Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Action (ii)

Last week I hosted a screening of Consuming Kids in my living room.
Consuming Kids

Last month, I emailed my neighborhood listserv to garner interest.
Of the several hundred people this listserv reaches, exactly two replied, "Yes."
A parent's yes, that is, which sounds like, "Josh has soccer and Alicia has piano and I work until 7 but I'll try to be there!"

I ended up with 5 great people sitting on my couch, which may not sound like a lot, but between these 5 great people they had 210 children.
Okay, not 210,but each of them had a small litter at home, which counts statistically for numbers in attendance.
It was all women, and although one father had wanted to attend, he and his wife played Rock Paper Scissors to see who would stay home with the brood.
Paper covers rock, she won.

So, in 6 degrees of separation, there were 210 people in my living room, represented by their mothers, who are out attending these things in the world while the young brush their teeth and get on feetsie pajamas and generally have no idea how much their parents are worrying for them.  (Call your mother.)

After the film, one neighbor mentioned that her kids get one hour of screen time daily, and that they determine the device (computer/TV/video games).   Also, since she has 4 kids, each of whom has requests about movies and shows they want to watch with their friends, she uses the website to determine what is appropriate viewing.  Rather, they use this website, the kids, and based on the family consensus, determine if it's something that falls within or outside the boundaries they've determined together.
(Side question: if you watched TV growing up, were there rules around it?  Did you watch programs with your family, was it laissez-faire, or violence but no sex, or sex but no violence, or bring it on, all things go?)

One neighbor, an artist, asked honestly, "Okay, I see that there's a lot of this stuff that's marketed to kids.  But, why should I be upset about it?  What is the problem exactly?"
The cognitive behariorist in me immediately thought, "Don't Should on yourself today!"

Her question led to more discussion,  and some sharing of what people were noticing with their own kids, their responses to the world around them, to media, and how they were processing it.  It was apparent: no two kids are the same, and each family had different things that top their List of Concerns. 

At 11:00 as the group made their way out the front door, I thought to myself, "Well, that was delightful.  Maybe next week I'll hold a screening of Halloween 5."  And then I checked the website, and there is no way on earth the kids would let their moms watch that.


  1. i would like to watch this. can u lend it to me?

  2. It was close to anything goes when I was little as far as TV went. As far as movies went, I could watch Return to Oz, Blazing Saddles, Howard The Duck, Paint Your Wagon, and things along that line when I was small. Dad would also put in a Terminator or Rambo type movie once in a while. I would go into the other room on my own since I was completely uninterested. Once I reached about 13 I was allowed to watch a lot more. Like RHPS more XD. Mom did ban me from watching A Clockwork Orange and From Dusk Til Dawn. These were movies that were being watched and she had a moment of "Hell, no!" But I also saw movies like Scream, a couple of the later Nightmare on Elm Streets, and really liked Tales from the Darkside and Tales from the Crypt too.

    I guess I was a bit of an odd child. No lasting harm. >.> Except for some bad dreams about those *#%&$^#$ Wheelers.

  3. My verification was ticaryl XD My middle name is Caryl.

  4. To answer your question, when I was growing up we had no cable TV. Somewhere in my pre-tween years, VCRs and VHS tapes became available, so we started occasionally renting (renting!) VCRs and videos, say a couple of times a month. By the time I was a teen, we owned a VCR and rented movies every weekend, but it was a full family activity, something we did together. We didn't watch a lot of scary/violent stuff, but this was mostly because it wasn't something that all of us would enjoy - my mom hates that kind of stuff. So the "rules", which were completely unspoken, were more about family consensus and enjoyment, not "protecting the innocent children". As far as I could tell, anyway.

    Throughout my teen years I railed like a crazy person about the unfairness of not having cable TV. Well, guess what - at 35 years old, and mother of 1, we now have no cable TV. Haven't had it for three years and don't miss it at all - who has the TIME for it? I am happy, though I do see the irony of it, that my daughter has the same situation I had - although, she has much easier access to videos/DVDs. I think in our house, the Internet will also be a large factor. She watches Youtube videos just about every morning with her Dad.

    I've rambled enough! I love your blog and am so grateful to read your perspective.

  5. We had pretty strict rules about TV. We were only allowed to watch ABC (that's Australian Broadcasting Corporation, it's the public, no-ads channel) unless there was something specific on which we watched with our parents. I believe there were time limits too - you can have an hour a day, or whatever.

    I'm the eldest and my sister is 7 years younger. And she LOVES tv. She watched way more than I did and by that stage she was allowed commercial stations, and more hours. I think we both had something like 2 hours of screen time, whatever screen that may be. By that stage it was harder because I was old enough to start needing to self regulate, but of course that looks unfair to a 5 year old.

    I don't know how much this affected us in later life. I know my sister is still crazy about tv and wastes hours on it, while I can take it or leave it. mostly I leave it - I don't even know if my tv in this house recieves anything since i only ever use it for dvds, and that rarely. However, I do have issues self regulating computer time which I put down partially to my semi-compulsive personaily and partially to my mothers control issues and arbitrary rules which changed on her whim, which turned it into a forbidden thing to be done whenever you can and not get caught.

  6. I'm in the UK, and when I was young (in the '80s) we had only the basic 4 (later 5) channels to watch (no cable or satellite TV in our house). My Mum had fairly strong views about what kinds a "children's TV" were OK for us to watch, and also had what I thought of (and still think of) as an irrational prejudice against wanting to watch every episode of something (we weren't allowed to set the tape, or hurry home for something), this made a lot of shows basically unwatchable.

    Hence we didn't watch much TV, although we did eat in front of the TV nearly every evening (because the tables tended to accumulate Stuff(tm) to the point where they couldn't be eaten off).

    We mostly watched things that were shown on the BBC, which meant *no* advertising :-) I grew up with a lot of Blue Peter, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet, Man from UNCLE, Star Trek, and adaptations of Agatha Christie novels (Mum's favourite).

    My parents didn't seem overly much concerned with us seeing fictional sex and violence although they didn't *like* many action or horror films so we didn't see many of them; but they were very anti soap-operas, apparently being interested in the lives or "normal" people is bad or something? or perhaps is just the daily "must watch Eastenders" habit that they didn't want us to pick up.

  7. luc--of course!

    Mila--RHPS is one of those cult classics I can't believe I have not yet seen...wonderfully weird.

    adequatemom--if karma has it right, your daughter will soon enough rally "about the unfairness of not having cable tv!" or maybe cable will be obsolete by that time ;)

    craftastrophies--it's funny to see the differences between siblings raised in the same or shifted environment. My sibs and I sometimes joke that each of us was raised by different parents, from oldest to youngest, I think they just got t--i--r--e--d!

    naath--setting the tape to pre-record...oh the days!

  8. I wasn't allowed to watch Full House or other shows that might "set unrealistic expectations" for me later in life. Funny though, I *was* allowed to watch several of the Halloween movies BY MYSELF. I was so terrified! My mom just didn't want me to grow up thinking I was going to grow up to be a size 6 housewife living in suburbia. She didn't mind if I liked watching gory things: )

    More to the point, I think my mom just didn't find most of the "normal" sitcoms to be valuable or funny and she didn't want to sit through them.

  9. It was a great night, and I felt privileged to be among such smart, and socially aware women.

    To answer your question, I was allowed to watch PBS all day long, apparently, and "I turned out just fine." This is told to me quite often by my family members, as a response to my asking them to please not plant my children in front of the tv while I run errands or get my hair cut.