Parental monitoring is a huge challenge nowadays. Controlling or monitoring what our kids watch and read is a huge responsibility. ICTs have exposed us (worse of all children) to diverse contents. Content filters may exist but parental monitoring still faces challenges especially when one considers factors like the curiosity of children, peer pressure and the negligence of adults.
It’s very important to ensure that the content kids have access to is appropriate for their ages. As parents, guardians, educators and adults, we should know that monitoring and regulating what children hear, read, see, listen to, watch, the games they play and what they talk about is a collective responsibility even though the parents have a bigger role to play; parents are the overall supervisors. Monitoring what kids access, especially through ICTs, is of great importance for what they consume remains in their subconscious; supervision has a pivotal role to play in moulding a kids’ balanced mind frame.
Being open minded when dealing with kids is reasonable but parents should know when to step in and draw the line. The misconception that being “open-minded” means exposing children to content above their intellectual capacity to make them smarter has made some guardians lose their guard. This has influenced some parents to the extent that they no longer exercise the deserved involvement over what their kids indulge in. Some even think being open-minded means feeding your kids with everything for them to filter it with time. It has led them not to bother or check if the content their kids interact with is fit for their age and well-being.
It is true that what is considered child friendly content is relative. What is found acceptable in one culture could be judged unhealthy for children in another. Also, parents set different standards and expectations and this has an influence on what they consider to be child friendly. Let’s take the case of the popular cartoon “Tom and Jerry.” While some parents think it’s okay for their kids of all ages, others say it contains a lot of violence. Some adults make the mistake of allowing their children to watch anything that’s animation/cartoon. Some might be surprised to learn that “Boondocks”, “Family Guy” and “The Simpsons” are made for adults.
So don’t be surprised when told that even Disney contents have to be well censored before kids’ consumption. They shouldn’t be granted the chance to watch programs that do not match their ages. It’s rather common to find parents sitting and watching TV programs and movies with underaged kids. This is a common phenomenon with African movies especially those from Ghana and Nigeria and telenovelas. Many of these movies contain implicit/explicit erotic scenes and violent scenes that are not appropriate for kids.
Not everyone neglects parental guidance intentionally. Lack of knowledge has a great influence here. Some of those who shove the regulatory principles for children’s viewer discretion might be doing so out of sheer ignorance. Well, here are some options that can guide you as per the level of parental involvement you have to exercise over what your kids watch.
In 2013, the Motion Picture Association (MPA) modified some ratings that could guide viewing in accordance with age restrictions.
G – General Audiences. All ages admitted for nothing will offend the parents if viewed by children.
PG – Parental Guidance suggested as some material may not be suitable for children. So parents are urged to give “parental guidance.”
PG13 – Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13 (pre-teenagers).
R – Restricted. Requires accompanying adult or adult guardians. Parents are urged to learn about the film before taking their young children with them.
NC-17 – Adults only. No one under 17 is admitted for it’s clearly adults.
Knowledge, they say, is power. You’re what you think, read, watch, talk about etc. We should collectively raise mentally balanced kids by actively participating in their daily routine.