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I have a nine year-old. One of my children’s classmates dressed as Katniss Everdeen from the Hunger Games. At a party that weekend, this little girl had a crowd around her, asking, “Did you read the book? Did you see the movie?” She answered yes to both.
Let me state for the record that this child’s mom is a friend of mine. She’s a very loving parent. I’m not judging because she makes thoughtful decisions for her children. I did, however, stand with my mouth agape. It wasn't about the fact that my daughter’s friend had seen the movie. The reaction was more based on the knowledge that MY daughter couldn't handle it.
While I read the entire Hunger Games trilogy and thoroughly enjoyed it, it’s a disturbing story that would give my children nightmares. A government that’s so jaded it reminds its citizens of its control with a yearly game of killing children for sport. It was hard to wrap my head around, no less my little one's.
Two nights after the party, I got the first request. “Can we watch the Hunger Games together?” Absolutely not. It’s rated PG-13 and you’re years away. Plus, PG-13 isn't what it used to be when I was a kid.
According to this piece from TODAY Moms, a rating of PG-13 today is similar to an R rating in the 80’s. Could that be due to the movie industry’s desire to entice a larger audience? Or is it a general desensitization to violence? I’m not sure if either is the real answer, but the end result is the same. Kids are being exposed to graphic images more than you may realize. Heck, yesterday I was flipping through a photo gallery from Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines and found myself literally looking at a mother mourning over the dead body of her son. Since when is a photo like that commonplace? Worse, the next slide had a cautionary note that it contained a graphic image and required a second click to be seen. If the first didn't necessitate some kind of warning, I sure didn't want to see one that did.
I realize that was a little tangent, but there's a good take-away point here. No matter what kind of media your child is consuming, be in charge of it. If it's a movie, either see it first or check it out on sites that address its appropriateness for children. Kids-In-Mind.com is a site I use often. If your child is watching television, watch together. If your little one is using the internet, restrict the sites they can access. Violence and graphic images are lurking in places you may think are safe.
Photo credit: Flickr
Opinions expressed by parent contributors are their own.