Does anyone else sense an inconsistency in the “repsonsible parenting world” in the emphasis on proper food monitoring for children versus the lack of emphasis on filtering children’s entertainment?
Parents are increasingly conscientious about what their children physically consume- that it be organic, hormone- free, nutrient -rich, low in sugar, low in sodium, unprocessed, etc. But discussions with any sort of analogous standards for entertainment are conspicuously missing.
Take parenting magazines or parenting blogs, for example. Articles on how to achieve these kinds of goals for a child’s physical body outnumber articles about discretion in entertainment by a significant margin.
Why is this the case? The entertainment industry is no less exploitative of children for the sake of their own bottom line. I’m convinced that they are every bit as indifferent to a child’s true well-being as the fast food industries are, for example.
And it’s not as if it mattered less. Certainly, the effects of entertainment on a child’s inner person strike more centrally at his or her humanity, and I would argue- are more difficult to reverse than the physical issues.
Sometimes I’ve wondered if part of the problem is simple exhaustion. A parent can only be hyper vigilant about so much. The amount of time required to keep up with the latest research, track down the healthiest foods, and the energy it takes to enforce good eating standards on resistant children can leave a mom feeling a bit pooped.
As politically incorrect as this may be, I’d like to suggest that parents who find themselves in this boat give themselves permission to relax a little in the food department. Some parents certainly manage to achieve vigilance in both areas (and personally, I am full of admiration) but as a general rule, it seems to me that the entertainment side of things often suffers. In particular, I would really like to see more discussion of:
- the effect of stock, commercial characters on imaginative play
- the subtle ways that media and toys can undermine the values a family hopes to instill
- addiction to sensationalism in children’s media
- the pressure that children can feel from the media to grow up quickly
- the ironic uniformity of taste that commercial media breeds in children (while often simultaneously touting non-conformity as a high value)
Why do you think talk about eliminating unhealthy entertainment is not a bigger part of the discussion on responsible parenting? What in regard to children’s entertainment would you like to see discussed more often?