Tonight, my brother had asked me to watch a cartoon with him, so I had given in and watched. Oddly,I usually find myself too busy to sit down to watch television, but I thought this would be a good way to spend some quality-time with him. I had never watched the cartoon he had asked me to watch with him. So, I fixed my dinner that I had cooked and sat down to watch the cartoon. As I watched I soon saw one of the characters with a joint hanging out of his mouth with the next few words being curse words. This was quite troubling because this seemingly innocent cartoon was anything but innocent. Unfortunately, the parent of any child would probably be fine with their child watching a cartoon. However, I strongly urge parents to just take out time to see what their child is watching on the television screen before giving the remote over to your child. I don’t have any children, but it was unsettling to hear seemingly innocent characters present drug-usage and inappropriate language. Sometimes we may find it easy to just give a child the remote if we’re busy, baby-sitting or doing something of importance, but be warned.
I remember taking an adolescence development class a year ago and it changed my perspective on television. I had a project that forced me to look at two different cartoons and to analyze it with a critical-eye. My professor wanted us to look at the values and ideologies being presented and to find any discrepancies. Of course, we will find what is and isn’t acceptable according to our standard for determining morality. However, I remember just watching and seeing the different roles in which the women/men/girls/boys would play and possible stereotypical roles that certain genders would perform. Or I would watch and see if there was biases being presented in regards to racial-groups or certain religious-affiliations. I was definitely given the opportunity to see how crucial it is in understanding that everything isn’t how it may seem.
This seemingly innocent cartoon was inappropriate for a younger audience. Yes, the network may let you know before the show comes on that the show is rated G,PG, R, and etc. However, cartoons are usually associated with children and being innocent. Sadly, those days of innocent cartoons are over. As a babysitter, parent, teacher, or guardian you have to be proactive in what is being watched in the classroom and at your home. It is almost unbelievable what you will find on television.
So, it’s even more important to realize that these external factors can influence and shape the ideologies of your children which will grow into teenagers and soon after-teenagers. In a Western country, such as America, there is a lot sexuality that is open and freely expressed. So, how does a parent deal with this? The media is swamped with constant images of sex, sexuality and sensuality. Advertisements sell the idea of sex even to young audiences. Children are sexualized at a very young age in these current times. Sometimes we may think that children and teenagers are innocent and aren’t getting affected by the world around them, but they are. The world doesn’t go away because we tell the younger generations to lower their gaze and to stay in those books. No, they are constantly interacting with and within the world around them. They are constantly having to make choices on their own. For some parents, this is really hard to come to terms with, but its the truth.
Not only is it important to realize that things aren’t always how they may appear, but people aren’t always what they appear either. Parents shouldn’t assume that their child or teenager is free from being influenced by the world. They should acknowledge and understand the different factors that are affecting their children. At a certain point, the child will grow into a mature individual and will choose to live their lives as they choose. They are no longer ignorant or helpless, but they are full-thinking beings. And parents will have to be honest with themselves and their teens about the realities of the world. Simply turning a blind-eye isn’t going to eliminate the realities that may face their child/teenager. The only way to create and facilitate healthy relationships with children and teenagers is to be honest and to keep that open line of communication. In keeping that open line of communication, children and teenagers will be more apt to tell about their experiences within the world and will be more apt to vocalizing their concerns.
In a world that is filled with facades and fronts, it is important to keep in mind that everything that glitters isn’t gold. This phrase may known by it’s presence in a song by Aerosmith, but in it is much truth. We can’t always what is on the surface, so we have to open ourselves up to discovering what is under the surface. We can’t believe that children and teenagers aren’t experiencing the ills and bad parts of the world because they appear functional. In sitting down to eat my dinner and watch the cartoon my brother had invited me to, I realized that everything on the outside isn’t always true for what it really is. We have to look beyond exterior appearances and seek to dig deeper. In comparison, we have to stay aware of the world around us and the people that we have under our care. Simply ignoring the world and its effects on others may land those under your care in a bad place and will cause you to live a life of deception. So, remember that everything that glitters aint gold.