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Are Parents Getting Too Used to Sex and Violence in the Media?

Screen Shot 2014-10-22 at 9.40.02 AM.pngWhen we talk about media violence and sex, we talk a lot about how there's so much of it that kids are getting desensitized to it--and we worry about what it means to grow up being desensitized to violence and sex.

But maybe we should be just as worried about parents getting desensitized.

Now, at first glance that doesn't seem to make sense--after all, parents are grownups (mostly) and can watch what they want to watch, and theoretically their brains are formed (theoretically), and this stuff is less likely to affect them than kids.

But...parents have a lot to do with what youth watch--or at least they can be, if they choose to be. And a study published in the journal Pediatrics suggests that the more violence and sex parents watch, the more lenient they become about letting their children watch it.

In the study, researchers from the Annenberg Public Policy Center and Ohio State had parents watch clips of scenes of violent or sexual content from popular movies, and then say how old a child should be to watch the movie. And here's what is so interesting: the more they watched, the lower the ages got. Even though the clips they watched later had just as much sex and violence as the ones they watched first.

After a while, maybe folks just start getting used to sex and violence. It's understandable; sometimes there is so much ambient sex and violence that it almost seems normal, and not a big deal if kids are exposed to it.

But here's the thing: It can be a big deal. Kids who watch a lot of violence tend to be more aggressive. Kids who watch a lot of sexual content are more likely to start having sex earlier. And that's just the stuff that's been studied and written about; there are so very many implications for youth of watching thousands of murders and other acts of violence--and seeing sex and sexualized images from an early age. Every child will be affected differently, and some more than others, but everyone gets affected.

So....worth thinking about--and doing some soul-searching about. And then, talk and decide together what you are going to do. Be in charge--don't let media be in charge.

Here are a couple of great videos from Common Sense Media that have some really helpful advice and tips:


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