How to Protect Your Children from Sex in the Media
6 of 10 in Series: The Essentials of Talking to Children about Sex
Counselors and teachers find that children demonstrate sexual behavior much more frequently now than they ever did before. The reason for this is simple: Children today see so much more sex in the media. What is the danger of so much sex on TV and even in the ads on the subway? And what can a parent do to protect a child from the hypersexual media?
Although, as an adult, you may welcome the fact that television has become more open about sexual matters, seeing this type of material will overstimulate your child. Just watching the soap operas with your kids is enough to make them lose the innocence that they deserve. Children imitate adults’ behavior, and if they see sexual situations, they’ll try to copy them. Because children have sexual feelings, some of these behaviors can have direct consequences, so that a child may start to play with his or her genitals on a regular basis because that child has been overstimulated.
By letting children see sexual material regularly, you also put them at risk if they come in contact with someone who wants to take advantage of them. If a child sees people on TV having sex — and I don’t mean anything more than the type of scenes soaps show all the time — then, if some adult proposes that the child do something similar, he or she won’t be frightened but may accept this behavior as normal.
You can do several things to protect your child, although the most important is to keep a careful eye over what your child watches.
Keep any movies that may be inappropriate for children out of their reach. Don’t leave these DVDs out with the ones your children browse through. Do the same with other erotic material, including magazines and books.
When renting movies, be strict about the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) ratings. Kids may plead with you, but show them the rating on the box and don’t give in.
Most cable companies offer ways that you can lock out certain channels that carry material not suited to children. Call your cable company and find out what you can do.
All television sets made after 1999 have what is called the V-chip, which allows you to block programming at certain levels, depending on the child’s age. Make sure that you read the TV’s instruction manual so you can employ this handy device.
Children shouldn’t watch too much television in the first place, but certainly not late at night when adult programming is on.
Try not to let your children watch the news. Oftentimes the news carries stories inappropriate for children. Because the topics switch rapidly, inappropriate stories may come on before you realize it.
If you use baby sitters, give them specific instructions concerning what shows your child can and can’t watch. Tell your child these rules, and afterward, ask your child whether he or she watched any forbidden shows. Little children aren’t likely to lie about such things.
If you have children of a broad age range, make sure that the older children don’t watch inappropriate shows around their younger siblings.