TV and Movies

From my 2009 Journal

I was reared in a small African village without the basics of running water, electricity, or flush toilets and, thus, no TV or movies. I remember as a first grader on furlough being mesmerized by black-and-white cartoons flashing across the screen of my Grandpa Peterson’s small TV set, and then again four years later, on our next furlough, unable to unglue my eyes from this novelty.

I struggle to navigate parenthood without experiential knowledge in monitoring entertainment. What makes a good story great? What details make it acceptable? What scenes are suitable for my children to watch? What images will leave them with nightmares and fears? At what age do I allow exposure to realistic scenes? When is violence and sexual content and adult language appropriate and for what audience? I don’t think I can predict what that limit is . . . until it’s too late. These decisions for my children are messy ones for each stage of their growth. How can I be wise, balanced, and sensitive to their needs? How can I push back against the culture?

Unfortunately, some children experience far too much reality for their age; others are exposed to it by their peers. How long can I or should I shelter their innocence? Information, should they desire to gain access, is readily available but, as a parent, I have a responsibility to guide them.