So, I follow a lot of people on Twitter. Well, not a lot…but over 200. One of them is @OMGFacts. They tweet great facts and always have an interesting story to back up each one. A week or two ago they tweeted this:
“The Power Rangers were banned in New Zealand until 2011, despite the fact that the show is filmed there!” (This was because of the violence.)
And then not long after that…
“The Power Rangers were censored in Malaysia, because censors thought it would get kids addicted to drugs!” (This was because the word “Morphin’” in “Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers” was too close to “morphine.”)
So, this got me thinking. There are a lot of things individuals and groups like the Parents Television Council are slamming lately: TV shows, video games, movies, music. Is this new? No, absolutely not. But that’s precisely what got my gears turning.
I watched Charmed when I was younger – there are episodes where Prue, Phoebe, Piper, and Paige all have sex with their boyfriends (or, sometimes just strangers. Or demons. Or demon strangers. Even demon boyfriends.)
I played, and watched my cousin play, all sorts of video games. Donkey Kong was a favorite. So was Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. But he also played a lot of James Bond and Mortal Kombat. James Bond is full of criminal activity – on each level you have to shoot and kill all sorts of bad guys, steal things, blow things up. But it is nothing compared to Mortal Kombat. Did you know there’s a cheat to turn up the blood graphics? Yep, there is. I’m pretty sure a human body doesn’t hold that much blood, let alone get up and start fighting again. Pretty awesome.
And movies! My mom never told me I couldn’t watch a certain movie – mainly because I already filtered through them myself. I never watched horror (I’m a wimp) and I rarely watched a thriller (I’m a BIG wimp, actually). But I’d watch a lot of action movies and comedies.
Lastly, music. If I had headphones in my ears, chances are I was listening to Eminem. (And when it comes to today…chances are I’m still listening to him.) My favorite kind of music is rap, though pop is right up there with it. And don’t get me started on music videos – Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Eminem, Lil Jon. They’re all full of explicit imagery.
*shrugs* I think I turned out okay.
I don’t have rampant sex with strangers (or demons). I don’t have intense urges to put fifty rounds through the body of a random person on the street. I don’t have strange desires to jack cars and blow up buildings. And I definitely don’t believe in promoting domestic abuse, murder, or rape.
The thing is, the more you hold a kid back, the more they want to rush forward. Teenagers are rebellious in nature. That is never going to change. You have to teach them maturity, and the only way to do that is to expose them to a subject matter and explain it to them. Honestly, they’re going to be exposed to sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll (actually, rap might be the rock n’ roll of our age, but it doesn’t sound as good) by the time they hit middle school anyway. Trust me. The school bus is an orgy of rumors and hormones.
So, instead of trying to keep them innocent forever, I suggest getting to them before anyone else does. When a borderline-panic-inducing subject (like sex, *gasp!*) comes up in a TV show (I’m thinking about Glee here), take the time to explain your expectations of them. Should they do it? Probably not. Will they do it? Maybe. Talk to them about the dangers and set some guidelines – not the 20 foot high castle walls with accompanying moats of lava, rickety draw bridges, and starving dragons type of guidelines, though. Kids, believe it or not, respect their parents if the parents take the time to earn it. They’re not going to want to disappoint you.
Now, I realize that there is a difference in being your child’s friend and your child’s parent. I definitely get that. I think there should be rules – curfews, computer monitoring, parental supervision – but you can’t smother your child. It will back fire. I’ve seen it enough times to know that is absolutely true.
I wasn’t smothered as a child. I was expected to make decisions that could have consequences. I chose to be responsible and I think I was a pretty good kid. And that pretty good kid turned into a pretty good adult.
The bottom line is this: TV, video games, movies, and music do NOT turn a good kid into a bad kid. Poor parenting does. These things can be contributing factors, but they are not sole reason why your child suddenly decided to murder the neighbor’s cat. (And if he really did that, please be responsible and send him to a professional. I’ve watched enough Criminal Minds to know that it’s a precursor to some more serious problems.) I’ve seen perfectly good kids knock down the toughest baddie Mortal Kombat can throw at them, and bad kids that have never picked up a controller in their life. If they’ve got issues, it lies much deeper than what they’re seeing on screen.