Nobody has fond memories of their parents stopping them from watching an R-rated movie or taking away music with obscene lyrics, or, maybe worst of all, restricting what books they read.
However, there is no doubt that there are music albums, movies and video games that are not appropriate for children, arguably even through the end of their teenage years.
So where do you draw the line as a parent? Is there an age where you are or were willing to let your kid determine her own boundaries with music and movies and books? Can you raise a kid with good enough judgment to figure this stuff out on her own? And if you do believe some restrictions are needed, how do you go about putting them in place? And how much is too much?
I think it is a bit like garbage in, garbage out. I don’t have to eyewitness or listen to genocide to know that it is terrible. Likewise my kids don’t have to be exposed to obscenity, violence in movies etc, when their life experience is too little to understand it. Between birth and 18 they are in the most tender of their formative years. I have felt that it is my job to protect them and shield them from exposing them to more than they can process. As the twig is bent is an appropriate metaphor for this. With the internet situation, kids can be exposed to WAY too much too soon. I learned this, sadly, through personal experience. Once exposed to some images, they just can’t be erased. I believe that we can become what we allow into our minds and what we seek out. That is why I absolutely don’t watch horror movies, or anything with extreme violence or supernatural evil. As my kids got older, I did allow them to make more choices, so they could have some experience in decision making. As far as books, I have never had a problem with any book they brought home. I guess I got lucky on that one!
I’m not sure how things will be as they get older because kids are incredibly smart & intuitive for her age (not trying to be vain parent here, but it’s true). She had figured out movies weren’t real when she was 3 or 4 & completely understood that people didn’t really get hurt in movies, they weren’t real people, etc. She has always been able to watch things that other kids couldn’t way before. We have friends who do prosthetics for Halloween and movies so she understood that zombies, injuries weren’t real (although we don’t let her watch things like “The Walking Dead”–yet). But her favorite movies at early age 5 were War of the Worlds, I Am Legend (and Shrek). She could explain that the people in Legend weren’t zombies, they were people with a virus. She understands that guns and weapons kill people but in the movies they aren’t real, although I don’t let her watch movies where you see people kill others with guns. But when it comes to “sex”, it’s hard to know how much they should see. Some friends don’t let their kids see anything with even kissing in it. I don’t go that far, but no heavy kissing, underwear, sexy moves etc. I have to take cues from her as she gets older to figure out when to let her see more. She’s already wondering how the baby gets in the tummy and how daddy plays a role. As young kids simply saying, “it’s not appropriate for little kids” is enough. You can limit what they see and hear at home, but hope they use positive judgement when away.
For more on censorship, follow Censorship Watch, at www.censorshipwatch.net
Written By: Dan Abendschein Comments By: Leslie Aitken and Nina Malone