Thursday, February 4, 2010

Who's hot when you're seven?

So I’m sitting at the table reading Ahab’s Wife. I picked it up at the library on a whim and wow, Mamas, what a beautifully written book! It’s left me on the verge of tears several times today. Not at all what I expected. I’d highly recommend it, especially during a blizzard, which happens to be the case right now.

Anyhoo, I’m at the table reading and my son is watching “Johnny Test,” a Cartoon Network show. It’s a pretty basic boy-style cartoon. Johnny is a kid who has adventures with his talking dog and his two genius sisters who get in him into trouble all the time with their science experiments. Whatever.

Of course with my highly developed mother-hearing, I’m reading my book and listening to the TV at the same time when it strikes me… within just a few minutes of programming, the kid in the cartoon has referred to one of his classmates as being “hot” about 3 times. What? Oh really? Time to put the book down and see what my kid is watching.

Why is it that a show that is rated TV-Y7 (suitable for kids ages 7 and up) has to include numerous references to kissing, hotness (of both males and females) and various levels of dating? I’m looking at my son, who is staring blindly at the television and I'm wondering, what the hell does he know about kissing, dating and looking hot?

Sure he probably knows what it means in context, but these are not activities or references that have anything to do with his 7-year old lifestyle. So why are they so prominent in the shows that are geared toward his age group?

I’ve noticed this on other shows, also. The references generally don’t add anything to the plot. They’re just sprinkled around for …what?... shock-value? cool-factor? Give me a break.

So of course, in true Reign style, I’ve got some helpful references to help parents navigate the 24/7 barrage of children’s programming. Use them to get the scoop on the shows that are being marketed to our kids and to explore the impact of this type of media on developing minds.

True Child --Imagines a world where boys and girls are free from stereotypes so they can learn, grow, and reach their full potential. They offer in depth reviews of popular kids shows.

CCFC -- The only national organization devoted to limiting the impact of commercial culture on children.

CMCH -- Created by the Center of Media and Child Health, this website strives to educate and empower people to create and consume media in ways that optimize children’s health and development.

Ask the Mediatrician -- A forum where science-based answers and practical solutions are provided for parents and caregivers. The really indepth Q&A will give you lots to think about.

Common Sense Media -- Dedicated to improving the media and entertainment lives of kids and families. CSM offers unique reviews of popular shows from both parents' and kids' perspectives.

Shaping Youth Created by former ad exec Amy Jussel, Shaping Youth is an invaluable resource that explores how marketing and media impacts kids.

Yeah, it would be easier to just turn off the TV, but these are nice, too. And they're a good way to stay informed, so enjoy.

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