ( I have often thought that teens should just be given law degrees. They don’t need to go to law school).
Talk to their friend’s parents about what you feel is appropriate. I know that this is tough, but other parents are often encouraged to be stronger if you make your choices be known. United we stand, divided we fall! Our decisions don’t always have to make sense to our kids. We get to make those tough decisions and take the heat.
It comes with the territory.