I remember when I was young that my Mom’s twin sister lived out in the country. She home-schooled her children, never had a TV and lived what we thought was a very protective life. One year, my Mom mistakenly gave her sister’s children a Disney movie for Christmas. It was Snow White. The whole incident caused one of the biggest fights between my Mom and her sister and I remember thinking, “Why is that movie so bad?” I was probably 12 years and had watched that movie a dozen times. You might say that I had become rather “desensitized” by that since I no longer could see anything “wrong” with it.
Several years later, I remember putting the very same movie on to watch with my young children. I had memories of watching with my parents and those times were very special to me and I was excited to share the same feelings with my children. We turned the movie off within the first 5 minutes. I couldn’t bear to show my children the sad and depressing story as it was. They were saddened immediately and I began thinking about what my reaction to it was when we first watched it. I really couldn’t remember.
Now that my children are six, I recognize and understand deeply that they do not wish to watch that sort of drama. They shy away when I mention the word “movie” because to them, it means there will be some sad and scary moments. They have come to realize that every single movie out there has drama in it, and they simply avoid it. We don’t like to watch things that have guns, or people getting blown up or any of those things.
As a young girl, my Mom and Dad were very careful about not letting me watch dramatic shows on television. I remember listening through my bedroom door to see what all the fuss was about when Hillstreet Blues would come on the television. They never let us watch Rated “R” movies but since Disney was for kids, they never had a problem with us watching those kinds of shows. But how safe is Disney for little kids? Even the most innocent looking story has a “bad guy” that has to be “defeated” in some way.
Now, when you turn on the news for example, there is story after story of death and destruction. Its worse than any TV show or movie.
“This person was shot…” (blink and turn to another camera).
“That person was robbed at gunpoint…” (blink and turn and now smile).
“The weather is going to be…”
It’s really ridiculous the amount of negative news that is all over the airwaves. Families eat their dinner while the news plays in the background.
“A man killed 5 people when he was texting in his car…” (please pass the peas…)
Have we become so desensitized by the media that we see and hear every day? So much so that nothing but the shooting of an innocent 9 year old girl can really penetrate the membrane?
I am writing this after spending some time looking at the photos from the shooting in Arizona. I’ve cried tears of sorrow for the poor families who must now begin their own spiritual journey to make something good out of their situation. While I have a deep understanding and knowing that ALL bad things create a greater GOOD and that I know intimately that we do not die against our will, I still have to wonder why on earth no one is asking how the media is responsible?
I’m a media professional and I have always advocated for more positive news. Positive stories, positive press… that is what I want my children to grow up with in the background. Not the venomous finger pointing that goes on between Republicans and Democrats, but real… positive… news! There are lots of fingers pointing at Sarah Palin and Michelle Bachman, but what about the media that let that get out on the airwaves in the first place? Our media outlets seem to enjoy putting this out to the public. They repeat it over and over again in case you missed it.
I was making this point to a friend of mine who said to me, “Yes, the media plays a huge part, but the audience is the one responsible for not listening to it”. I get that. I understand that. I really practice not letting my children or myself for that matter be subjected to the hate that is on the airwaves. But what about Disney? What about other “kid-friendly” shows? What if the violence is disguised in a pretty package with cartoon characters? Transformers? Batman? Snow White and the Wicked Stepmother? What about the parents who feel safe with these because Disney or whomever says it is “for kids” like my parents did?
It really starts there in my opinion, with these very early years and taking responsibility for really understanding what your children like to watch or are watching. Does the show play off violence as something that is okay or ordinary? When my children see a gun on TV, they are alarmed because they know that guns can kill people. How many guns do you see on TV? Are your children used to seeing them or do they also become interested in them?
These are some questions parents should consider before turning on the TV in their house. Each TV in your house has the ability to desensitize our young children to death and violence. Do we really want that? Children are just sponges and have no way to really understand that the violence is “pretend” or just for “fun” or “entertainment”. I don’t think they think it’s fun to watch people get beat up or shot or whatever else happens.
I have a new respect for my Aunt now that I am grown and a mother. I’m not quite ready to ban the TV, mostly because you can’t hide it or they’ll simply find it somewhere else. Our job as parents is to teach them what is better for their spirit and what can really empower them to help people. How does the show make them feel and does it feel “right” to them? These are questions I ask when they choose something to watch on our TV and I really want to urge parents everywhere to be conscious and aware of it also.