Parental Guidance on Movies Makes a Difference

A new study from Dartmouth Medical School (DMS) reveals that monitoring our kids’ media choices actually pays off! Imagine that.

James Sargent, a professor of pediatrics at DMS, also principal investigator in the study contends, “The research to date suggests that keeping kids from R-rated movies can help keep them from drinking, smoking, and doing a lot of other things that parents don’t want them to do.”

That pretty well sums it up.

The researchers talk specifically about the affect of adult content, noting that “PG-13 movies as well as many TV shows frequently portray drinking and other adult situations.” The study is fascinating. I encourage you to take a peek.

The question is: will parents listen to this warning?

In my article titled, “Dad, can I download this song?” I introduced two extremes in parenting styles: Sally SoWhat, who doesn’t monitor what her kids watch or listen to at all, and Shirley Shoebox who locks her kids in a dungeon without any exposure to the real world, releasing them at age 18. Neither are healthy.

Many people don’t want to be Shirley Shoebox, so much so, that they retreat to the polar opposite end of the spectrum, becoming very much like Sally SoWhat, a very “hands-off” parenting style. The sad fact is, most of these parents are in the dark as to what media messages are actually bombarding their kids daily; furthermore, they don’t realize the negative impact these messages can have.

In this new study, DMS partnered with the University of Oregon and the University of Michigan and studied 4,655 fifth through eighth graders, talking with 2,406 of the group. The researchers found a link between exposure to R-rated movies and the likelihood of drinking alcohol, as well as becoming more prone to ‘sensation seeking’ and risk taking.

Add to that the fact that this R-rated content is only a click away. Bottom line: Parents need to involved in their kids lives, having conversations about media, and monitoring what they watch. That’s what the experts are saying. The DMS study concluded by actually quoting the October 2009 American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) study, recommending that children watch no more than one to two hours of “quality” media each day.

If you missed that AAP music and lyrics report, I strongly encourage you to take a peek at that as well– I summarized some of those findings in our Youth Culture Window article the week the study was released. That report confirmed that lyrics have become more explicit in references to sex, drugs, alcohol, tobacco, and violence. Furthermore, the authors gave numerous examples of the correlation between media exposure and negative behaviors. The report gave particular attention to the effect of music videos. Frequent watching of music videos has been related to:

  • an increased risk of developing beliefs in false stereotypes and an increased perceived importance of appearance and weight in adolescent girls
  • an increased probability that they would engage in violence, a greater acceptance of the use of violence, and a greater acceptance of the use of violence against women
  • an increased acceptance of date rape
  • permissive sexual behaviors
  • more accepting of premarital sex (specifically with those watching MTV)
  • increased risky behaviors
  • alcohol use

Parents… are you listening?

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over twenty books including the brand new If I Had a Parenting Do Over, 52 Ways to Connect with Your Smartphone Obsessed Kid; Sex Matters; The Amazon Best Seller - The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket; and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers; Connect; and the 10-Minute Talks series. He has over 20 years youth ministry experience and speaks to parents and leaders worldwide, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan, his wife Lori, and their three kids live in California.
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One Response to Parental Guidance on Movies Makes a Difference

  1. Jiminy Cricket says:

    This is the most retarded article I’ve ever read in my life.. and you call yourself a psychologist…… HA HA!!!!!!!!!!