Saturday, February 10, 2007

Parents and television...a happy family?

On Monday, Feb. 5, Reuters ran an article that shows many parents aren't too pleased with the media's impact on their children. About 57 percent of 1,138 U.S. parents surveyed were either "very concerned" or "strongly concerned" about children spending too much of their time with different media outlets in comparison to 45 percent of parents who said they were as concerned about their kids engaging in sex or using alcohol.The results of a study sponsored by Common Sense Media (a San Francisco-based media watch group cited by the NY Times, LA Times, Christian Science Monitor, etc.)

We all are living in mediated world, and most American children spend an enormous amount of time with electronic screens. How do we ensure that our kids understand whats happening around them and where should the line be drawn for using graphic headlines and photos? Children, like everyone else, should be well informed and interested in current events, but what happens to children who watch death by hanging, re-enactments of crimes, see close-up shots of body bagged murder victims, or experience the play-by-play excavation of trapped earthquake victims? Kids imitate..and as we saw a few weeks ago, mimic-behaviors have led to fatal accidents.

In looking at the media survey and at an article by Judith Myers-Walls, Center for Media Literacy (see "Parents can help defend bad news", I realized that major news networks' target audience isn't kids, it's adults. But if these adults have children then they are likely (I hope) to censure their viewing to accommodate their own tastes but to also accommodate the defenseless eyes of children.

I don't know if news agencies are taking children as seriously as they should. I don't know if news agencies will even consider this week's survey illustrating just how wary parents are becoming in trusting the media to guard its content and consider sensitive children.

I believe that ratings are heavily impacted by audience that news agencies covers in stories but rarely considers a viable audience. In a world full of bad news....violence, war and disasters....many parents are looking for something..anything good/humorous/less raw and rugged to guard their children and to maintain a little slice of hope that their kids won't grow up feeling like a powerless victim of circumstance.



At Saturday, February 10, 2007, Anonymous TD said...

ER, I definitely agree that the media should be more mindful of what it put to air. I, being an adult, have a lot of trouble watching violent footage in the news, which has been much more prevalent lately because of the war in Iraq. On a side note, good job posting first! haha

At Saturday, February 10, 2007, Anonymous cy said...

Hmm... I think parents have a big role to play in regulating what their children watch. But at the same time, news isn't necessarily considered "adult content" either. So I think stories that may be visually disturbing should have anchors warn viewers. And I have seen this done before. Maybe there needs to be more?

but yea... i love family guy. when i was younger, my mom forbid shows me and my brother from watching shows like 'the simpsons.' she called it garbage. i think kids can very easily get the wrong idea when watching shows like that. when you're older and 'wiser' like we are, heck, we'll take everything with a grain of salt. but until then, parents have the responsibility of regulating.


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