Zip has been in kindergarten a whole two months and already
the worldly influence of his peers is apparent.
First, it was the Godzilla artwork. Zip brought home pages
and pages of drawings from center-time – all featuring Godzilla battling his
(her? its?) various enemies.
Then it was the pleas for Beyblades™. “Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeease,
Momma? Can you pleeeeeeeeeeeeease get me Beyblades for my birthday?” Beyblades?
What is this thing you speak of, child?
And last week came the inquiry: “Momma, what is the bad
A-word? And the bad F-word?” Ah, thanks, bus
We’ve been taking it in stride because it is what it is, and short
of homeschooling him (um, no thanks!) this seems to me an unavoidable part of
being a kid. I was happy to answer Zip’s questions about “bad words,” so that he
didn’t follow in his momma’s footsteps by shouting the F-word at the top of his
lungs at school, having no idea what it meant, and then repeat it in front of
his grandmother. I was also relieved
when Zip announced that the “bad N-word” must be knucklehead. Phew.
These situations have provided great opportunities to
talk with Zip about our family’s values. This has
definitely been the case with Zip’s requests to watch TV shows that we don’t
allow, but that it seems some of his friends’ parents do – shows like
Transformers and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Man, kids can be mighty persistent when begging to watch some TV show they are
convinced will be just plain awesome.
found Common Sense Media to be a
great tool for handling this. We’ve been using the site for a long time now and
it continues to serve us well!
Basically, we look up the show Zip wants to watch on the
Common Sense website and read their review. Lately he isn’t satisfied with me
telling him the site says a show is most appropriate for older kids – that just
makes it more appealing – so I’ve
started looking at the reviews more closely with him. CSM rates shows 1-5 on a number of positives, like educational
value and positive messages, as well as negatives, like violence, language, and
“sexy stuff.” When we looked up Ninja Turtles I was able to show him visually that
there aren’t many positives but there is a fair amount of violence, which in
turn led to talking about why we don’t think kids should be watching shows
where the bad guys get dismembered. Once Zip has a clear rationale for not
getting to watch a show, the requests usually subside.
Our basic rules, which we use to frame our choices to the kids, are:
- Shows that have educational value or pro-social
messages are always allowed in our house. (Well, within our 1
hour/day TV limit.)
- We call shows that aren’t particularly educational “junk
shows.” Zip can watch these shows a couple of times a week, usually on the
weekends. We decided that at this point it’s okay for Zip to watch TV for pure
entertainment sometimes, just like adults do.
- Shows that are violent or scary simply aren’t allowed. As we explain it to the boys, these
shows don’t help their brains grow and science
shows that they aren’t healthy choices for kids, even if some
families do allow them.
If a show is sort of “borderline,” we might watch it together and then make a decision. Sometimes this means we decide a show is a “junk show” and sometimes we decide it just isn’t an appropriate choice. Usually the pleas end after this, I think because it seems fair to Zip – he knows we’ve given his request serious consideration – and if a show really isn’t a good choice he often sees that for himself when we watch it that one time.
I’d love to hear how you make choices about what your kids watch! What
TV rules do you have in your home?
While I am a press
ambassador for Common Sense Media, I am not obligated or compensated in any way
for talking about their site. I think they asked me to be an ambassador because
I already talk about them all the time! They are truly a great resource. They
also have a new part of their website in Beta-testing that rates the learning
value of games, websites, and apps.