I’ve always believed, and still do, that it is the task of the grownup to monitor what children watch, or do not watch, and that censorship should play a minimal role.
For example, a few years ago, when Jason inadvertantly tuned in to “South Park,” and wanted to watch the “cute little cartoon people,” I figured it was my responsibility, not Comedy Central’s, to explain to him that everything isn’t always what it seemed, and that these cute little cartoon people were not exactly a children’s show that he had just never encountered.
By the same token, I feel it is our responsibility to make sure that we know that, due to our time zone, Cartoon Network’s “Adult Swim,” which can be very vile, starts pretty early in the evening here. However disgusting it is, it is earmarked and fairly warned as “Adult Swim.”
I never paid much attention to Disney Channel, nor did I imagine that the role modeling there would have to be monitored very closely by me, the adult.
Then my granddaughter came under the mistaken impression that it was okay for her to act like the character portrayed by Selena Gomez in “Wizards of Waverly Place.” Though in typical Disney morality play fashion, this character usually has to eat her words at the end of the episode, I think the plot level for that is too deep for a 7-year-old.
All she sees is the example of a teenager using manipulation to get what she wants.
It doesn’t stop there, and please do not see this as an anti-Disney stance. I love Disney Channel; I’m simply saying that no matter the media, we grownups have to be awake to what our kids are watching, and the impact on them — even behavior we might find amusing.
There’s the 12-year-old on “Good Luck Charlie.” I swear to you, if this kid was in my classroom, he’d be spending the greater percentage of every day in the corner “time out” desk, if not the principals’ office.
There’s the well known teenage pop star in disguise who — well, be honest grownups, don’t most of us find her obnoxious? Personally, I like to watch that show for Billy Ray’s antics, but his humor is more geared to we adult males. I’m not sure the kids even get why his cluelessness is so funny.
With summer at hand, the TV viewing in our house tends to increase, and since Jace is only 11 and Mikayla only 7, we keep it focused a lot on Disney, Animal Planet, Discovery, History Channel, etc. We’re all fully aware that nobody that age needs to watch MTV, and we’re equally aware that watching “River Monsters” is not going to convince the kid to hit the pool and act like a river monster; that happens often enough anyway.
So if your daughter watches all the “High School Musical” shows and decides it’s her privilege to act like the character played by Ashley Tisdale, instead of the one played by Vanessa Hudgens, isn’t it your job, not Disney’s, to grab the teachable moment?
Clyde Davis is a Presbyterian pastor and teacher at Clovis Christian Middle School. He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org