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Childhood exposure to media/ effects?


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Okay so this is a conversation I think about a lot and I'd like to hear some different perspectives. 

When I was a child ages (4-18) my parents granted me pretty much full control over what I watched. Some of the earliest things I remember watching include Nightmare on elm st. , Bad teacher, The babysitters, Hedwig and the angry Inch. So pretty much nothing was off limits and as a kid I was enthralled with movies. I would sometimes watch with my parents and sometimes on my own. 

From what I can tell these movies DID effect me. I've always been more mature but in other ways too. I think they made me more curious and on the flip side they also have given me unsafe ideas about sex and love. Movies like "The Babysitters" inspired me and put ideas into my head that weren't thoughts a 13 y/o should think. Even now in life I struggle with sexuality and maintaining a healthy sex life and sexual image.

In juxtaposition, my life long best friend , was incredibly sheltered and monitored as a child. She wasn't allowed to watch anything without her parents permission. For example, one time when we were probably 12 she came to my house and had to call and ask her parents permission to watch Coraline (the 2009 children's film) for which she was denied. 

The effect of her parents life long watchful eye has also effected her. She is very wholesome and loyal to her parents. However, she is extremely disconnected from reality because of the world her parents have constructed for her. 

So my question is where do you fall ? How much monitoring is healthy and what is depriving your kids of the world. Also do you think media has that profound of effect on kids? I tend to think so because everyone has at least one memory of a movie that deeply impacted them from childhood. I'd love to hear your examples. What do you think?

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I'm personally of the belief that parents (along with other mainstay adult influences) have a more profound affect on children than the media.  

Using the example of your friend—and admittedly using her more as a straw person for a conversation than an actual human, since I don't know her at all—my thinking goes something like: a child will be more affected by a parent's anxieties about "the media" than much of what the child will invariably come across (or be forbidden to see) in the media. On the flip side—using you as a straw person—a child may be more affected by the perception that a parent "doesn't care" what they watch/do/whatever than what they actually watch/do/whatever inside a freedom granted by (perceived) disinterest. 

Of course everyone has a movie that "deeply impacted" them as kids. Probably more than one movie. Along with songs. Along with a certain meal, a snippet of conversation overhead, something innocently glimpsed: people making out, people arguing, and so on. Childhood is an impressionable time: new stimulus coming in daily, and all that stimulus being computed by an ever-changing, still-developing operating system. Adults/parents help give context to all that, both actively and passively. 

 

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I was very very very sheltered. But so was a lot of my generation I don’t think I suffered ill affects. 
 

My son I sheltered as well, I think he has a very balanced view of the world at 23 without being so desensitized to everything and every aspect of life. 

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My parents didn't really censor what we watched. I don't feel particularly affected by what I watched although I chose differently. 

My kids were not permitted to watch violent films, were not permitted to play violent video games and were not permitted to play with toy weapons (or real ones). I don't think it's appropriate for children to pretend to kill.

I also didn't permit them to see depictions of lovemaking in films until they were old enough to understand what was going on.

Both are in healthy relationships with good people. And they are compassionate, caring young adults. 

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It's very individual and depends on the child, the content, timing, context.  My child is 11.  Last night we read a book (yes I still read to him at bedtime, it's awesome and bonding) for his grade level which deals with the topic of death -specifically a 12 year old boy who dies of cancer.  And yes we read it and yes we talked about it and we've read about similar tough topics, talked about 9-11 and the holocaust.  My husband didn't want him to watch Ferris Bueller's Day off a few years ago because of the bad language and we've had similar discussions on an individual basis. The internet is a whole other thing and yes we monitor and watch closely and have open communication and do not let him have a password yet to his own gaming computer.  What I can tell you is even though he's seen/heard of violence and even though he plays certain "shooting" games on Roblox for example "but no blood, Mom!" - he is very cognizant of not using bad language even though he's heard plenty, of  treating people with respect and he's never bullied anyone or been aggressive etc.  

My thoughts are my personal ones -during this pandemic he's had tons of screen time and tons of zoom time daily with his friends (real life friends) and we keep an eye on things and so far so good.  I do not judge what others let their children watch and I see stuff all over the map.  I mean for example CoCo which was an awesome movie also had some pretty scary scenes -he was old enough but I didn't think the toddlers in the audience were.

 

Good question!

