Someone discovered the moving picture, and poof! ……. Life was never the same again. As parents, we all know the undeniable effect of the ‘Idiot Box’ on our children. While there are many who do argue about the benefits of having a medium to get through to active little brains, there are many more who are terrified of the influence the TV has on their kids.
I am no different. I am pulled into the world of daily soaps and family dramas too. I am faced with the terrible dilemma of knowing the nail-biting climax of a series, while knowing that exceptionally observant little ears and eyes are absorbing the somewhat controversial scenes on the TV. How much is really too much? Some thoughts …
Family friendly soaps too, do show a fair amount of violence. Let me take the example of a cute little series we watch, where there are two families coping with growing up kids. Recently, there was a kidnapping in the series, the young girl gagged and tied up, slapped around a couple of times. I know this is probably not too far from a reality that the kiddos should learn, but are strong visuals the right way?
Of course, I did spend a good amount of time pointing out why kids should not talk to strangers, and why being brave is all in the mind. I also went into a rant on how kids who tell their parents EVERYTHING are more likely to be safe from the ‘bad guys’ than those who don’t. But truth remains that I am still not too sure if exposing them to the scenes was correct or not.
Cut to a popular U certified Hindi movie, where the ‘hero’ almost stalks the female lead into falling in love with her – is that the message I’d like my son to get? Or even Ben Ten or Shin Shan (the latter is much, much worse than any cartoon I’ve seen). Both of these, in some form or the other, glorify violence, and care-a-damn attitude. 5-year-old son is smitten by both.
Daughter is very drawn to the Barbie series of cartoon movies – glamorous girls with impossible figures. My fears hit the roof one day when I saw her standing in front of the mirror, sucking her breath in to tuck her (well-rounded, baby fat laden) tummy!
Damage control came in the form of a full-blown session from me about how being healthy is all that counts. But is that too little too late? I certainly hope not.
When peer–talk revolves around the latest outfit worn by Hannah Montana (Moms of young girls will be familiar with this syndrome) or the strangest prank played by Doremon, kids definitely don’t want to be left out. (That said, Doremon still has a moral message at the end of a cartoon )
I have discovered that the best thing a parent can do is that there is absolutely NO UNSUPERVISED television time. I am there, watching the silly cartoons with them, answering questions that they definitely will ask, and going along trying to undo the damage that this strong influencer has put into the brains of my kids.
Sometimes, sheer doggedness pays off – the kids are slowly finding preference to nature shows and quiz shows.
But the most important victory is that they turn off the volume and look me in the eye when I start a conversation with them.
Meena Bhatnagar is a mother of two, with a passion for the written word. She dabbles with fiction, a couple of them finding their way into published work, is an avid blogger, and works as a corporate trainer to pay for all the damages. She blogs on parenting, social issues and humorous incidents of her life and on hotel & restaurant reviews and corporate training.