Saturday, December 29, 2012

You let your kids watch that? This year's thoughts on my kids' media consumption

Over the past day, I've been engaged in a conversation with some other moms about what our kids watch. The conversation started with a question about taking a 9 year old to see The Hobbit . (In the end, the mom took the 9 year old, but she could only sit still for an hour) It's always interesting to see the range of family values reflected in such decisions. ( for example, one family did not let their child read The Hobbit  until 13; I required my 10 year old to read it this month, AND write a review!) Here follows a bit of my side of the conversation with the names changed to protect privacy:

It's individual. SO individual. In most matters I fall on the permissive end. Cycling back to the original Tolkien themed question, when I say my kids grew up on these books and movies I mean *really* grew up on them. As in, one of the first things Turbo said was "gollum, gollum". He used to creep around in only a diaper imitating Gollum. The Eldest first read The Hobbit at 5, and in fact it marked the end of reading aloud to him ( we read more slowly aloud than he could to himself, and he wanted more, faster. ) However, it was some years before we let them watch the opening sequence of RotK. Beheading orcses? Fine. Smeagol choking is cousin? No.

 I think we may be different than many families in that we, and especially I. tend to lie our fiction to be REALLY fictional. It's almost all sci fi and fantasy. In general, I don't bother with fiction that COULD happen. (obviously, 99.9% of the foreign films our family watches feature giant monsters). So my kids grew up on Tolkien, Harry Potter, Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, comics heroes... you get the picture. Sex is there, but usually implied, and the violence is usually done to defend the weak. Even better, in DW, The Doctor is always looking for an alternative to violence. As they've gotten older, we've tailored things more. Tiurbo can NOT watch any kinds of martial arts film, at all. He will start kicking people and the house. We limit anything with swearing, too. He's way, way more imitative than his siblings.

The teenagers, I don't limit them too much. I limit them less than The DM. When Supergirl was about 10, a bunch of her girlfriends were getting into Twilight. I read the first book, got about 40 pages into the second, and saw the first movie. And I said...."Aw, HELL no!" Rather than forbid it, I first talked to her about the issues I had with the relationship paradigm in them... then I introduced her to Buffy. And yes, it started getting intense and adult a few seasons in, but I talked to her about these things. I got so that she and the Eldest started rolling their eyes the moment I reached to pause Buffy. Sorry kid, you want to watch adult things, you'll have adult conversations. We've been watching The Big Bang Theory with the older two since season two. This fall we started watching How I Met Your Mother with them. It's hilariously inappropriate and and stretches belief enough for me to enjoy.

Supergirl has recently developed an interest in Stephen King. I was reading Stephen King at 7, which may explain why I am so "free" with what my kids watch and read. My mother never regulated my media consumption, and yet I grew up to he hard working, non violent, heavily involved in my church and happily married. Back to Stephen King  A few weeks ago she was reading IT, but then informed me she was returning it to the library unfinished because the level of swearing made her uncomfortable. Self regulation. She has it so I can let her.

What about you? How do you decide what you let your kids watch?


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