Who's teaching your children? You or the Media?
How times have changed! You know during our own time, our parents could confidently leave us in front of the TV set whenever cartoons were on and have no fear or worry that we would be exposed to ‘worrisome’ stuffs. But today, things have obviously changed.
My first concern came up when on the intrnet, I saw this fun rhyme that was indirectly condoning ‘lying’ – “A father catches his son lying and instead of correcting him, they both share a good laugh over the matter’. I was worried. Really, what value was my daughter supposed to learn from that?
Then as my daughter began to progress from the UK channel CBeebies to other more mature channels, I realized that flying across all these supposedly ‘children friendly’ platforms were ‘good witches’ and ‘nice monsters’. Call me old school, but I couldn’t help worrying. During my own time, the witch was the horrible, wicked woman who tried to kill poor Snow White and as for the monsters – they were the monstrous creatures that tortured the unsuspecting citizens of the town. Even taking a hint, from our Nigerian culture, ‘witches’ are those people with that dark, evil side and no good, sensible member of society will flaunt any form of association with one. But now, according to the media, you can be a witch or a monster if you want to. Only be sure to be a ‘good’ one. Well, try telling that to the Nigerian society we live in.
Of more recent, I have come across even more controversial concepts being pushed to the kids via these media outlets. All this has made me realize that I cannot afford to leave my child alone in front of the TV set at this tender age, when she hardly knows her ‘right’ from her ‘left’. Even when the channel seems children friendly, every program must still be screened. Even when the program passes your ‘parental’ test over and over again, still don’t turn your back because suddenly, the producers may decide to sneak in something modern but very disturbing and out of tune with your own values. I am saying this because of recent one of the few programs I had grown very comfortable with, suddenly threw in a conflicting scene that I found very, very disturbing. Clearly, it was a direct contradiction to both my religious and societal values and I knew that I definitely didn’t want my child exposed to stuffs like that.
So in essence, what am I saying? We live in a free world and I obviously can’t impose my values on the creators and producers of all these children’s programs. Also, eventually my child will get exposed to the conflicting side of life and will have to make her own decision of where she stands as an individual. But at this young impressionable age, my role as a mother is to prayerfully teach her what I believe to be ‘right’ and ‘acceptable’ within our faith and our Nigerian culture so that as she gets older and sees the way other groups do their own things, she will remember what I taught her and make the right decision. As we discussed during our sex education post, my goal is not to try and shield her from reality but to get to her before the world does and let her get her first ‘learning’ from my own book of values. Busy as I am, I have to create that time to regularly sit with her as she watches stuffs, explaining the things that need explaining. From the kitchen, I need to listen in on the programmes she is watching and as I busy myself, cleaning up the house, I mustn’t abandon her to the television altogether.
For those who say it doesn’t matter, quick question for you – ‘now that there are ‘good witches’ and ‘helpful monsters’, would you tolerate being referred to as a witch or a monster? Obviously not! You have been influenced by what you grew up with. But interestingly enough, many people from our generation would not mind being referred to as ‘bad guys’ because growing up, Michael Jackson probably made ‘bad’ sound cool with his song, ’Bad’. That’s just to show how the media and celebrities can mold and shape thoughts, perceptions and ultimately value.