Being a parent is tough. Between the two extremes in the art of parenting today, Helicopter parents seem to have declared a moral victory over the Free-Range parents (or as they called it in the old days – just parents). There seems to be ample justification to endlessly hover around your child endlessly worrying about school, hobbies, classes and such. I mean, how can it not be in the best interest of the child? And how can it not be a critical advantage in this world of spelling bees, Olympiads, 10K runs and Sainas.
Inspite of this, the Parent Police let a few things slip and one of these is the quality of media that our kids consume. It doesn’t matter if you are a working mom or a work-from-home dad. The days feel like an endless long commute and the nights are filled with conference codes and press *6 to Mute.
So the entire family really looks forward to the quick getaway to the movie hall and the discreetly snatched minutes of me-time with your favourite gadget. And its just impossible to keep track of every app, Youtube video and website. ‘Parental Controls’ settings are the band-aid for the harried parents’ soul to help us feel like we atleast tried.
Here are two resources I came across and hope you find useful in your parenting journey in the age of media with unsafe content flying in all directions!
The first resource is BollySitter. BollySitter aims to help parents make an informed decision about allowing their child to watch a particular film, mainly Bollywood. The review gives an indicator for the relevance and age-appropriateness of a film without giving away the plot and spoiling it for the parent. Key factors determining this are the extent of violence, sexuality and the quality of the language.
Additionally the review also has a “Family GO Factor”. That is to say that while a movie may be suitable for your pre-schooler, is it really relevant and worthwhile. This makes sense. As a parent you want those 2-3 hours to be wholesome entertainment and leave a positive message. The site has influenced my choices over the past few months and I do hope they are quick to review new movies too!
The other resource is CommonSenseMedia.Org
This is a San Francisco based organisation that aims to rate and educate across technology and media options that kids today have. This is a treasure-trove of reviews, ratings and parenting resources across the spectrum of options available to our kids. They cover mobile apps, books, games, TV shows, movies, music and websites. Pretty much everything that worries you and everything that can go just so wrong! While they are US based and focussed, almost everything that an American child consumes is instantly available in India. The parent finds out much much later that such content even exists!
Content that is not appropriate at a particular stage of development can be extremely harmful and very difficult to undo or unlearn. Am sure there is sufficient research to nod to that! What I liked about both these resources – one a small time local blog and the other a huge repository of parenting gold – is that they focus on keeping it positive for the child.
“Kids who learn to use digital media wisely can accomplish amazing things — learn new skills, explore new worlds, build new ideas, and change the world.”