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2 hours ago, bluecastle said:

I'm personally of the belief that parents (along with other mainstay adult influences) have a more profound affect on children than the media.

Absolutely agree with what you say, Bluecastle, and indeed I endorse the rest of your post.

Every child is different. Some have vulnerable personalities (nature/nurture), others are resilient.

I was allowed to read books for adults at a very early age (I'm thinking 7/8), and I loved reading. My parents were very forward-thinking sensible people, and I can remember my Dad being amused at my constantly enquiring mind! We were protected but not "helicoptered".  We were made well aware very young that life has unpleasant facets, and people.  I can remember seeing "Night of the Living Dead" (lol) at a very early age.

I sure did get into some scrapes.  My parents were often heard to remark "that one is afraid of nothing".  But what I did have and develop was a strong instinct for danger.

So yes, parents do have the most profound effect on children. 

 

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

I was born in 2002 so I grew up while the internet, social media, and smart phones really began to dominate the world. My parents allowed me to watch TV when I was younger in a reasonable amount, but only things they approved, like PBS Kids for example. I mostly loved to play outside. As I got older, I began to like to go on the computer. My parents had a 1 hour time limit set. I saw a nazi video on YouTube when I was 8 (I didn't know what nazis were at the time, so I asked my parents) and they blocked YouTube from the computer. However, I just found a way to watch it on the family tablet. That and the hour limit was pretty much the last time my parents restricted me. Since the age of 12 I've basically been allowed to do whatever I wanted and be exposed to all the media I wanted. I have mixed feelings on it. On one hand, them being loose allowed me to fit in and experience things I wouldn't have otherwise. On the other hand, I wish they had been more strict. I feel addicted to screens, especially when it comes to social media. I have a dependency on it and use it to validate myself. It's unhealthy. In that area, I wish they'd been more strict. Most of my days are spent on screens when I'm not exercising. It's just so built into my life structure now that I don't know how to change it. When I was younger and they were stricter, I felt like they were being mean. But I think I really understand where they're coming from now. So I guess it's effected me both negatively and positively.

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4 hours ago, Lexi W said:

I mostly loved to play outside.

That's awesome. It was common when I was growing up (80s and 90s), but you hardly see kids playing outside anymore.* I think part of it is due to screen addiction. Another part is due to peoples' fear.

People are just afraid of each other these days. They don't let their kids roam out of sight because everyone is a potential criminal. I think that has a lot to do with the impact of the media. 

We think a lot of the impacts of media on kids, but more should be thought about the impact of media on adults. 

_____________________

*There was a brief interval at the beginning of the Covid lockdown where the kids in the neighborhood were playing outside, but that went away.

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As a kid all there was to do was play outside. I think there were like 5 kid shows on all of TV. 
 

Even when I was an adult TV went off at 11, we had no internet etc. I remember we had a VHS but I was like 19 years old by then. My husband and I didn’t have our first DVD player until our 30’s and then they cost $500. 
 

We got the internet when I was 34 so my son was 3 years old so it was about 2000/2001 maybe. 

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We didn't have a VCR till the late 80s I think (I remember in the early 80s a news story was done on me and we had to call all the friends and relatives to tune in and we have no tape of it -can you imagine that happening today??) - We had no limits on TV watching but we did have a bedtime.  We never had a tv in our room (my son has an unhooked up TV in his room for now).  No internet or computers -got on the internet in the early-mid 90s but no Facebook yet and I don't think I even did instant messaging till later.  I was an adult though.  My son wants discord now and we don't want him to have it.  He's almost 12 and zooms with friends daily because of the pandemic -real friends -it's the best socially -best given covid but also they really do socialize.  I saw my first R rated movie at age 11 (Saturday Night Fever!!) and we saw tons of horror movies when I was too young lol.  

I didn't really get into Facebook until after my son was born and I'm glad -it would have made me crazy as a geriatric pregnancy person -all the scary stuff etc (I avoided searching on the internet for anything for the most part -just went to a few very trusted safe sites on that topic).  

I don't want my son to have a phone yet (he doesn't need one anyway) and he is not on social media.  i really dislike seeing young kids like him on Facebook, I dislike the sorts of photos parents post that the kids have no control over and that could really prove very embarrassing or awkward to them later.  Maybe some parents ask their kids in advance but I doubt it.  I may have written this above but I don't post photos of him, I ask others not to either. So, there are just a few- one that was in the newspapers of us some years ago (photo from behind), one when he was a baby and my friend visited and then there are photos of him on trusted FAcebook groups involving his school/camp/after school activities but they don't tag.  We're ok with that.

