Last night, our local Fox news channel did an expose on whether children are being de-sensitized to overtly mature media at either the checkout stands in the local markets, in music videos or on the internet.
As most of you who follow my blogging already know - I've addressed those very subjects as recently as last week regarding music -- and last October regarding the checkout counter at the supermarket. I've also made it quite clear that I don't feel teenagers belong on any social networking sites. (Feel free to seach my blog on said topics and you'll see my arguements much clearer on each subject.)
Here's the only gripe I have with the piece that was done: while the parents who complained had every right to do so -- they were quick to place blame on the outlets upon which these items are found; yet they did not discuss their own efforts to prevent the access from taking place.
Mentioning how the internet has "roulette chat" rooms where children accidentally stumbled upon an adult site while researching homework was one issue that surprised me. Not that the sites are there -- but where are the filters placed upon the home computer so that these "accidents" can't happen?
Listen, I can't control how supermarkets position the more mature magazines or how musicians write their songs. I'm not trying to keep my children in a bubble, however I am trying to keep their innocence in mature subjects for as long as I can. My children are 9 and 6 -- this should not be an unrealistic goal. And while I can not control what they do outside of my own home as they get older and are able to venture alone to their friend's homes -- I absolutely can control what goes in my home.
There are firewalls that can be placed upon a computer that prevent access to any site that is even remotely inappropriate. The one I use is so strict - that just about everything is locked down. If they even attempt to go to a site - even accidentally - that is inappropriate, the site is blocked. My children then ask me about the site they want to go on. I review it - and then if I choose to allow it, I can unblock for increments of time so that it's not a blanket permission access. Best of all -- it's a free utility. It costed me nothing but my time and effort.
I've never felt that my children should be allowed to go on the internet for social aspects; but with WebKinz and third grade requirements -- they're on it more than I'd have preferred -- so I made absolutely sure that they can't go where I don't want them to. Curiousity is perfectly healthy and normal as well, but that doesn't mean I have to condone it by feigning ignorance and leaving my computer vulnerable to access, and my children exposed.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: I'm banging the lazy parenting drum. If you don't want your child to be exposed to certain things -- block them. There are parental blocks on cable and that includes music videos; block the age group you feel is appropriate leveling. Sure, some things you might allow might be blocked too - but you can unlock by individual choice at the appropriate time. Same goes for the internet; don't complain about what's out there -- lock the whole thing down and you won't have that issue about them seeing anything inappropriate.
We have choices to make as parents of people who want to grow up and be happy, healthy and productive in society. Make the choice to be an involved parent - maybe even strict by today's standards -- and I'm sure your children will thank you for it in the long run.