Thursday, June 21, 2007

What the F? Media and parenting

According to a SF Chronicle article on Wednesday, two-thirds of parents surveyed "are very concerned about sex and violence in the media (...)." The article says that these parents are "fighting back" (must say that I loathe both the cliche and the imagery of swinging your fists at the Media Behemoth) by "closely" monitoring their children's television, Internet and other media use.

Yet later in the article, it says that "[m]ore than half of parents reported that their children had televisions in their bedrooms (...)." So, there's got to be some significant overlap between the parents who say they're very concerned and the parents who plop tv's in their kids' bedrooms.

I don't think that all tv is bad. But shows that are worth my and Derek's precious, precious free time are very few and far between. As in, maybe one per season. So we save money by not having cable and just Netflixing. (I love having discovered that I love the noir and screwball comedy genres of the 1930s.)

We watched some tv at my parents' place and were So Wretchedly Bored. I mean, cable choices are cool and all, but - how many HGTV remodels can I watch? How much yum-O and BAM!? How many quick-cut pool/bikini shots with 30 seconds of a music video? My eyelids are getting heavy thinking about it. I learned this by watching tv:

1. There are barely any well-crafted, well-written, well-acted shows out there. It's reality-eqsue, cheap canned-laughs, and 15 second news bits that don't offer intelligent analysis or demonstrate much background research. Suck-o!

2. It's summer and new episodes of "The Office" aren't coming until the fall, so might as well get outside.

As for parenting and media, I'm just going to say it- these parents who are so worried about tv and yet put tv's in their children's bedrooms are truly blowing my mind with their stunning lack of common sense.

The article does discuss the measures that some parents are taking to monitor their kids' media exposure. And there's a sentence or two about how parents are "forced" to talk with their kids about "delicate" topics before they want to. But why is the focus of the article on monitoring and not on communication? Why are we failing at simple, face-to-face communication with our kids? Sure, we can check their email, their voicemail, who, when and what they're IM'ing. But can we talk about it to them? Is there a good way and a good time? If not, why not? What are our real priorities?