We’re so careful to choose babysitters and schools and summer camps that provide a great environment for our kids, but the moment our kids get on a device, that curated environment is gone. Heck, the moment I take my daughter downtown, past Victoria’s Secret or the latest nude perfume ad, she’s been exposed to things they’d never allow at her school!
This tension between what we can control and what we can’t…it’s tough! The marketers, the media, the pornographers are all looking for access to their next market – our kids. If they can shape ideas and tastes early, build “brand loyalty” and familiarity, they normalize their presence in our children’s lives.
I can choose not to take my daughter downtown, but there’s a limit to what I can limit. Truthfully, I’m not going to give up my smart phone or turn of my home internet, even though I know that a huge proportion of kid’s exposure to inappropriate content is online, on a device, often a parent’s device, and at home.
How are you helping your child be a critical consumer of media? Are you talking about song lyrics, advertising, film, and social media?
In case you’re thinking “uh-oh, I’m not…”, here’s a place to start: The Media and Cybersexuality video series covers everything from how marketers are influencing kids to how to talk with kids about porn. You’ll get videos from me about mindset, starting conversations, and skill building, plus interviews with experts on social media, sexting and porn, all to stream at your convenience. Check it out!
If you’re thinking, “yup, we’re on top of that”, please share your success stories! I’d love to hear what’s working.
In support of you,
One website that I use as a resource is Common Sense Media – it’s a non-profit that reviews books, movies, video games, apps, etc. based on developmental appropriateness. They break down specific kinds of content so that you can know exactly what your kid will be/has been exposed to in various media forms, or avoid things that are off-limits in your family. It even has discussion questions for families to use. There is a “Parent Concerns” section that covers everything from screen time to cyber-bullying. It is my number one go-to for info on specific media my kids are intentionally consuming, but I can read up on things they have been exposed to elsewhere or their friends are discussing.
Another great resource for conversations starters is Beauty Redefined – a non-profit that battles body objectification. I’m sure I’ll use those more and more as my daughter in particular gets older. For now, I use it predominantly to retrain my own thinking!
I get so frustrated over the unintentional exposure our kids have. I sent my 8yo out to get the mail and he came in with an unsolicited local coupon flyer with a skimpy lingerie-clad young woman advertising liposuction and breast enhancement. Ugh.
Yes, I love Common Sense Media! I don’t know about Beauty Redefined, but I can certainly recommend They Body Positive which has a similar mission. It is frustrating, and all we can do is talk about it – a lot! Thanks for these great resources, Beth!
Its been great to talk with my kids aged 11 and 8 and ask them questions about what they think they are seeing and then talking about what advertisements are usually tricking us into. It was sad but it opened up their eyes to some the idea of non genuine intent out there. I can see they look at things with a more questioning mind now and that is good for them.
Beautiful, Spring! That’s exactly what we’re role playing in the group program right now. I’ve got print ads that are “easy” (Coke, Nike), “medium” (beer commercials, makeup ads), and “triggering” (super sexy, practically porn). Thing is…it’s not that hard to find ads for that last category. I find kids definitely like to know how they’re being tricked and manipulated by marketers, and that it’s actually an opportunity to have some really deep satisfying conversations. So glad you’re doing this for your kids! You’re giving them exactly what they need! I’m cheering you on!!
WHAT DO WE DO NOW, ANYA?? PARENTS, GRANDPARENTS, TEACHERS AND COUNSELORS\
ARE N0T RAISING OUR KIDS! IT’S THE INTERNET, THEIR PEERS, TELEVISION AND ADS ON
T.V. THAT ARE EDUCATING AND RAISING OUR KIDS!! SO WHAT’S THE SOLUTION. IT’S
WISE ONES LIKE YOU WHO CAN SHAPE THE FUTURE. PLEASE THINK ABOUT IT. REGARDS, jean adams
Jean, we can’t stop it or control it! All we can do is talk with them about it. Sometimes you want to cringe and pretend you didn’t just see that ad, or hear that song lyric…but they saw it & heard it too! Pretending like we didn’t just makes it something we don’t talk about, and then they don’t get the counter message. So we actually have to go out of our way to bring up these conversations.