Today’s media experts claim that watching television does not have a negative impact on kids. The exception they say,is made when your kids watch too much television and are therefore not getting enough exercise or socialization. You’re repeatedly told that the violence that’s aired doesn’t create violence in children.
Why is it that you’re seeing an increase in violence among young people then? It is now common to hear of teenagers who bring loaded weapons into school and open fire on their fellow students and teachers? Other kids, not even in their teens, are exhibiting extreme violence in a myriad of different ways.
This is scary stuff for any parent. You worry about your kids — it’s part of the job description. You want to be sure they’re safe and in a safe environment. In the past, parents had the luxury of getting to know their kids’ friends and parents. That’s still a good idea, even if it may be a little more difficult due to busy schedules and large schools. It’s at least a good idea to encourage your children to surround themselves with other like minded kids.
It used to be that people didn’t worry about their children when they were at school. School was a sanctuary. Yes, there were bullies who threatened to take lunch money, but parents were more worried about the kids picking up a bug or breaking an arm on the playground than being shot by a classmate.
So how does a parent balance keeping his or her children safe without making them fearful of the world or paranoid?
You really don’t want to encase your kids in a giant bubble. You want them to experience life and all the wonders that are available to them. Your job is to help them be aware of all the good there is in the world and how great it feels when they’re surrounded by true friends, whether they’re enjoying nature, playing games, or just going to school together.
One of the places to start is by helping your kids recognize the types of television shows that support their happiness and those that do not. When your children are very young, you can directly monitor the programming they watch. As they get older, this becomes impractical if not downright impossible.
Watch shows that meet your parenting goals as a family. They don’t all have to be educational programming, although there’s nothing wrong with that, either. Discuss the shows you watch with your kids. Explore how you feel while you watch the show.
What sort of emotions come up? Did you feel encouraged or discouraged as a result of the show; uplifted or pushed down? Did you laugh or cry? Did you feel anger? Did the show motivate you to take action? Did it make you aware of how different things are for other people?
If your children are older and insist on watching a show that you feel is too violent or otherwise inappropriate, discuss your feelings about it with them. Your son may be watching it because it’s cool or because his friends watch it. Maybe he just watches because it gets his heart pumping with excitement. Ask him to check in with his Internal Guidance System while he’s watching the show to see how it feels, during and after the program. Be willing to have a dialogue about the parts of the show that bother you.
You can watch television shows that have violence without becoming violent yourself. One of the keys to doing this is being able to separate the television fantasy from real life. Unlike the actors on television who will get up, walk away, and get another role to play, real people bleed. They feel pain, and potentially die as a result of violence.
When you allow your children to tap into their IGS and know what it would feel like to be both the perpetrator and victim, they will be guided towards non-violent solutions in real life.
Your job then, as a parent, is to actually allow your children in age-appropriate ways to experience what they do not want and what they do want. You can then help them to discover non-violent ways to get the excitement they are looking for or the independence to choose not to watch something just because everyone at school is watching it.
Please feel free to comment.
© 2014. Sharon Ballantine. All Rights Reserved.