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Knowing if a movie is okay for your child..and for you

by on Nov.08, 2009, under Communication, Parenting, Safety, Sensitive Topics

In my last post, I addressed balancing a child’s media diet–how much and when.  As challenging as that  issue is, it is  almost easier to address than the question of content– what media is okay for your child. 

In today’s world of so much, so young,  deciding  what is okay and what isn’t can be daunting. Remember how many of you thought Baby Einstein was a good idea?  Now parents are scrambling for a refund. Who knew? (By the way, I did, and I have been steering parents away from Baby Einstein and all screens for young children for years.)  In response to my last post,  I received a thoughtful, detailed  response from a reader, Sharon Gold.  She recommends a website to help parents to decide if particular movies are appropriate for their children. The website does not judge; it gives information.

“…  I recommend to you and your readers a website called “Kids In Mind” (www.kids-in-mind.com). This website uses objective criteria to rate films on a scale of 0 to 10 in three categories: (1) SEX/NUDITY, (2) VIOLENCE/GORE & (3) PROFANITY. The site also explains in detail why a film rates high or low in a specific category, and, for the parents’ benefit, it lists scenes in the three categories. In addition, the site includes instances of SUBSTANCE USE, a list of DISCUSSION TOPICS that may elicit questions from children, and it sets forth MESSAGES the film conveys. …the site does not make any judgments or age-specific recommendations. ..”

But knowing if a movie is okay for your child may only be half the battle. In today’s highly competetive parenting environment, when parents don’t want their child to be left out, to be the only one who hasn’t seen the show, it is even trickier to make  the tough call and say No! Choosing not to allow your child to see the movie that everyone else is seeing is just that– a tough call. Likely, you’re going to hear about it from your child and from your friends, too.

I use the word choose purposefully. You do have a choice, after all. That may mean that you are bucking the tide, you are a salmon swimming up stream, and that your child calls your “the meanest mom in the whole world,”  but so be it. Only you know your child, and only you know what media content supports not only his current development but also your values.

You will never regret saying no, making the hard call  for now.  No can be revisited. But you can never take yes back. Once the movie has been seen, the images stick and the messages resonate.

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