One of the only prime-time shows we allow our children to watch is American Idol. They love it, and it has become family TV night for us. While some of you might consider this show offensive in general, it is not offensive in the usual sense. No bad language, no sexual situations, no violence, no drug or alcohol use. 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 TV set 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 help from the industry and even the government in order to control what their children see and hear.
In the Parents’ Hopes & Concerns About the Impact of Media on their Children study, 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. Of special concern are media portrayals of illegal drug use and alcohol abuse, which currently are not considered by many ratings and parental control systems," a release from the USCCB said.
And despite the dangers associated with video games, cell phones and music, parents are more concerned about what's on TV and the Internet, especially those pesky commercials. In the survey, 61 percent of respondents said they are concerned about ads with inappropriate content and three-fourths said they would use parental controls more if they could block commercial content.
On a positive note, more than 90 percent of parents said that their families have rules about TV and other media, while more than half said they already use parental controls for media. But parental controls aren't always easy to figure out, and parents expressed frustration and asked for help.
From the USCCB release:
"Two-thirds say there are three factors that would increase their use of parental controls: better understanding of parental controls; ability to block television ads they think contain inappropriate content; and greater availability of media products with parental controls already set.A little outside help would certainly be welcome. First, however, the media has to acknowledge that there is a problem. Then maybe we can make some progress. For now, at our house, we'll have to rely on a couple of old-fashioned remedies: hands over ears and eyes, and, when all else fails, the off button.
"Three-fourths of respondents say makers of media products should do more to help protect children from inappropriate media content, while 58 percent say government should also do more."
Read the full results of the study HERE.