Negative Effects of Television on Children

by Sheri_Oz

I advocate putting our children's needs before our adult entertainment needs. Is that too much to ask?

Maybe I'm a dinosaur, but I am upset with how "sex", "love", "intimacy" and various aspects of "gender" are portrayed in the mass media. I am concerned with how children are portrayed as "sexy" or as "little adults", whether that is in advertisement, dramatic movies or comedies.

I am horrified at how we have allowed eroticism to pervade television to the point that it is present in some form in so many programs at hours when children are watching.

And there are even kids' shows that have unnecessary sexual messages.

Our Increasingly Erotic Mass Media

It has gone way beyond the violent and erotic music videos on channels that are exclusively devoted to that form of entertainment. Violence and erotica pervade the small screen on all channels and at all times.

The little warning in the corner of the screen does nothing to prevent viewing by any but the youngest children who are still dependent on adults or older kids to supervise their every activity.

To some extent, gone are the days when mom and dad and all the kids could sit together and watch television comfortably.

There are times when parents feel so uncomfortable that they leave the room, one going to the bathroom, another to make coffee, leaving the kids sitting alone watching erotic scenes. At other times, the kids get up and go until the disturbing moment passes. As one of my daughters once said as she covered my eyes with her hands, "Mommy, this isn't for you", and she was only 10.

Can the Public Affect What is On TV?

I have seen the power of the "silent majority" to affect what appears on the screen - several years ago, in Israel, there were letter-writing campaigns to firms whose product ads were too sexist and erotic/pornographic - and those ads were removed from the screen!

Yet today many of us seem to have become so desensitized that we no longer register as offensive things that would have blown our fuses years ago. Others among us seem to have become so worn down or just unable to keep up with it all, and so we turn off the set and hope it will all just go away or that kids growing up now won't be all that damaged.

Today's Media is Socially Sanctioned Sexual Abuse of Minors

I am distressed by the entertainment industry that produces material that can only be considered a form of socially sanctioned sexual abuse of minors and I feel that in spite of therapists' sincere
efforts to heal the victims that come knocking at our doors, we are fighting a losing battle.

We can help this individual and that individual.

But beneath our noses, children en masse are being confronted with sexual messages and sexually arousing materials that are contrary to their age-appropriate developmental needs.

Maybe the ever-decreasing age of children who sexually abuse other children is one of the results of this phenomenon; and don't be fooled, it is happening everywhere around the globe.

Is Censorship a Dirty Work?

I am equally distressed by the responses of some people when I raise the suggestion that maybe some form of censorship should be brought back to movies and TV -

"Censorship!?" they respond horrified, "someone will tell me what I can and cannot watch?!"

Yet if it protects the mental and emotional health of all our children, should we not be willing to forgo some sex and violence on the screen, large or small?

Have we become so numbed, so apathetic, that we would rather have the apparent freedom implied by erotic and violent images in our living-rooms than do something to combat the damage now being inflicted on children around the world, next door, or even the children in our own homes?

Or Is Restraint a Sign of Maturity and Healthy Respect for Ourselves?

I am not advocating a return to the dark ages. Just some healthy restraints on an industry that is draining us of our humanity, defining for us gender roles and standards of beauty for "the perfect man" and "the perfect woman", while making a fortune at our expense.

I am advocating that we put our children's needs before our adult entertainment needs. Is that too much to ask?

All of Sheri Oz's Online Articles

Sheri Oz, On Squidoo and Off
A categorized list of all my articles on Squidoo and Wizzley. My articles cover the following topics: Child sexual abuse, travel, social issues, handicrafts, photography, professional writing, and tips for online writing.

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Updated: 03/26/2014, Sheri_Oz
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Sheri_Oz on 02/13/2014

You are so right, cmoneyspinner, about those "teachable moments". That's the best way to handle things these days.

cmoneyspinner on 02/12/2014

I'm a child who grew up on the boob tube. For me it was an educational tool, as well as a great way to enjoy family time together. However, in my day they had “censorship”. Egads! Dare I speak that horrible word?!! :)

But I have to say that I agree with you about TV programs these days that are not suitable for developing and impressionable young minds. I tried and still try to monitor what my children and grand children view. But if something slips in under the radar and I find out about it, I try to use it as a “teaching moment”. The crap is already in their heads. So the best I can do is try to squeeze it into a corner of the mind and replace it with huge dumps of positive and wholesome data and information.

The innocence of childhood is very short! We can't extend the time, so ideally, that critical stage of personality and character development should be short AND sweet!

P.S. We still watch a lot of TV at our house.

VioletteRose on 12/23/2013

I very much agree with you on this.

Sheri_Oz on 05/19/2013

I'm so sorry to agree with you here, Tolovaj. It almost seems like a losing battle. But I put my hope in the observation that things come in returning waves, so maybe there will be a return to sanity?

Tolovaj on 05/19/2013

We live in the world where family ties are loosing strength year after year. More and more power is transferred to educational systems and media and many parents don't even know where and how their kids spend their time. If somebody is willing to take responsibility for his own kid, he can actually be marked as weird.
Being a parent is all about responsibility. But responsibility is not very popular word in these days and TV is great excuse to be irresponsible.

Sheri_Oz on 10/19/2012

Yes, it's a whole different world than the one we grew up in.

katiem2 on 10/19/2012

Yes so true and then there's the internet, youtube and the like. Both of my kids spend a lot of time on wi-fi devices... makes me wonder about it. I often take them away and say, time for a break otherwise they stay on them for countless amounts of time.

Sheri_Oz on 10/18/2012

Thanks, Katie. It is so challenging to find the right balance for our kids between quality programming and the harmful programs. But, as our kids tend to do as we do and not as we say, if we ourselves stick to healthy viewing habits, it seems our kids grow up to do the same.

katiem2 on 10/17/2012

I have always been very careful as to what ad how much television my kids watch. I do appreciate the discovery, history, science and cooking channels as my kids and I both have learned a lot of valuable knowledge. There is an even greater number of programs that are not positive or healthy viewing. Great topic of discussion. :)K

Sheri_Oz on 10/17/2012

I agree with you so much. My daughters don't have a TV even. Glad to see people being responsible about their kids' viewing habits. Thanks for the comment, Brenda.

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