Children used to acquire knowledge of the world in a gradual, controlled way. They learned how to behave by watching adults and modeling their actions.
The slowly developing reading skills of young people restricted them mostly to stories and facts that were deemed suitable for their age level.
But times have changed. Today children are flung quickly into the realm of adult knowledge.
Certainly the mass media bombard children with messages at every turn. Rock and rap song lyrics, DVDs, and advertising all play their parts. Television, the Internet, and computer games are also major players.
Messages in ads, TV programs and games — in print, online, and even some content on the nightly news — would have been shocking to see just one short generation ago.
Young viewers can’t always distinguish between the drama and trauma of reality shows and adventure shows, and the day-to-day routine that most adults live.
Without proper guidance, children can grow up dissatisfied with lives less exciting and glamorous than the TV heroes they admire or those on their computer screens. Those figures can avoid handling conflicts that can’t be solved in 22 minutes — or worse, in 22 seconds.
Creating a family of media critics is one answer to this challenge. “Talking back” to the TV or computer screen is a good first step. And remember to be aware of media content, and use good judgment in your selections.
These steps are a key to raising healthy, well-adjusted children.