The End Of The Innocence
Times are changing, and children may be the ones who suffer the most
When it comes to screen time, there are definitely things we are careful about … no nighttime shows on channels outside of Sprout, Disney Jr., PBS, Discovery Kids and ESPN. We don’t allow our children to watch violent cartoons or shows that tolerate disrespectful behavior.
Sports are about all we really turn on in the evening, with an occasional episode of “Winter Wipeout.” It should be a no-brainer to let my sons watch a basketball game. What could go wrong with a bunch of giants running back and forth with an orange ball and a couple of netted hoops, right?
WRONG. Welcome to the 2011 NBA All-Star Game Half-Time Show.
If I thought LeBron James and Kobe Bryant were exciting enough to bring wide eyes and a smile to my son’s sweet face, you can imagine what Rihanna’s booty-shaking, leg-spreading, air-humping dance routine might have done to him.
I don’t care if it was her birthday … there is a child present for goodness sake! I’m only glad I wasn’t there with him in person. Fortunately, I had sense enough to get him in bed just in the nick of time. But what if I hadn’t?
My sweet, innocent little 8-year-old boy almost lost a piece of himself to her semi-pornographic choreography. And that was at 9:30 p.m. on TNT. Has the station changed its mission? Is this the new Cinemax? If movies are rated, why on earth wasn’t this game’s half-time show?
As my kids grow older, the realization creeps upon me that they will indeed lose more and more of their innocence with each episode such as this. No matter how hard I try to keep them safe, pure, and protected, this worldly influence slips in between the cracks.
When my son was the tender age of 5, he witnessed a documentary on the collapse of the World Trade Center. It was the five-year anniversary. He was putting a puzzle together on the floor. Little did I realize he was paying attention to what was being said on the TV.
“Mom?” he asked as he glanced up toward me. “Why would someone fly planes into a building on purpose?” Wow … how do you explain the act of terrorism to such an innocent little thing? That was one of the first times I realized he couldn’t forever be protected by me. The world is a big, scary place. And he was more observant than I ever suspected he could be at such a young age.
Sex and violence are not the only things that have seemingly plagued our media. Expletive words that used to be censored such as ‘damn’, ‘hell’, ‘ass’, and ‘bitch’ are popping up all over TV on a regular basis … and I mean basic channels like ABC, CBS, NBC and of course the best of them, FOX. When did that change? It sure wasn’t that way when I was 8. Gunshots and mine explosions on episodes of Little House on the Prairie were about as bad as it got.
It blows my mind to be watching a ‘kid’ show and hear someone say, “What the hell, Jimmy! It was my turn to bat!”
Maybe I was raised in an ultra-conservative home and continue to carry those morals and values, but outside of that I feel this sort of language is unnecessary and unmannerly. As a parent, I want my children to have the education and intelligence to find more creative adjectives to express their thoughts and feelings. How can I effectively do my job as a parent and have my boys respect me when they’re hearing things like this all over TV?
My husband wants to rid our home of the television. I always chuckle and give him a loving punch to the shoulder saying, “Don’t take my one guilty pleasure away from me!” But now I’m beginning to wonder.
Are we able to prevent our kids from exposure to things like this? Is it inevitable that they will lose their innocence at such a tender age? Will they be left behind if we prevent them from growing into this media-run world in which we live? Is it too much to hope that they will never know a curse-word in their life? I suppose. I guess I can only hope they’ll choose not to use them.
If we can’t be confident in letting our kids watch a basketball game on TV, what hope do we have in retaining their innocence?