Parents prefer to take charge of children’s TV use


Freedom of speech is one of the prime hallmarks of what it means to be an American – and by large margins, parents want to control what their children watch on television. Censors and content nannies need not apply.

TV Watch is reminding parents that kids will be home for summer vacation and one of the events in store is a heavy workout for the family television sets.

Its “Spring into Action” campaign is designed to remind parents about the meaning of television content ratings and to familiarize them with content controls which are at their disposal.

“Parents have the responsibility of deciding what is most appropriate for their children based on their tastes, values and culture unique to their family.  Fortunately, parents have a great deal of information and numerous tools to help them with their decisions,” said TV Watch Executive Director Jim Dyke.  “Recent studies have shown parents utilize the content ratings and tools like the V-Chip and that they are overwhelmingly satisfied with their effectiveness.”

TV Watch noted the results of polling showing parental support for leaving content control in their own capable hands.

* 72 percent of parents report having rules about TV use;
* 68 percent of parents say they use the TV ratings system;
* 88 percent of parents are aware that the TV ratings system provides guidance based on the age of the child;
* 36 percent of parents use either a V-Chip or cable/satellite-provided parental controls;
* 95 percent of parents who use the ratings most often find them helpful.

RBR-TVBR observation: May we say something about TV the way it was when we were kids? Besides showing us impossible role models – we grew up in a six kid family, and were therefore acutely aware that six-kid family depicted on The Brady Bunch might just as easily been from Tralfamadore as from somewhere on this planet – we also were aware in a dim kid way that TV could be unbelievably and casually violent.

Awhile back during a casual channel-surfing expedition, we happened upon a few moments of an old Bonanza episode. Little Joe is sitting at a table in a saloon of some sort, and some guy walks in and accidently nudges his elbow.

The next thing you know, the two are engaged in a knock-down, drag-out brawl.

Really? Is that how it was? And is that the way we’re all supposed to behave?

Here’s another one – it’s not TV, exactly, but near the end of venerated movie “It’s a Wonderful Life,” Jimmy Stewart has an awkward moment with the spinster-librarian he believes to be his wife (and who was his wife in the parallel universe set up in that movie). A policeman responds, Stewart flees, and what does the policeman do? He starts unloading his revolver, shooting down a street filled to capacity with innocent pedestrians.

Really? That’s how it used to go down in America? Is this a lesson for our children? Can you imagine the media circus if a cop did this in real life?

The truth is, you can criticize content now, you could do it back then and you’ll be able to do it tomorrow.

The Founding Fathers were wise enough to realize this and make freedom of speech a founding principle. We’re glad that the content nannies did not get to write the Bill of Rights.