Last weekend I sat with a young couple who were trying to decide whether the box office smash Hunger Games, now on blu-ray and DVD, is appropriate for their middle school daughter.
The wife concluded, “The two of us are going to watch it first, then we’ll determine if it’s appropriate for her.”
I applaud their methodology. If you think that a movie is questionable, then screen it first. ask yourself the four questions I asked in my post, After Seeing Hunger Games:
- Is this story glorifying violence or inappropriate sexual situations?
- Is this story making “bad” look “good” or enticing?
- Does this story irresponsibly display imitatable attitudes and behaviors that our kids will absorb and eventually emulate?
- Does this story needlessly sell out to showing “eye candy” like nudity or gratuitous violence?
You can see what I discovered from the film detailed in that blog post.
But here’s where it gets tricky. If the film is inappropriate, misleading, imitatable, or included gratuitous elements… should it be an automatic, “No! You can’t watch it!” ???
Not so fast.
My thoughts on this have changed a little over the years, especially now that my own kids are now going on 15, 17 and 19, and now that I’m seeing more and more parents with kids in college looking back and wondering why their kids are ill equipped to make good media decisions. I used to think that if a film was questionable… it’s a “No!” Now, I’m beginning to think that parents need to spend more time “co-viewing” media with their kids and discussing these elements as they see them.
I’m not saying take your kids to see Magic Mike and talk about stripping. Some films will be a pretty straight forward, “Sorry, we’re not going to see that one.” And frankly, if your kids are 11 and 13, I’d be a lot more stringent. But if you have a 17-year-old daughter that wants to see Hunger Games, Footloose… or a film that might be even more irresponsible in some aspects… why not watch it with her and talk about it? Your daughter will be 18 in less than a year and she can watch whatever she wants then. Is she ready for that moment?
We need to teach our kids to think for themselves so when they’re on their own they know how to make good media decisions.
What about you?
How are you helping your kids make good media decisions?
How are parents too strict or too lenient at times?