Television and parental control

One of the only prime-time television shows we allow our children to watch is “American Idol.” They love it, and it has become family TV night for us. While some might consider this show offensive, it is not offensive in the usual sense. Every once in a while you might get a slightly suggestive comment or guest performer, but overall we have found it to be fairly wholesome.  

I wish I could say the same of the commercials that run every few minutes. Our older children, who are ages 13 and 9, are trained to avert their eyes and cover their ears during almost every commercial break, when ads for series and products that have no business in prime time make their way onto the screen. When even covered eyes and ears won’t do, we try switching channels. But to what? It seems every station is rife with half-naked, gun-toting, foul-mouthed, Viagra-popping people. On a regular basis, I threaten to give the television the old heave-ho.  

It turns out our concerns are similar to what most other parents are feeling. In a national survey commissioned by the USCCB regarding the impact of the media on children, parents expressed “deep concern” over “inappropriate content” and said they want more help from the industry and even the government in order to control what their children see and hear.  

In “Parents’ Hopes & Concerns About the Impact of Media on their Children,” more than 80 percent of parents said they want to be able to “control access to media content that depicts violence, sex, illegal drug use, alcohol abuse and profane language.”  

A little outside help would be welcome. First, the media has to acknowledge that there is a problem. For now, we’ll have to rely on old-fashioned remedies: hands over ears and eyes, and, when all else fails, the off button. 

Mary DeTurris Poust