Author: Penny Small | Date: 19 November 2013
When I see a young child watching an episode of Sponge Bob and practically repeating it verbatim I get worried. Watching a reality show on television and seeing young girls celebrating their first communion with a booty popping, hip shaking party and telling the interviewer that they learned their moves from watching Beyonce and Shakira on thetellyoverwhelms me and makes me worry what harm are we doing when we allow the television to parent for us.
While not yet a parent, I have spent enough time around parents to appreciate that parenting is truly a complex, challenging, tiring, full time job. I understand how tempting it must be to sit the child down in front of the television just to keep him quiet for a bit so you can catch your breath for a quick minute. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. You deserve that breather. Not only deserve it but also need it so your sanity remains intact and you can continue to function effectively. All I'm asking is that you take heed to what it is that you are allowing your child to view. Shakira and her hips that don't lie are not suitable nannies for your child. Vybz Kartel and Movado do not sing lullabies and Nicki Minaj despite her baby doll looks is not an appropriate playmate for any little child.
Of course, that's obvious right? No right thinking parent would allow their impressionable child to watch shows and movies geared towards adult audiences. But what about the so-called children's shows?
A parent recently related to me an episode of the infamous Sponge Bob. Where he and his pals decided to embark on a panty raid. So off they go in the dead of the night breaking into girls' homes and stealing their underwear. Really wholesome entertainment for kids isn't it?
About two years ago, I had an experience while babysitting. Trying to find something on television for us to watch, I stumbled on Bratz Babyz. I imagined I'd be watching something sweet and innocent. I expected characters resembling Rainbow Bright or Strawberry Shortcake, characters I liked as a child.
How wrong was I! Each Baby Brat was wearing a belly barring top and matching panties. Their little cherubic like faces were covered with makeup. Cell phones in hand, they ran through the mall making mischief and when caught by the security guard they weaseled their way out of trouble with lots of eyelash batting, sweet-talking and flirtatious movements. I couldn't believe this was considered an innocent television show. What happened to sweet cheerful songs and uplifting themes that I remember from my childhood?
Soon after this experience I discovered the Bratz Dolls. Teenage versions of the Babyz who had now added even more makeup, hair extensions, tattoos and navel piercings. Nothing like the famous Barbie from my time. In recent time Barbie has taken a beating. It's said she propagated negative body image and caused many girls to try to achieve an unattainable level of beauty. Well, if Barbie did all that, can you imagine the damage this overtly sexual and sleazy doll is doing to our little girls? I've since heard that the Bratz Doll has been discontinued. Really can't say I'm broken up about it.
Sad thing is some persons aren't convinced that these things are damaging to children. I've heard some person say it doesn't matter what a child listens to, or watches or what video games they are allowed to play because children don't understand what's really going on. I've never heard a more silly idea. A child's mind is literally a sponge. They soak up everything they see and hear and the also emulate these things.
Just sit and have a conversation with a child from as young as 5 or 6 years old and you will realize just how much they really know. Make no mistake about it; children are highly intelligent creatures. A few of the logistics may be fuzzy but trust me they understand the principles.
The fact that around the region we've got children at the primary school level involved in sexual acts is evidence of the extent of their understanding.
It isn't odd to hear of gang wars in our secondary schools from as young as the first form level. These behaviours didn't appear out of thin air. It was learned in the homes in front of the television screen and on the internet from the music they listen to and the video games they play.
Maybe I'm just an old school type of person, but I'd take Barbie over Bratz any day. Toss away Sponge Bob and give me Sesame Street. Better yet trash the television, the internet, the video games and the nonsensical toys and give our children books. Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Babysitters Club. Any one remembers those?
Photo Credit To The Sanctuary
Editor-in-Chief's Note: Penny Small is a freelance contributor to MNI Alive. She is a Pharmacist by profession, currently residing in the Caribbean.