Saturday, March 28, 2015

Turning Off Violent and Rude Television Programming

Now that my little minion is seven years old, he has outgrown a lot of the cute, educational toddler programming that he used to love and that I used to enjoy watching with him. Shows like "Peppa Pig" and "Curious George" have been replaced by "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles", "Sponge Bob" and "Fairly Odd Parents".

There is absolutely nothing of value beyond pure mindless entertainment in the shows that the kiddo wants to watch now. Not only that, some of the programs are disturbing to me. For example, the characters on "Sam and Kat" are just plain rude. I don't want my child emulating that type of behavior with others in real life.

But even more disturbing to me is the inherent violence in programming targeted to young boys. One day I sat next to Christopher while he watched some cartoon called "Teen Titans Go" starring Robin (from Batman and Robin). In this show, Robin woke up, got out of bed, picked up a big stick and then walked around the house whacking people and animals over the head with it and then laughing about it. That was the entire plot of the first five minutes of the show. Hitting and laughing, hitting and laughing, hitting and laughing.

I looked over at Christopher and every time Robin laughed, Christopher laughed. He was enthralled and I was appalled. He thought it was funny to attack people because Robin thought it was funny to attack people. I cannot believe that this show was even allowed to be on the air. For the record, this show lasted for five minutes with us before I stood up and turned of the TV. After that, I had to listen to Christopher scream and cry in protest but I was not going to give in on this because this show was awful. Then Christopher threatened to hit me if he didn't get his way and at that point, I REALLY knew I was doing the right thing. If his response to not getting to see a violent program is to get violent with his mother, then yeah, we need to redirect.

I want to be especially careful with Christopher because he does come from an early childhood of violence and was diagnosed with PTSD at the age of three. I have done a lot of work to undo the tendencies he learned from living in a home filled with domestic violence and I wasn't about to negate all that because society allows total crap to be on TV.

I've done a little research and learned that even if a child has healthy behavioral beginnings, violent programming at a young age could affect them quite negatively. Some of the symptoms I've learned could result are:
  • Increased propensity to violence
  • Callousness towards victims
  • Exaggerated fear of being victimized by violence
  • Depression
  • Isolation
Considering we have had a dramatic increase in the number of violent attacks in public places like schools and shopping malls, I would say that the concerns I have are pretty valid. I've gotta say it all kind of freaks me out now because even if I protect my own child from violent programming, so many people think it's "no big deal" and with violent TV programming so easily accessible, it will only become a bigger issue. This means even if my child isn't violent, he could be in the company of others who are, such as at school or maybe at the YMCA. This is all very scary to me.

I know I cannot control others and can only control my own child. So with that I do what I can just to focus on Christopher's behaviors. For the record, after we turned of Teen Titans Go, I found a documentary on Nat Geo Wild about Nomura Jellyfish that Christopher really liked. Apparently because of global warming, this species of jellyfish is growing to gigantic proportions and Christopher thought they were really cool looking. We talked about global warming after that and although he didn't really completely understand it all, at least the conversation was intelligent. I've also discovered that he enjoys watching "Word Girl" on PBS, which I like for him too. So there are options out there. I simply have to try harder to find them for him. I just hope and wish that other parents are making the same efforts with their kids.

After I finished writing this post, I read on Twitter that a police officer who was a member of the Boston Youth Violence Task Force was shot in the head in a Roxbury shootout last night. The suspect is dead and the officer is in an induced coma, fighting for his life. As if I needed any additional proof that violence has negatively permeated our society, this is it. My thoughts and prayers are going out to Officer John T. Moynihan right now.

1 comment:

  1. I am not saying that violence is not inherent in programming today but how about our day? Road Runner and Three stooges and Bugs bunny. Violence has been there. The issue is not the programming but how the child interprets it.
    Since my children have not issues with past violence then it is not so much an issue. I also think that the sexual content is a HUGE issue. No tampon commercials were allowed in the 70's but now we can have ED commercials. How do you explain that to children? Especially since now we have programming on demand. Things like this are so much more an issue. I know people who do not have cable for this reason. and I agree....
    Anyway, I feel for your situation. I know that unheeded violence is an issue for you especially. I believe that most kids do not, however, see this as reality. Since blowing up a coyote and allowing it to fall off cliffs were not really issue for us. etc...
    I believe parents have to deal with each child individually. The sexual content will be a REAL eyeopener for you in a few years. It is crazy out of control.
    love, Doreen