While watching TV recently, my ear was caught by a phrase that was almost entirely bleeped out. Interestingly, I could fill in the missing words with my mind based on context. This got me thinking about setting limits. From birth to old-age, limiting behavior is a crucial part of living happily in a family and a society as a whole.
We set limits for our children to keep them safe physically, but also to protect them from emotional harm. I am a big supporter of creative expression, and I find value in all forms. As an adult, I enjoy some pretty wild humor. I find that laughing at certain polarizing and charged issues takes some of the sting out of the reality. Laughing at prejudices can prove how silly they ultimately are.
However, even with the words bleeped out, a child shouldn't be exposed to this kind of expression. As I had done, it's easy for a bright child to fill in the gaps and work out the context. The trouble is that, without a mature point of view, the subtleties of sarcasm and satyr are lost. (Sometimes when this type of humor is on the cover of the New Yorker, even the adults don't get the message).
I feel a similar responsibility in the world of Kids' Music. When you've had a 4 year old sing all the words of Avril Lavigne's "Skater Boy," or reenact certain graphic scenes from "High School Musical 2," during a preschool class it makes you think. Obviously parental filtering is the most important part of the process, but I think the industry has a responsibility in how it markets media to kids.
I can understand and barely tolerate the Jonas Brothers fanaticism from my 'tween, afterschool students. I see all sorts of Miley Cyrus notebooks and High School Musical backpacks piled up in the locker area daily. It's nothing new, I've got grown friends who have NKOTB tickets. There's always a pop fad. It's when it seeps into the preschool culture, that my alarm bells go off.
As the "pop" market gets younger, the messages of image consciousness, materialism and sexuality are foisted on an audience that is too young to understand, and too impressionable to come away without confusion and emotional damage. The messages that the media sends to us are powerful, but parents and educators are not powerless. Save the mature content (Music, TV, Video Games and Movies) for the grown-ups and search out the quality content for the wee ones. Let's keep 'em young and full of wonder! Keep 'em Singing in the Bathtub!
Mommy Quote of the Day: "Next time you police the meat counter, you better check yourself!" ~ Alison (age 28)