NPR is running a series on All Things Considered about kids and the media. And each little bit is just making me sick.
The first segment was on Toddlers and Advertising on TV. I've watched a lot less Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon than Disney or PBS, just because of the commercials. Yeah, yeah, teachable moments, blah, blah, blah. But PBS does all their commercials-that-aren't in one fell swoop, making them easy to pass over for a Weather Update, and Disney only advertises more Disney, and largely those commercials are devoted to selling the brand, rather than a product. I find that much less annoying than kids clamoring for some stupid toy that's going to fall apart and not be any fun. Oh, yeah, the excitement wore off the Doodle Bears mighty fast (although the light pen is still popular).
So, I'm all in favor of restrictions on commercials during children's programming. I'm with the story there. And like the report, I have a problem with the licensing of children's show characters, but that's just because they never sell the stuff I want to buy. Forget a Harry Potter action figure, I want to buy a painting with a moving figure in it. Aren't those cool? I don't want Scooby plates, I want Scooby Snacks. Yum yum yum yum yum. I don't want a backpack with Dora's picture on it, I want a backpack just like Backpack, Map and all. And if it can interact with me and produce the contents based on a voice command, all the better, because I always have a hard time finding my keys when they slip down to the bottom.
But the big concern running through these stories is about sexual content. One quote about tweens encapsulates all my annoyance: "But they're exposed to a lot more than they used to be exposed to."
You mean, more than they were exposed to in the 50s when they got married right out of high school and became pregnant immediately, or you know, before?
Or do you mean, more than tweens would know about sex historically, or cross-culturally? The US is very big on kids sleeping in their own rooms, and no boys and girls sharing rooms, and if at all possible, no kids sharing rooms at all. But that's the preference of only a small percentage of humans over less than 200 years of human existence. Most of the children that have ever lived have gone to bed at night in the immediate vicinity of kith and kin who were busily creating more kith and kin. For that matter, most of humanity has a lot of experience with nudity, and very little with privacy.
I just don't get it. Yes, I understand about not wanting ten-year-olds to have sex. But I don't understand about not wanting them to see any naked humans. Nor do I understand why they need to be protected from sexual content. Not that I'm advocating for porn. But what do we even mean when we worry about "Letting an 8-year-old listen to music that's a little sexy"? My daughter doesn't like words written across her clothes any more than I do. But even so, "juicy" or "sweet" is equivalent to "cheer" in her view. It's all equally meaningless in that context. Her world view doesn't seem to include the notion of "a little sexy."
NPR : Monitoring Teens' Media Intake Poses Challenges
"But you'll probably also find things that would make the most liberal parents cringe, such as one Internet-based animated game allowing players to sexually humiliate a popular singer."Abracaduh. I simply can't imagine it's possible for even the most devoted parents to monitor their kids' worlds. I find the suggestion rather creepy. My kids are going to interact with other kids, they're going to visit other people's homes, they're going to encounter all kinds of stuff I've never considered in school, in camp, at birthday parties. Is it really my job to micromanage their brains? Where do people get this notion that they must protect their children from words and ideas? And how do they reconcile that with their idea of "liberal"? [Me, I'm still pissed at Tipper Gore. I love Al, keep up the good work, I'll elect you again in a heartbeat.] But the contents of song lyrics are hardly the biggest threat facing our children. I don't think that a game based on sexually humiliating a popular singer is a good idea, but then again, I didn't think gobbling up little dots and ghosts was such a good idea either.