Sunday, September 14, 2008

TV Viewing and the Family

I've been sitting here watching a great movie, "National Treasure", with Todd, Grace, and mom. It is a good family movie with a bit of history thrown in. What I have been amazed by is the commercials that are showing during the break. We have seen multiple advertisements for erectile dysfunction medications. We have seen advertisements for local singles hotlines. These particular commercials showed attractive, scantily-clad women lounging on beds and couches asking men to call them. I am outraged that these commercials would be played early in the evening during a "family" movie.

I shudder to think what television will look like when Grace is a teenager. Children and teens who watch television now are barraged with images of sex, nudity, foul language, violence, and inappropriate behavior. It will only get worse with time.

I am amazed at how many parents allow their children unrestricted view of television, including cable. I am reminded of one particular student that I worked with as a school counselor. He was a 7-yr-old boy who was displaying inappropriate sexual behavior in the classroom (I won't list the details). Anyway, when I met with his mother, she revealed to me that he had a TV in his bedroom. I asked her if they used parental controls on his TV, and she said that she did not. He was able to watch cable and movie channels at any time alone in his room. Hmmmm. I wonder where he learned his sexual behaviors? She assured me that he only watched the Disney channel. Right. I advised her to remove his TV from his bedroom and carefully monitor what he watched.

As parents, we must be diligent to protect our children from these images as much as possible. I am not naive enough to think we can raise Grace completly shielded from the things of the world.....especially when she starts going to school. However, we can be proactive and do our best to make sure she is exposed to as little as possible. And, when something does slip by us (like an inappropriate commercial), we can have an open and honest dialogue about it, especially as she gets older.

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