Family Friendly Can Still Be Fun to Watch!!

Do you remember how when we were kids, swear words weren’t allowed on television? It wasn’t until the ‘90s that even the word “hell” was considered taboo on primetime television. Bras were rarely mentioned, let alone seen and the closest to nudity shows got was unbuttoning a guy’s shirt. Violence was rare and was used only when absolutely unavoidable as a plot device.
Wow, are those days over. Today kids can turn on even family based television shows and hear all manner of language, see more skin than we even knew existed at their age and violence is everywhere. Violence–even brutal graphic violence–is seen as a form of entertainment.
Don’t even get us started on movies. When we were kids, Die-Hard was an R rated movie even though it was considerably less violent than its recent sequels which are rated PG-13. Other movies that would have been considered at least R not so long ago that are now considered PG-13? The Grudge, Dark Knight, and Sucker Punch.
What’s even more difficult is how much violence and sexuality is implied in movies that, otherwise, would seem completely family friendly. The Avengers, for example, is fun and funny and perfectly safe for all ages…until you think about how much death and destruction is actually caused in New York during those battle scenes.
So what are you supposed to do? How do you share your love of geekery and pop culture with your kids without subjecting them to themes you’re not sure they’re ready to absorb? What’s more, how do you do this without driving yourself crazy? The Animaniacs are fantastic but even they can grow old after the dozenth viewing in a row.
Limit Their Time
Exposure itself isn’t really the issue when it comes to desensitization or introducing violence and sexuality too young. It’s the amount of exposure they get that leads to problems. If your kids are constantly sprawled in front of the TV (or their individual screens if you’re trying to cut down on squabbling), they’re going to see more than you’d like them to. Limiting their exposure to pop culture is important. You know how much time your kids can handle, but a good rule of thumb is to limit TV and Movie time to about an hour a day (or even less) and a few hours per day on weekends.

Limit Their Access
In addition to reducing the amount of time they can spend drooling in front pop culture screen “candy,” it’s good to limit their access. For example, instead of allowing your kids unfettered access to the entire Internet, limit them simply to kid and family friendly libraries. For example, allow them to access only the Hallmark Hall of Fame movies on Feeln rather than the entire Feeln library. Yes, most of these networks are mostly family friendly but do you really want your seven-year old watching Molly Ringwald do the lipstick trick in the Breakfast Club while you’re not with her?

Talk to Your Kids a Lot
Don’t forget to talk to your kids about what they’re watching. Even limited exposure can bring up lots of questions or put lots of ideas into young brains. Ask your kids what they’ve been watching and consuming recently. Ask what they think about it. Try to keep an open mind, especially with the questions that might get asked. This is particularly important as your kids near their teen years. Puberty is starting much earlier than it did when we were young and keeping tabs on what your kids are thinking and feeling, especially as they get old enough to make the jump to PG-13 fare, with all of its questionable content, is important.

Watch Together
A lot of parents pre-watch their kids pop culture movies. This is definitely a good plan. This way, if you don’t want your kids to watch it, you can head them off at the pass without worrying about what they’ll see or read. The problem is that a lot of parents stop here. The better plan is to pre-watch and then co-watch your kids’ inaugural viewing of movies. That way you are right there to answer any questions they might have. More importantly you can watch their reactions as they watch the movie for the first time to see if they have questions or concerns that they don’t know how to ask.
Here’s the truth: unless you plan on keeping your kids locked away from the entire world, you cannot completely control their exposure to pop culture and entertainment–especially since its consumption is one of the strongholds of geek culture (you know you want your kids to see Episode VII with you). What you can do, though, is limit their exposure and keep the conversation flowing.



    I find it frightening just how much violence the young mind is bombarded with every day. In so many homes the tv is a substitute babysitter/minder, delivering scenes of horror into our homes, and I don’t mean just films or tv programmes. 24-hour news desensitises us to warfare and devastation, hunger and famine and the obsceneties carried out by one group of people upon others. Parents have to accept responsibility and introduce children humanely to the darker side of human nature so that they may, in their turn, treat others with respect.

  • Donna Martin

    i’m 25 but i still love watching Disney movie like tangled..Disney’s animation has rarely looked more gorgeous, and Alan Menken’s raucous “I Have a Dream” number proves the old Mouse House magic still works wonders.

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