Being that we are always learning as parents and most of the time learning on-the-go, censorship can be a scary subject because there seems to be little room for error to get it right. There are so many things that can´t be unseen or unheard, ESPECIALLY at such young impressionable ages. We all know we do not want our children being exposed to certain things, but keeping up with the ever-changing technology and culture is far from easy. Do we change our standards with the changing standards as well?
When I was in MIDDLE SCHOOL, these skinny little-multicolored jelly bracelets took over the school. I had to have at least one or two on my wrist just to feel like I was a cool kid or more importantly, avoid not being a cool kid. After trading around for a few of my own, I learned that the different colors meant different things; sexual preferences and relationship status. Though these meanings were not taken seriously by most, the bracelets were still a topic of conversation. So at 12 years old, I was advertising my interest in intimacy and the opposite sex or perhaps the same sex before I understood what any of it really meant. I remember getting home and throwing the bracelets off of me in horror!
So fast forward to 2018. As Halloween approached this year, Halloween-themed-everything quickly and completely took over. When I was growing up, however, I remember feeling like celebrating Halloween was optional. For different reasons, we may choose not to partake in certain holidays or cultural traditions. But, for the few moments, I need to take a shower or work on the stove with my hands toddler-free, there weren’t any kids´ show options available for us that didn’t have something to do with Halloween.
Furthermore, I realized I couldn´t trust my privacy settings, search history, and/or favorites list to keep my 2-year-old in a circle of regular programming. From the TV to Youtube Kids, to the store, to our cousins, recognizing Halloween is completely unavoidable.
Then, my daughter was watching what I thought was an innocent YouTube program of common songs and nursery rhymes. Halfway through a 20-minute video, a song came on praising ¨blue eyes,¨ ¨curly hair,¨ ¨dimples,¨ and, ¨fair skin.¨ Only one profile of beauty was praised in the entire song. Had I known, I would have never chosen this video for my daughter who looks different from this profile.
I had to come to terms that simply not exposing my daughter to the things I was not interested in her learning, may not be an effective form of censorship. I will have to actively censor what she learns from other people and media sources. But how!? Technology and culture are changing as I type this and I can barely keep up now! And I am only 26. Needless to say, I am a bit of an overwhelmed first-time parent on this matter.
Where to begin?
It is a great idea to start by looking at the existing literature on censorship. There are some important points made to be considered before formulating your censorship philosophy.
- Guidelines for Dealing with Censorship of Instructional Materials
- TV Parental Guidelines
- The National Coalition Against Censorship (NACA)
4 Quick Habits To Develop
- Spot Check. Regularly and randomly read or listen in to what your child is reading or watching.
- Do your own research. Do not always just take your child’s word for it. Research what a book series is about when you buy the books for your daughter. Do a quick google search of the music artist and lyrics that your son likes so much.
- Place TVs and computers in public spaces rather than private spaces. Some say this is the greatest factor in the development of inappropriate media use.
- Do not ever underestimate what your kids already know. Talk to them. We may think they are too young to be worried about certain topics, but it is always nice to know you taught your children the correct information before someone else teaches them incorrectly. Parents Explain the Birds and the Bees
Where to end?
I think we should never stop doing a job until we know the job is done. So since WE ARE raising little people whom we eventually want to be independent and responsible members of society…perhaps, we can measure our success when our children are censoring themselves. After all, I did not have one conversation about those Jelly Bracelets with my mom. It was my raising that allowed me to handle the situation on my own.