Saturday, December 02, 2006

Surprise! Hollywood Influences Children.

I know that some of you are shocked by this, but a recent study has confirmed what many have been saying all along, graphic movies have a negative impact on our children. According to an article in the Washington Post and re-run in the Toronto Star, there was a substantial difference in risky behavior between 9-12 year-olds whose parents allowed them to watch 'R' rated movies and those who didn't.

Remember that in Canada the ratings system is quite different, so many movies rated 'R' stateside are actually '14A' here or even 'PG13.' According to the study done by researchers at Dartmouth Medical School, children with permissive parents were 40% more likely to consider using cigarettes or alcohol than their more restricted peers.

This simply confirms what many parents have already assumed to be fact - GIGO "Garbage In, Garbage Out." There have been voices speaking up for years but they have largely been ignored by the mainstream media or dismissed as crackpots. Movie critic Michael Medved has been an especially articulate spokesman in favor of some self-control from Hollywood (don't hold your breath). A couple of books have spoken specifically to this issue, incuding: "Hollywood vs. America: Popular Culture and the War on Traditional Values" and one he co-authored with his psychologist wife: "Saving Childhood: Protecting Our Children from the National Assault on Innocence."
We live in a complicated age. Technology has enabled us to have instant access to news and entertainment from anywhere in the world to wherever we happen to be. This new freedom is not necessarily a good thing if we haven't learned how to discern. This is particularly important for the age group mentioned in this study. We've focused a lot in our society on the unhealthy diets which our fast-food culture has inflicted on our kids, but what about the junk food for the brain that passes for entertainment. Regarding the morality of the movie and music industry the question seems to be "how low can you go?"
I guess the good news coming out of this study is that parents who took an active role in the viewing choices of their children were actually able to make a difference. Don't give up on being parents. Your kids may fight you, your friends may criticize you, liberal media may mock you, but your kids need you. Hang in there!
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