Lately, I have been reading a lot of blogs about controlling children’s access to explicit media. While I agreed with most of the blogs I’ve been reading, something about them doesn’t sit quite right with me.
The idea of censoring material is always difficult to swallow, even if it is to protect our children. Freedom of speech is our first amendment right, so that no authority has the power to limit our search for knowledge. Nonetheless, I am aware that many song lyrics, many shows and movies and many websites contain ideas, words and images we don’t not want children exposed to. Given these conflicting desires, on one hand the desire to protect our freedom and on the other hand our responsibility to protect and teach our children, what should we do?
The overwhelming answer from the blogs I’ve seen is to censor children’s media access. While I generally agree, I also encourage parents and educators to be thoughtful about why they are censor material, what they are censoring and how they go about it.
For the most part children are interested in these “bad” ideas, words and images out of curiosity, not some desire to be bad. Curiosity is an innate human characteristic. Our curiosity fuels learning, so we ought to encourage our children’s curiosity. Simply censoring explicit content if children are interested in it is not the best response and may discourage their curiosity and desire to learn.
Talk to your children! Try to understand why they want to listen to that music, watch that show or movie and go to that website. Then explain why you’re concerned about them seeing or hearing those ideas, images or words. You might explain that some things are scary, others things dangerous. Explain that words and images can be hurtful.
Talking with your children will force you to reflect on what you’re comfortable with, and why you have concerns in the first place. Is it okay for your children to be scared? Is it okay for them to see bad behavior? Furthermore, talking with your children will open lines of communication with your children, which you will be grateful for as more sensitive issues arise. Finally, open communication will inspire their curiosity, not stifle it.