by Sarah Michaelis Thursday October 4, 2007

My daughter loves to watch music videos. So did I when I was her age.

Of course, when I was her age music videos consisted of Mick Jagger swaggering on stage and mugging for the camera. Today, 50 Cent talks about getting his lollipop licked while lounging in a brothel.

This is one of those parental conundrums I don’t readily have an answer to—is recoiling against the level of sex and violence in media today just a product of the generation gap or has it really gone too far this time? 

When I was a preteen, my favorite shows were Three’s Company, Laverne and Shirley, and The Love Boat. I wasn’t allowed to watch them but I would sneak them when I could. My mom said they glorified the seamy side of life. Sure the shows were full of sexual innuendo but I didn’t get all that. I just thought they were funny. It didn’t make me want to model my life after Jack and Mr. Furley.

Today, I let my daughter watch Friends even though just about every episode is about sex. I keep reminding myself about Three’s Company and bite my tongue. But where do you draw the line today when soft porn can be viewed on some channels all day and The Family Guy is considered one of the profound satirists of our time?

Violence is another story. A recent U.S. study from the journal Science concluded that the more violent television adolescents watch the more likely they will be involved in assaults and crime later on. Of course, the study has its critics who say the link between television violence and real-life violence is weak at best.

The Canadian-based Media Awareness Network says that although many, many studies have been done in the area of media violence, no real indisputable conclusion has been made. This is mainly because violence is so hard to define. What is violent to me may not be violent to you.

Many of the studies I’ve seen link the number of hours of TV watched by children to the level of violence they participate in later on. I have to agree with the critics who blame the parents on this one rather than the television. A child who is allowed to watch hours and hours of television a day is probably not getting much parental time and support. It’s no big surprise that these kids become anti-social later on.

I’d like to know what you think. Do you restrict what your child watches? Why or why not? Do you think the media has pushed the envelope too far this time or is this just another Elvis hip gyration?