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19 minutes ago, Batya33 said:

We didn't have a VCR till the late 80s I think (I remember in the early 80s a news story was done on me and we had to call all the friends and relatives to tune in and we have no tape of it -can you imagine that happening today??) - We had no limits on TV watching but we did have a bedtime.  We never had a tv in our room (my son has an unhooked up TV in his room for now).  No internet or computers -got on the internet in the early-mid 90s but no Facebook yet and I don't think I even did instant messaging till later.  I was an adult though.  My son wants discord now and we don't want him to have it.  He's almost 12 and zooms with friends daily because of the pandemic -real friends -it's the best socially -best given covid but also they really do socialize.  I saw my first R rated movie at age 11 (Saturday Night Fever!!) and we saw tons of horror movies when I was too young lol.  

I didn't really get into Facebook until after my son was born and I'm glad -it would have made me crazy as a geriatric pregnancy person -all the scary stuff etc (I avoided searching on the internet for anything for the most part -just went to a few very trusted safe sites on that topic).  

I don't want my son to have a phone yet (he doesn't need one anyway) and he is not on social media.  i really dislike seeing young kids like him on Facebook, I dislike the sorts of photos parents post that the kids have no control over and that could really prove very embarrassing or awkward to them later.  Maybe some parents ask their kids in advance but I doubt it.  I may have written this above but I don't post photos of him, I ask others not to either. So, there are just a few- one that was in the newspapers of us some years ago (photo from behind), one when he was a baby and my friend visited and then there are photos of him on trusted FAcebook groups involving his school/camp/after school activities but they don't tag.  We're ok with that.

Yeah I think it was 1986 when we got a VHS. 
I didn’t have FB until my 40’s. I think I was 45. I had MySpace before that. 
 

But, yes, our lives were not heavily documented. 

My son had a phone at 13 , but he could only make emergency phone calls and texts that’s it. I would put $10 into the account $5 of which paid for 250 texts for the month. He had that Samsung slide out forever. Then he had an iPod touch . Then he graduated a few years ago to the regular smart phone that he pays for himself now. 

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I grew up before the Internet, cell phones, video games, etc.  When I was a child, all of my neighborhood friends and I rode our bikes, hung out at each others yards and suburban houses and it was an idyllic, carefree childhood.  We didn't watch much TV at all.  We saw each other in person and it seems that the Internet, social media and electronics have the opposite effect meaning it's very isolating.

The Internet, social media, texting, messages, emails, etc. turn into huge time traps.  Whenever I turn my phone, PC and electronics OFF, it's very liberating.  No one bothers me and I become very productive and industrious at the home front.  All of my chores such as housecleaning get done and over with, errands are taken care of, I cook a nice meal and I enjoy reading paper books.  Suddenly, there's more time! 

My sons are not consumed with the Internet, social media, texting, cell phones and the like.  Sure, they have friends.  However, they don't allow electronics to consume their lives. 

We belong to church and during pre-pandemic, our social lives revolved around our local church.  We serve the community, feed the homeless every month, have our in home Bible study groups, youth groups, ministries, serving, etc.  It is clean living and we feel safe in our bubble.  This kept us very busy pre-pandemic.  We miss our church life. 

When my dog was alive (she died at age  14 two years ago), my husband and I took her for daily walks twice a day.  Our sons would take turns taking our Golden Retriever for walks as well.   Now, the four of us take daily walks during random times.

We're tele working or working from home. 

Nowadays, we eat cozy home cooked dinners together and bring out the card and board games.  We're transforming into old-school habits and it's actually quite refreshing. 

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1 hour ago, Seraphim said:

Yeah I think it was 1986 when we got a VHS. 
I didn’t have FB until my 40’s. I think I was 45. I had MySpace before that. 
 

But, yes, our lives were not heavily documented. 

My son had a phone at 13 , but he could only make emergency phone calls and texts that’s it. I would put $10 into the account $5 of which paid for 250 texts for the month. He had that Samsung slide out forever. Then he had an iPod touch . Then he graduated a few years ago to the regular smart phone that he pays for himself now. 

