Apologies for only posting a new blog post now. Not to worry I didn’t disappear off the radar. The thing is I’ve been so busy during the school holidays that I simply didn’t have time to write or post anything.
Are you PG wise when it comes to what your kids are watching?
So the deal is my kids don’t watch much television. In fact they don’t watch television at all during a school week. We limit screen time over weekends. This will include a rental movie. Although they limited to watch television, we very conscious of the PG ratings. We do not allow them to watch the news on television. Broadcast news on television contain way too much violence and disturbing images. Believe me, they know exactly what is happening out there so don’t think we are sheltering them in any way. They get enough exposure to these from newspaper posters, what they hear from listening to the radio, magazines and what they eavesdrop from conversations. Yes they very good at doing that. Overexposing them to violent news on the television is a big NO, NO. However this is our opinion and is a standard rule in our home.
What works for us might not work for you or be your viewpoint – so different strokes for different folks. If they do watch television, we are very strict on the content as it must be age appropriate.
They enjoy watching the Nickelodeon and the Disney Channels and do so unsupervised. The content screened is safe and appropriate for their age. Scheduled movies are screened ahead of time for PG ratings.
With it being school holidays, we have been a bit slack with the restriction of their television viewing time. At times I made the odd comment of “too much screen time girls”. Then I would hear “mom it is holiday – just this one programme”. Although they were outdoors most days; when they got the opportunity they would watch more than their fair share of television.
Don’t get me wrong I’m definitely not against children watching television. I believe that they can learn a great deal from some programmes but are all programmes good for them.
So coming back to the PG rating. My 10 year old daughter, is what I would call a sensitive viewer and even listener. And by listener, I refer to something she would hear on the radio or in passing. Like the time when the hippo escaped from the reserve in Rondevlei. My child freaked out. Convinced that he was heading for our house and that he was going to harm us. Upon capturing him, she slept peacefully.
Ensuring that what she watch will not scare the living daylights out of her. Even though the television programme would have the appropriate age restriction and it would seem all normal to view; the minute dramatic music starts playing, she gets on edge. She find documentaries about natural disasters like earthquakes and tornados disturbing. As well as nature programmes about snakes disturbing and avoids watching it at all cost.
On the other hand, my 7 year old find these programmes harmless and would watch nature documentaries about animals with interest. So not all children have the same reaction to certain content.
She is old enough to distinguish what fiction is. Knowing that animation and all of the programmes she watches on Nickelodeon and the Disney Channels falls into fiction category. But she still can’t distinguish between fiction and factual when it comes to movies and drama series on other channels.
And then there is the tear jerkers. I also also cry myself a good cry sometimes. Therefore I see no shame in it. I guess at her age she is now more in touch with feelings of compassion and empathy and will show emotion for sad parts of a movie.
Her fears and emotions are not only limited to television programmes and movies. She find some commercials upsetting too. Resulting in her having difficulty falling asleep at night and sometimes having nightmares.
Research has shown that nightmares occur during the stage of sleep when the brain in very active. This stage is called REM. It is where the eyes move rapidly under the eyelids. The brain processes information hidden in the subconscious. Transforming this information into active emotions and then ultimately nightmares or bad dreams. Visuals seen on television, a book or article that you read or something that you heard, also when you experience stress or a reaction to a traumatic event can trigger this.
Supposed child-friendly television programmes and animated movies has become increasingly more violent over the years. Mimicking this violent behaviour will be easy. As they see these characters as superheroes and role models. Some would find the violence funny as it happens in a way that it wouldn’t normally in real life.
Reality shows have taken over the television industry. Allowing your child to watch these shows have an impact on how they view their self image and values.
Controlling what they watch is easy when they at home, however it is very difficult to control when they sleep over at their grandparents or when they visit friends. We are not always around to control what they watch. Also we need to be aware of what they are watching when they have a remote in their hand and flip through the channels.
Control what kids are watching on TV
So how do we as parents control what our kids watch and protect them from being exposed to inappropriate content?
- Limit overall TV time. There are better things to do than just sit and watch TV.
- Screen the TV programmes that they watch.
- Help your child choose a movie at the video shop, check whether it is age appropriate and ask the assistant if it has any scenes of violence, nudity, prejudice or inappropriate language.
- Educate your kids about parental guidance and ratings so that they know when they are at a friend’s house not to watch it if it is not age appropriate.
- Check out the movie reviews.
- Make sure the movie sends a positive message.
- Don’t use television to babysit your kids.
- Never sit and have dinner in front of a television – make sure that family meals are enjoyed at the dinner table.
- If your television or device has that option, set parental control on your television.
- Be careful what you watch, your kids might not be in the same room with you but the language and dramatic music can still be heard.
- Make older siblings who are between the ages of 13 – 18 aware that they can’t watch their movies in the presence of younger siblings.
- Apply the same restrictions to older siblings when it comes to age appropriate content.
- No TV during a school week or if you are going to allow them to watch – no TV before bed time.
- Know the warning signs, if they start screaming or closing their eyes – switch it off.
- Also take not of changes in behaviour – like aggression, use of foul language and is not sensitive to pain and suffering.
- When nightmares occur, we need to reassure them that all will be ok and that it was just a bad dream.
- Don’t ignore or belittle your child for being frightened but comfort them.
- Don’t put a television in your child’s bedroom
PG ratings and what it stands for
Know what the age restriction ratings mean (this is from the South African Film and Publication Board)
Know what the mandatory classification elements stand for:
Bottom line is, television programme and movie content has changed tremendously from decades ago and what seemed to be taboo many years ago is now seen as normal viewing. So don’t think for one second that if it is on television, it can’t be that extreme or harmful. That’s where we are wrong and here is why – broadcast networks are all about ratings and money and if content like explicit sex, nudity, violence, foul language sells well – it will be aired. The same goes for commercials – if advertisers are willing to pay it will be screen time. We need to be aware of what our children are watching when they flip through the channels and that they not exposed to content not suitable for their age. The best we as parents can do is to educate ourselves and know what these ratings stand for and to pay attention to what our children view. Remember if you are not happy with the content of a programme or commercial and find it offensive in any way, you have the right to complain to the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa.