Thursday, July 8, 2010

Watching what the kids watch

A couple of weeks ago, BooBoo started making a habit of sitting on Shadow's back and yelling "Giddy-up!".  For the most part, Shadow either just lays there and waits to be petted or he sits up and lets BooBoo slip off of his back before laying back down.  No-one said my dog was stupid.

We wondered where BooBoo picked up the idea of riding a horse or dog like that.  He's not a "cowboy" kind of kid, and I've only given horsie rides a couple of times. 

Then we noticed that he could pick Woodie and Buzz from Toy Story out of one of his Disney books by name.  We let BooBoo watch a movie every so often, and he likes Toy Story.  In the second Toy Story movie, Woodie rides the family dog like a horse.  Apparently BooBoo was emulating Woodie in trying to get Shadow to take him for a ride.

This gave me something to think about.  While this is a pretty benign and cute manifestation of it, kids are influenced a lot by the entertainment we let them enjoy.  I grew up watching Fes Parker play Davie Crockett, and we played Alamo in the basement for years.  Kids who watch a lot of television are going to be influenced by the characters and stories they experience, for good or bad.

Currently, there is a large crop of TV shows for kids between 9 and 12, the dreaded tweens.  Some of it is bubblegum stuff, some of it is a half-hour of goofiness and toilet humor, and some of it is obnoxious trash.  Movies and music are about the same.  This reminds me of the pattern I see in entertainment during the late 50's, 60's and 70's.  The Baby Boomers were a large group of consumers with money, so the entertainment industry pandered to their taste.  Now there is the large group of Generation X's children that have the money, and the entertainment industry is providing to them.

I'm not saying that this is bad.  That's how market economies work, and entertainment is a large part of our market.  Even if I don't like what's being produced doesn't mean I don't think that there are some who do and will spend their time and money on it.  I acknowledge that I'm getting older and crankier and think that just about all TV, movies, and music produced today is crap.  I yearn for the golden age of cartoons about robots, TV shows that have special forces guys who can't hit the broad side of a barn in a firefight,  and hair metal.  Now get off my lawn you damn kids.

What I am saying is that as parents, we have to be aware what influences are being shoved on our kids.  We can't wait for the government, the media, or anyone else to do it for us.  I don't let my kids watch gross cartoons on Nickelodean or the Cartoon Network. (I'm a bit of a hypocrite here, because I love to watch Ren and Stimpy and their brethren.  But I didn't graduate from Scooby Doo and RoadRunner cartoons until I was a teenager, and I think that was pretty typical).  I run parental controls on my cable box, computers, and game consoles.  I encourage my children to read, but I don't encourage my daughter to read teenage romance novels like Twilight.  There will be time enough for that when she's actually a teenager. 

Parents have to know that when they let television, music, or any other form of media into their children's lives, they are letting that media exert influence on the behavior, values, and outlook of those children.  As parents, we have to know what our children are accessing, and influence them to make good choices when it comes to these inputs.  If they make bad choices, we have to modify their behavior.  When they make good choices, we have to encourage them to continue down that path.


Scott McCray said...

DB -

With folks like you out there - there's still hope for the future.
(There's that "home raisin'"I keep babbling about...)

DaddyBear said...

Thanks Scott. I'm no Ward Cleaver, but I do try.

Amusing Bunni said...

HI Daddy Bear. You have a lot of common sense. More parents need to do and practice what you do to raise good children.

I'm glad I found your blog, thanks for following mine. I"m following yours too! You also have some great blogrolls!

DaddyBear said...

thanks! You'll go up on the blogroll when I update it again this weekend.

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