Is there an age appropriateness for film and media? Should we let kids see any movie out there? It seems that some parents seem to think it’s ok and others are horrified at the idea. In a recent Facebook discussion, a parent with young children posted an article When Can I Watch Indiana Jones with my Kids? — it certainly generated a lively discussion and got me to thinking about the topic.
I’m a parent of two children – ages seven and eleven. We all enjoy media and I’m definitely a fan of film. As a child, I was not allowed film or television until my teen years or just before my teen years. And though it was difficult for me, I was in elementary school when Star Wars came out in 1977, reflecting back I don’t feel like I missed much and it provided a different type of upbringing than most other kids.
I firmly believe that we should not legislate how parents raise their children. I don’t believe in the Motion Picture Association’s (voluntary) ratings system. And as a librarian, I definitely don’t believe in censorship because what you think is inappropriate may not be inappropriate for everyone. Parents need to determine the best method to expose their children to books, movies, music, sexuality, etc. Personally, I’m appalled when I see kids in movies with strong violence or significant profanity or sex. For example, the Dark Knight was a great film but I wouldn’t want my kids to see it yet but it would be cool if my 11-year old would watch Star Wars with me. The graphicness, the energy, etc. of a movie from 1977 versus a film from 2008 seem very different to me. This is my opinion, my judgement, and I should be able to make this decision for my children.
Some would argue that by exposing children to violence, sex, and profanity that we are helping them to grow-up and be stronger adults. Ultimately, I believe in letting children be children. There’s nothing wrong with protecting them from the horrors of the world for a while. Children will be adults in no time and the innocence of childhood is a real jewel.
My kids watch movies on Netflix and have seen a handful movies in the theater. My 11-year old has no interest in seeing movies in the theatre because of the sensory overload, but he’ll watch some (very few) at home. This is a case where what might be appropriate for your kid is definitely not for my kid. We’ve stuck to pretty tame and family orientated films, though I’ve tried to get them to watch Star Wars (they aren’t interested). I’m fine with that.
Ultimately, the guides for parents are nice to have but I think every parent has to try making the best decision they can on what to expose kids to in the media (a false reality, at best). Watch the movie first is a good practice. I’m not a prude, but the innocence of childhood is an important thing to protect. What do you think?