Monday, March 27, 2006

Mom is also a movie critic

Among the many many many many MANY jobs that a mother has, being a movie critic is one of them. The images that flash across our TV screen are now carefully scrutinized by my mind at split second speed. While enjoying the show, I have to be careful of the language content, sound effects and images that are on display in our house.

Toddlers have very sharp memories, and they can usually pick up new information by only being introduced to it once. So we have to be on guard to make sure that Iman doesn’t come across something we don’t want her to.

For example, a few days ago Iman was busy playing with her toys while we were watching one of our TV shows and she overheard someone say “damn it”, and she decided that it would be her new pet phrase. We heard her say “damn it” ALL the time. Normally we don’t react to such things, because our reaction causes her to repeat things, but this was just too much! Previously if she dropped something, Iman would say “oopsie”, now she replaced it with “damn it”. If she got angry… “damn it”. If she was finished with her juice… “damn it”. If she was struggling with a new toy… “damn it”. So yes, you must always “listen” carefully to what your child can hear.

Sound effects and images are a whole other problem on their own. Most of the time kids retain a scary image along with its background score and then they are reminded of it in the middle of the night. When Omair and I were watching King Kong, my innocent husband suggests that we can watch this movie with Iman, because it’s “about a giant monkey”. Well… if you’ve seen King Kong, you know that the monkey isn’t the cute and cuddly kind that Iman is familiar with!

Moms are naturally inclined to do this critical analysis of TV and movies. We don’t have to learn it, I think somehow we are born with it, and when one such word or image or sound comes across our radar, the red light flashes and sirens blare in our head and we change the channel.


At 3:54 PM, Blogger DariushAlavi said...

Yes, and there's lots of recently-conducted research which shows that we're only just beginning to understand the way in which the undeveloped mind responds to the images on a TV or movie screen.

The most generally accepted belief seems to be that a young child's mind simply cannot cope with or process the 'rapid editing' techniques which are such a prominent feature of modern films and TV programmes. Even a music video which doesn't contain inappropriate language and/or scenes of a violent/sexual nature might be too much for a toddler to take, if it relies heavily on quick cuts and lots of editing.

Apparently young kids should watch only those programmes intended specifically for their age group.

But I think it's also natural that kids will pick up the odd inappropriate catchphrase and soon grow out of it. I know someone whose brother went through a very worrying phase of saying 'bugger' in much the same way that Iman says 'damn it'. Fortunately, he stopped doing it very quickly.

You are such a thoughtful and sensitive Mum!!!

At 6:14 PM, Blogger Hina said...

Thanks d, very few people compliment moms on what they do!

At 11:13 AM, Anonymous y2kmicrochick said...

hey hina .....I use the t.v. as a nanny for about 15 mins a day while naaj needs to be kept busy or ... another 15 mins while i get lunch ready .... but apparently the quick takes and superimposing editing is really bad for children aged 1-3. It impairs that part of the mind that is forming and will be used for reading and pattern recognition. I suggest just wait till she sleeps to watch t.v. .... coz there is a lot more than just bad language on t.v. ...although dubai is still wayyyyyyy better than t.v. in other places coz they monitor it a lot there. Cartoons like Tom and Jerry are actually worse than war movies ... because children relate to them and copy them ... but the new kids programmes like Hi-5, seseme street and Balamory are supposed to be very good for them. All said and done I wonder how much we can protect our kids from images we don't want them to see.

At 7:16 PM, Blogger Lorraine said...

So true. When The Child was a year old we lived in a one bedroom flat. Her "room" was a nook in the living room. This was back when "X Files" was on the air. Of a Friday night we'd settle down to watch. The baby was sound asleep, the volume was down, she couldn't have seen the screen from where she was even if she was awake but when that show was on she would be tossing and turning in her sleep the entire time. Something about that show was getting to her. We had to stop watching. And there was the time, when she was about 4. She didn't actually watch grownup TV with us but sometimes she'd wander in the room to ask for something or whatever. Anyway, one night we were watching "Friends". She came in for something and was standing there a few minutes. Then she sweetly announced, "I want to have sex". Big lesson to us that even the most seemingly innocuous of adult fare is not for children! (Now she's 12 and I still won't let her see a "Friends" rerun!)


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