Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Adult themes in media, and my family

Over the last month or two I've been churning my thoughts, regarding adult themes in media, and my comfort level with exposing these themes to my kids.  At first I thought it was going to be really complicated. 


The basic tension is pretty simple for me. Comes down to two things really.

First, is this going to traumatize my kid?  I'm not playing Gears of War with  my 9-yr-old daughter, I know her well enough to know that it would give her nightmares.

Second, when my kid sees an adult theme in media (games, tv, etc), how likely are they to emulate it in real life?

If you know your kids, the first point is almost a no-brainer. It's so automatic for me that I wasn't even going to mention it at first.  Sure, sometimes there'll be mis-steps, but live and learn. 

It's the second that has been creating tension in me lately.  Why am I completely relaxed when playing Gears of War with my oldest son (and we have a *blast*, by the way), but I get uneasy when watching Big Bang Theory (BBT)?  Here's why:  in Real Life, my son is not going to carry around a giant gun/chainsaw weapon and mow down 'roided out aliens with it.  He may, God forbid, within the next couple years wake up with a hangover and a girl in his bed and think "Oops, what happened?" (a trope in many a sitcom aimed at 20- to 30-somethings..we've seen it in both BBT and The Guild). This is also why I've never let my son play Grand Theft Auto.. the action is over the top, sure, but at it's base, it just some dude on a shooting spree. I've seen that too often in the news to call it fake or imaginary. No thanks.

One more note. Underlying both points is a basic assumption: I know what my kids are playing/watching.  If it's a game that's rated M, it's off limits even to my oldest, unless I've played it with him. 

What do you think? What litmus test do you parents out there use?

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