A few days ago my wife and I came across an ad for an upcoming TV series.
We laughed. We liked the actors. There were a few cute moments in it. At the conclusion of the preview we turned to each other and declared, “We will definitely be watching that!”
We were into it.
As I thought back on the preview, a line popped back in my head. I replayed the video just to make sure I was remembering correctly. Sure enough, towards the end, the line flashed on the screen.
A new family comedy.
Almost immediately, the inner dialogue began in my head. It looks like a show my wife and I will enjoy but will it be one we can enjoy with our children? What age group of kids are they considering when saying it will be for families? Does “family comedy” mean the same thing to ABC that it means to me?
I know the topic of what we as parents allow our children to partake in is a hot topic.
What is family friendly? What is alright for our kids to be enjoying?
Some families cut out TV altogether. I’ve had friends and family who have fallen into this category. People are quick to make fun of this option but I’ve never known the decision to be made in haste.
The media we consume has an effect on us, especially when we consume it passively. When we are not giving any thought to what we are watching or reading it begins to shape us. This is especially true for children who are still learning about the world.
Some parents decide to preview kid shows before allowing their kids to watch. This way if there is content within the show the parent deems inappropriate they can then decide how to proceed. Should the child be kept from viewing the content at all? Or should the child be allowed to see the show followed by a discussion of what happened on screen?
I also know of some parents who take a back seat, passive approach to TV viewing. They never worry about what their kids are watching, how much, or what kind of content is shaping the mind of their child.
My parents definitely did not fall into this category. Had they known we were watching, “Dude, Where’s My Car?” at a friends house when we were in Jr High, they would not have been happy.
(The story actually continues. We had not told them where we were going so they had been worried and looking for us. So we ended up grounded from going outside and TV for about a week after that…and it was during the summer.)
What is okay for my kids to be watching?
As parents it is important for us to give thought to what our children are reading or watching. Otherwise someone, or something else will be raising your children. Here’s a few things to think about when it comes to media consumption.
Worldview. One thing which lurks below the surface of any form of media is a worldview. Every form of media has an underlying worldview. This post is being written as a result of my worldview. The more we read a particular worldview the more we are to let it shape us, especially when we are taking part in it without even realizing it. Be aware.
When watching or reading ask the question, “What is this trying to teach me about the world?”
Inappropriate material. Parents fall all over the place on what is too inappropriate for their children. While watching a show with a 5 year old is it okay for him to hear a string of four letter words? What about racial slurs? Sexual content? As stated before, the things we watch influence us and children are even more impressionable. Where will you draw the line?
It may seem nit-picky but its an important conversation to have with our spouses. Otherwise our kids are going to learn all about the world through media and we are going to get left behind.
Conversations on the go. This last one is ground breaking stuff, but talk to your kids. Ask them questions about what they are watching. After watching a show ask what they liked or didn’t like. Did they learn something?
Having regular, ongoing conversations with our kids helps to know what they are thinking and feeling. It helps us to parent better. And when kids know you are interested, they are more likely to come running when life starts getting hard.
So what is family friendly?
The line is never going to be the same for every family, but each family needs to have a line. It will help us to parent better and will keep the years and lessons from just ticking by.
Don’t just sit there and let someone else raise your kids. Decide to do life as a family and enjoy it all together.
What guidelines do you have in your home for family friendly content?