Trashy Teen Syndrome – Age Appropriate Access

Previous Post – Trashy

Age Appropriate Access To Media – If we accept that the media will continue to dish out whatever the populace will eagerly consume, then we can only conclude that the hyper sexualized images that are so pervasive in all types of media today will continue to be present for quite some time.

As a parent of a couple of tweens, my wife and I get to hear all the late breaking playground gossip during the dinner hour and I am frequently stunned at some of the media their peers have access to and most of it unmonitored, if not provided by a parent(s). It is almost as if the term “age appropriate” is not part of the parental vernacular any longer.

They will frequently come home asking if they can see a movie, watch a YouTube video or purchase a song on iTunes and in our process of vetting the content before we agree to let them have access, 80% of the time the content is COMPLETELY inappropriate for their age.

The language and imagery is clearly not for the eyes and ears of a child, yet parents are letting their kids have access. Whether it be with eyes wide open or eyes wide shut, these parents are ultimately facilitating the normalization of imagery, language and behaviors that are barely appropriate for adults never mind a child.

Today, children have tremendous access to information via the Internet, television, music videos, advertisements, and other emerging technologies… Much of the messaging in current pop culture promotes the normalization of harmful sexual behaviour… –kidsintheknow.ca

It is important to understand that what can be considered inappropriate content, covers a broad spectrum of media from simple lyrics to a song to hard core pornography. Your child’s ability to process and make sense of what they see develops with age just as their ability to learn does. You do not toss your child into grade 12 when they are kindergarten age so why then would you subject your child to media content they cannot process and  put into context?

Managing access to harmful hyper sexualized media takes effort but in the end it might just prevent producing a trashy teen. Remember, as a parent you have a responsibility to monitor what your child is exposed to and it isn’t all that difficult.

  • Don’t give your child unlimited and unsupervised access to a computer.
  • Learn how to use parental controls on your computer and TV.
  • Check the lyrics of the music your child wants to buy. If it is inappropriate, don’t get it.
  • If a movie is PG 13 don’t take your 9 year old, or even your 12 year old. Just because your child wants to see a movie, does not mean the have to see the movie.
  • Don’t buy your pre teen, material which is meant for young adults. Magazines are a great example of a type of media that relays messages about body image that can be incredibly harmful to a pre teen who barely understands their own body never mind make sense of the surgically augmented, Photoshop’ed forms presented in the pages of most popular culture magazines.
  • If you insist in exposing your child to adult oriented media, talk to your child about images they see and lyrics they hear and to try and begin to build a healthy frame of reference by which they can understand it.

Again, the earlier your child is exposed to adult oriented media the greater risk there is for objectionable behaviors in their teens and into adulthood.

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