Yes- so my son is home now and last year took the school bus so he didn't need a phone.  I wasn't really on facebook either till my 40s -gave birth at 42 as I've written.  We just got my son a gaming computer this year because of the pandemic.  I'm glad we did as we were sharing my PC before this and it was a pain.  I also have a work-issued laptop but it's only for work.

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3 hours ago, Jibralta said:

That's awesome. It was common when I was growing up (80s and 90s), but you hardly see kids playing outside anymore.* I think part of it is due to screen addiction. Another part is due to peoples' fear.

People are just afraid of each other these days. They don't let their kids roam out of sight because everyone is a potential criminal. I think that has a lot to do with the impact of the media. 

We think a lot of the impacts of media on kids, but more should be thought about the impact of media on adults. 

 

Great points. I'd put most of the shift on fear, rather than smartphones—though of course the "news" feeds of smartphones certainly feed those fears.

When I was young (80s and 90s) we kids would tell our parents we were going out, and then we'd meet up: at the park, in the woods, whatever, with the deal being we'd be home before it got dark. There were certain roads we weren't allowed to cross until certain ages, but all in all a tremendous amount of trust was put in us by the adults. This way of being was celebrated in pop culture: Goonies, E.T., and so on. 

Flash forward to today. I read an article not long ago about the town I grew up in, and how two kids were playing in a park two blocks from their house. Police were called. Rather than take the kids two blocks to their home, the kids were taken into Child Protective Services, the parents charged with neglect. Sounds like a pretty traumatic episode—for the kids, who found themselves at the mercy of the Adult Anxiety Complex in a way that might leave a deeper mark than anything YouTube has offer. 

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Yeah, it is totally weird kids can’t play without adults hovering around. We were outside unless it was meal times or bedtime and your mom wasn’t watching every second. You were trusted to sort out your own issues. 

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When my bio Dad was in the picture (from birth to adolescence) there was no censorship in our house at all.  We watched and listened to whatever we wanted.  But this also caused some problems for me as a kid.  I remember being around 4 (Because I was still in preschool) and watching Friday the 13th with both of my parents.  And I didn't understand that what I was seeing wasn't real.  Here I am thinking people are actually getting killed on film and my parents are watching this for entertainment.  They used to watch horror movies all the time and make fun of me for not looking during the bloody parts. 

And they also watched a lot of true crime stuff.  I remember seeing documentaries about serial killers and stuff when I was little. And my dad was really paranoid so he used stuff like that to keep us kids in line.  "See, that little girl was cut up into pieces because she talked to strangers.  You better not ever talk to strangers."  Etc. 

I saw Silence of the Lambs when I was around 10 and here's my Dad like, "You know this is a true story right?  And you know it took place in our state right?  And they never caught the guy.  He's still out there doing this to people."  Not true.  Silence of the Lambs doesn't take place in the state we live in.  And it's not a true story, either.  Yes, the character Buffalo Bill was loosely based on Ed Gein, but that doesn't make it a true story.  And Ed Gein was caught.

My sister is a couple years younger than me and when she was in 2nd grade she was peeing and pooping herself at school a lot.  She was potty trained.  So it's not like she just didn't know to get up and use the bathroom.  My parents had the theory that she was too scared to go to the bathroom by herself.  Well I was the family scapegoat so they blamed me.  "Oh, all those horror movies you watch... now your sister can't use the bathroom at school!"  All I could think was "Excuse me...?  You mean all the horror movies I watch with you guys?"  

Then when my parents split up and my stepdad entered the picture, he wanted everything to be really censored.  This was really weird for us kids.  Suddenly we aren't allowed to watch King of the Hill, Family Guy, American Dad, Roseanne, etc... My sister and I were teenagers and he's trying to get us to watch the Charley Brown Christmas Special and stuff.   My brother was a huge Godsmack fan and he suddenly wasn't allowed to listen to Godsmack.  That didn't last long though.  My Mom stepped in and said she never restricted her kids in that way and it was a little late to start now.  

I did spend a good chunk of my childhood terrified, though.  Because when I was really little I didn't understand that there was this whole big world out there and that a lot of these killers in documentaries were far away.  When I was a kid Dahmer and Gacy could have lived the next street over for all I knew.  I didn't like to sit with my back to the doorway or the windows when I was little because I was afraid of being grabbed.  I was terrified of the dark as a kid.  My sister had a lot of these same issues when she was little too.  

