I am a child of the 50’s when radio, record players and TV were the main sources of media entertainment within the home. I spent most of my day playing outside, climbing trees, riding my bike, roller skating and playing games with my friends. I would come in and sit on the floor in front of our radio and listen to kids’ programs that allowed me to create my own mental pictures created by sound effects and great storytelling. I also had a variety of long-playing records that kept me entertained for hours. We got our first TV around 1951 and I loved watching Sheriff John at lunch while eating a grilled cheese sandwich and soup; at night, my parents and I would watch variety shows like I Love Lucy, My Little Margie, and December Bride. The subject matter was pretty innocuous and much was left to the imagination. Most programming was live and simple in comparison to today’s amazing technical advances in the industry.
Now I am 63 and find myself yearning for the old days. Don’t get me wrong – I love watching HD TV, creative editing, and the ability to receive information almost instantaneously.
However, I believe the media has become a double-edged sword that has the potential for being useful, informative, and entertaining or destructive. Primetime TV is saturated with adult subject matter and the news oftentimes presents disturbing, graphic images that are hard for most mature adults to process. Our participation and monitoring of our children’s media usage is crucial. They need advocates and guidance with all the choices that are before them.
We can have quality family time while watching TV together to explain some of the seemingly unexplainable things that our children are hearing and seeing. Listening to what they are exposed to on the radio and monitoring the movies they are watching are essential. This is a great time to bond and exchange ideas and viewpoints on issues. We can also share with our kids some of the fun things we used to watch or listen to when we were kids no matter what generation. It will help them to understand us a little better and possibly help provide other healthier choices for entertainment. A fun thing to do when you have some free time is to check out Amazon.com and search for the shows that you remember best or heard your parents talking about when you were a child. If your child has access to a computer, uses a cell phone, watches TV, or listens to streaming or terrestrial radio, I encourage you to join me on my blog to consider in more depth the influence of media on our kids today. By the way, what are your kids doing right now? Stay tuned and stay informed.