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+---Topic: PARENTING: Gatekeeping Mass Media for Children started by CarolKoster


Posted by: CarolKoster on Nov. 22, 2003 7:57 am/pm

It used to be straight forward:  IF a movie, or TV show or home video, is rated "G", THEN it's "safe" for young children and entire families to view it.  No one would blush.  No one would have to be concerned that anyone in the family would cower or be frightened.  And the stories and characters weren't necessarily sugary or one dimensional.  You could bring a family or young children to a movie theatre and sit and watch coming attractions or the movie itself and not feel an ounce of regret or concern that material presented would be unsuitable.  

It used to be that way.  Somewhere along the line G movies became mostly PG movies.  G movies became edgier.  Advertising became more suggestive and aggressive.  You can sit in a theatre waiting for a show with young children sitting next to you and the local ads before the movie or even the coming attractions can make one think twice about staying for the duration 'til the show starts.  PG movies are promoted to audiences waiting for a G movie to start, with children watching.  Sporting events seem OK for awhile, 'til the product placement of a sign or ad for Viagra or a promo for a violent prime time TV show comes on in the commercial breaks so quickly you can't turn the remote control channel changer fast enough.  Disney used to be a trusted name for family movies, now they're mostly making PG and PG-13 "family" movies and relegating G to variations on a theme of Pooh and direct-to-video sequel product of past movie hits. Even such traditional children's literature gone to film as "Cat in the Hat" has to be heavily scrutinized for content (movie said to be very crude) before individuals in a family decide whether or not it's suitable for them.  

So the discussion questions are:  Have you noticed this trend?  Does the trend bother you?  Does a G rating nowadays automatically and necessarily mean young young children should see it, or that it's suitable for all family members?  Do you "gatekeep" or screen what you and your family watch on TV, satellite, cable TV, music, movies, home videos, games, books and magazines, etc.?  How much screening is too much, how much is too little or "just right"?  What values are being served or underserved or even disregarded by media entertainment companies today?  What do you advise other parents about taking young children to G or PG movies or seeing/hearing/reading some pop cultural entertainments?  Does the G-PG-PG 13-R movie ratings or the TV G-Y-Y 7-PG etc. TV ratings or the ratings on electronic games or on CDs help you as a parent much, or are these ratings too vague or too strict or too confusing, or do you ignore them and just go by your gut instincts?  Do movie reviews help you make informed decisions about what your family should see at the movies or rent from the video store?  What do you think?

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