As a teenager I was the Goth girl in my high school.  (And I grew up in a small town where mostly everyone was ultra conservative Christian.  My family was already considered weird because we were Catholic.)  I wrote tons of horror stories as a teenager, also.  Looking back a lot of them weren't very good.  I wrote horror fanfiction as well.  My fanfiction wasn't about characters hooking up, though.  I would write sequels for horror movies that didn't have sequels yet, etc.  And I was really confused when my parents thought this was bad and that I might be disturbed.  All I could think was "Well you guys raised me on this stuff.  What the hell did you expect?"

But now as an adult I am such a horror nerd...  I go to horror Cons.  I've actually worked behind the scenes on a few indie horror movies.  I'm a professional artist and my work has a creepy unnerving feel to it (Well, about half of it does, I have two pretty different styles.)  And I'm also really into true crime. 

I don't have kids, and have no plans to have them.  But if I did I would probably be a little more selective about what I let them see at a young age.  I wouldn't shelter them, but I wouldn't be showing my four year old Friday the 13th or letting my ten year old watch Silence of the Lambs. 

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So where I live he can't go outside by himself but I stopped hovering as he got older  -I'd watch him from a park bench.  And - yup I called the cops once - in this situation.  There was  a lake near the playground -huge park - a mom found a 3 year old boy wandering near the lake.  Alone.  She brought him to the playground.  We tried to find a parent or caregiver. Couldn't.  10 minutes later a group of us decided I would call the police and the other moms took care of the boy who could have drowned.  As I was on the phone to 911 the mom arrived.  On a bicycle.  She'd left her older 12 year old daughter in charge of the 3 year old.  The girl actually was in the playground but let her little brother wander off and didn't tell us she was his sister when we had him in the playground.  I told the 911 operator we'd located the mom and all was well. The mom was really mad at me.  Wow.  This is why I'm fine - in neighborhoods where minors have to be supervised in a playground -for people to take steps to make sure there is a parent or caregiver around and if not do what it takes.  That little boy could have drowned.

In another situation I had my son with me at Starbucks -he was 6 or 7.  We went there regularly -down the block from our apartment.  I wanted him to do something independent so I told him to go get us more napkins -across the store - I could still see him though but didn't tell him that. As he walked across the store and older gentleman keenly watched him and then turned around and stared at me as if I was abandoning my child lol.  I stared right back at him and my son returned with the napkins! I've had strangers behave inappropriately to him on city buses with me there so I can only imagine what would happen if I weren't.  I hate that "helicopter mom" and also "free range" labels.Most parenting is individual and depends on the kid and defies categorization.  That's how I think it should be.  

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I thinking parenting today is completely different in that regard to when we were kids. When I was a kid I don’t know anybody’s mother anybody’s mother who hovered around, like ever. I would routinely wander around with my little brother who was 3 1/2 years younger than me. Wandering around the Prairie, running around the neighbourhood. Playing in the yard. 

I would say I hovered with my child. Different time in society. 

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Those shows and movies have age ratings. Go by that as a reference.

The best exposure is how and what you talk to your children about...make sure you answer their questions truthfully. And yes expose them to current events to some degree as well. I was like 8-10 years old when I watched as they displayed the body count on the nightly news from the Vietnam war. My parents explained everything to me as best as they could as to what was going on. The effect it had on me is that I'm a war history buff. I am glad I saw a part of history as it played out and the politics involved...Watergate etc. I find that I benefited from it. TV shows, movies, I watched everything. I don't recall ever having negative feels, or having nightmares. Solid enjoyment, especially with horror movies.....love them.

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I think too the individual child needs to be considered. Are they an anxious child ,are they a very emotional child,  are they a very calm child etc.

My very early childhood was full of a lot of trauma. It left me very emotional and anxious. Therefore my mother limited any exposure to anything which was going to cause me more trauma. She had already figured that I had witnessed my father trying to kill her I didn’t need to witness any more drama of any kind especially not on a TV she could control. 

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4 hours ago, Seraphim said:

I am a total horror fan too but maybe because I wasn’t allowed to watch anything more racey than Little House and some episodes of THAT my mom found objectionable.

Did you get to watch James at 15? I remember they had an episode he was going to have sex for the first time. It never showed anything, my friend was so disappointed that they made it so lame lol.

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