RULE OF PARENTING #12: Popping the Culture: 4 Tips on Dealing with the Influence of Pop Culture on Your Child

Influence of Pop Culture on Kids

Rules Of Parenting - # - Two Kids On ComputerThe influence of pop culture seems inevitable. From movies, TV ads and programs, magazines, the Internet and social media, children and adults are encumbered in many ways by media. While parents cannot singlehandedly keep their children from consuming media content, they can help them deal with the influence that pop culture can have.

Here are four essential tips for getting started:

1. Be Candid about Success, Materialism and Fame

The news and images of rich celebrities who do anything to attain material success and fame can give children and teens the impression that having more stuff, excessive consumerism, cheating your way out and being insensitive to other people’s needs is the only path to being happy and successful. A study done by the National Kid’s Day showed that celebrity, fame and success are the most important things for the 1500 children who were surveyed.

As a loving parent, it is best to be a good role model when it comes to materialism — do you buy needless stuff just because you saw it on TV? Do you pressure your children to succeed and be famous against all odds? Re-evaluate your approach and teach your child (by way of example) that success does not necessary mean materialism and excessive consumerism.

Teach them the values of honesty, hard work and gratitude for what they already have.

2. Demystify Body Image Issues

Tweens (aged 9 -11) and teenagers are often under intense pressure to look a certain way. Both girls and boys face so much dissatisfaction with their bodies when they cannot get the idealized look propagated on the media. According to studies published in the American Communication Journal 2012, women who view and internalize ‘thin-ideal’ images can easily have a distorted body image, eating disorders, low self-esteem, depression and suicidal tendencies.

Parents need to come in strongly on this and show their child how to appreciate their body just as it is. It is also important for parents to encourage healthy eating and regular exercises in the family.

To propagate a positive body image to your child, you should also take care of yourself and avoid self-injurious practices that show you do not respect your body. It is also a good idea to avoid comparing your child to people in the media or criticizing his looks.

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3. Put a Limit on TV Viewership

According to the American Academy of Paediatrics, as many as 74% of children below 3 years watch TV for a couple of hours every day.

The Association however discourages parents from exposing young children to TV because these toddlers require direct interaction with real people for their social, emotional and cognitive development. Exposure to TV for these young children only hinders their development. Introduce your child to age appropriate developmental toys, outdoor activities and books. For the rest of the children (teenagers included) it is important for parents to set a limit on the types of programs they can watch and the duration of time they can dedicate to watching TV.

Family practices such as watching programs together and turning off background TV can instil positive values around TV. This way, parents can easily regulate what the children watch and the children will know their limits when it comes to consuming TV content.

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4. Regulate Social Media Use

Social networks are the new fonts of internet-based media. While most networks place a restriction on the minimum age of users, they do not have any way to enforce these age limits. The responsibility lies on parents to regulate how their children use social media.

For starters, set house rules against underage use of social media. You might have to look at your child’s computer to determine his online activities. Installing filters and adjusting privacy settings may also be necessary to monitor and regulate your child’s online activities.

For the older children, talk to them about the pros and cons of social media and the steps they can take to protect themselves. Agreeing on a contract containing rules about social media and internet use will also be a positive step to protect your child.

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