I was talking with a mother this morning.She shared that her eleven-year-old had begun listening to music on his iPod that made her extremely uncomfortable.“I didn’t think I’d have to deal with this at eleven.Is this early?”
Sadly, no. Several parents in the group began recounting tales of their personal battles with their children and battles with a culture that pushes values that are contrary to their own.Unfortunately, our children have become a consumer group.Marketers regularly design commercials and campaigns that pit parents against their own children.I knew a family that banned television from their home.That wasn’t my approach but I can certainly sympathize with the action.It’s just that I’m not sure that it will really solve the problem when determined capitalists have targeted our children.
What do we do?
What is it that our children need in order to survive in a culture that views them as a consumer group?I believe that as appealing as withdrawing from the culture or banning specific songs or mediums from our homes might be, it doesn’t solve the problem.
1.) Censor and monitor the media (TV, radio, print, video games, computer) that your preschooler comes in contact with to the extent possible.
2.) Gradually, as your children become older and able to reason and think abstractly (five, six, seven), allow some of the outside culture in but talk about it.Explain why you feel uncomfortable with what your children are seeing or hearing.
3.) As the children are able, help them to evaluate what they are hearing and seeing.A good resource for about evaluating television commercials with your children is available at http://medialit.med.sc.edu/toyadanalysisworksheet.htm
4.) Watch yourself.What do our children see us watching, listening to, and saying?Do we make comments and interact with media that are inconsistent with our own values?As adults, we have more ability to analyze and understand what we are viewing but if our children seeing us watching a movie that has inappropriate content, do they understand why it is acceptable for us?
5.) Act out our own values and talk with your children about why we are making the choices we make. They won’t necessarily know if we don’t tell them.
Media Literacy Project
Project Look Sharp
New Mexico Media Literacy Project
Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood
TRUCE (Teachers Resisting Unhealthy Children’s Entertainment)
Website of Diane E. Levin
Media Education Foundation