Controlling Children’s Media Access: Challenging What We Think We Know
by Teresa Brett
Like so many parents who have made the choice to not send children to school, I spent a lot of time researching alternatives to institutionalized schools. By making the choice to go with an alternative education, I felt I needed to make all the right decisions about what my boys Martel, and then Greyson, would be exposed to in their lives as children. I decided early on to restrict Martel’s access to television.
We routinely only allowed him to watch PBS shows. We slowly branched out to some movies and shows that we thought were enriching and educational. When I allowed myself to truly examine why I restricted Martel’s media consumption, I had to admit I was fearful of all the harmful effects of indiscriminate media exposure. Deep down, I was fearful of many things as a parent. I was afraid of the harmful impact of certain foods. I was afraid of the harmful impact of television and movies. I was afraid of the harmful effects of certain kinds of toys that are routinely marketed to children. I couched all of this fear in the cloak of being a “responsible parent.” As a responsible parent in our culture, I needed to protect the children in my life from those things that could harm their emotional, intellectual, and physical development. As a result of these fears, I controlled many aspects of Martel’s life. I never questioned my right to control his life for his own good. And, I never questioned whether the kind of control I wielded over his life was harmful in any way.