As season premieres of TV shows continue to pop up on networks, having my five-year-old in the room is a constant reminder of the amount of violence that is actually deemed “acceptable.”
It seems the tolerance for blood, gore, bad language and sex increases with each year. Or at least for me. As my child gets older each year, she picks up on and understands the bad stuff more and more.
We watch the news everyday, and scenes shown are often terrible– probably worse because they are real. My daughter asks questions regularly such as “Why are they happy he died?” (answer: “He was a bad guy who hurt people”) and “Why are all those kids sick?” (answer: “They are not as lucky as you to have food and medicine.”)
Although a lot of times scary for children as well as adults, I see value in her watching the news. I want her to know reality. Not every child eats a nutritious dinner every night or goes to school each day in clean clothes or has a roomful of toys.
I am not a fan of my daughter watching violence and other adult material just because it is on TV for entertainment value. In fact, I do not let her. I don’t watch a whole lot of TV myself, and shows that I do watch are not of a violent nature. However, I am not against those types of shows being on TV. Adults are free to watch what they like, and networks obviously do research to find out what that is.
My daughter is only five and so it is easy to block material not suited for her age. As she gets older, I’m sure it will be more difficult. You cannot always be there, and many kids are allowed TVs in their rooms.
A great article on the subject entitled “What Parents Can Do About Media Violence” on the Center for Media Literacy website raises the question “What is the long-term cumulative impact of excessively violent imagery as entertainment doing to us as individuals and as a society?”
According to the article, here is how the circle of blame spins: Viewers blame those who create the shows. Writers and directors say the producers require violence in programs in order to get them financed. Producers blame network executives for demanding action in order to get ratings. Network executives say competition is brutal and blame the advertisers for pulling out unless a show gets high ratings. Advertisers say it's up to the viewers.
The article goes on to explain five helpful ways for parents to minimize the impact of media violence. But what works for you and your family? What rules do you have regarding this issue in your home?