In todays’ world content is king…and we mean all kinds of content! From ads, movies, web series’ and video games to videos & reels on popular platforms like Tik Tok, Instagram, WhatsApp & more – the world is big & broad and not everything is appropriate for kids. This article talks about some of the important things you as parent can do to regulate your kids’ content consumption in todays world. Read on to find out.
Let’s just admit that we are living at a great time where creativity, artistic freedom, and novelty is completely booming. Our journey from just a DD1 and DD2 in our childhood to a variety of OTT platforms, movies and so much entertainment content is something to marvel about.
Many are finding new professions, ways to make money and make an impact on the society through these platforms and it is simply great! From wondering what to do if there is a power cut to having some or the other form of entertainment on our fingertips no matter what, we have come a long way.
But the problem arises when the same entertainment is available for our children too. It was just some time ago, that I heard a 9-year-old student of mine tell me that she watched ‘Squid Game’ and that she loved it. When asked if she understood what was going on and she just said, “not everything but there was a lot of action and I liked it.” She was referring to the gruesome action sequences in the series.
While I as an adult would love to see such series with some different concepts and creative perspectives, I hardly think that it was recommended for a 9-year-old. So, I went and checked and the rating for the series was TV-MA, which means for Matured Audiences only.
This is not the only thing, let’s talk about the many video games, Tik Toks, Reels, YouTube, YouTube shorts and so many videos on WhatsApp which are easily accessible to children and are filled with violence, or graphic content or any age inappropriate information in one form or the other.
The point is if we are lucky, a child might just take what they saw in the right stride and move on, but it is statistically proven that media and games have a great impact on a child’s mind. With so much information out there how can we safeguard a child’s innocence and ensure the right information is reaching out to them. All this makes us think how much of monitoring are we really doing to what influences our child.
While we are raising our voices towards many things like how fairy tales sometimes might not portray women in the best of the light, how some ads show wrong information about sensitive issues or even how some words are attributed to a person or profession which may not be true, we have a long way to go in ensuring the age appropriateness of content out there.
All this media and the form of entertainment surely has a deep impact on children, some of which are:
- Impact on a child’s ability to be sensitive and empathetic
- Impact on a child’s imagination
- Impact on a child’s understanding of some concepts
- Impact on a child’s vocabulary or way of talking
- Impact on a child’s emotional intelligence
Which means that as parents our role is even more important than ever in controlling what content is accessible by our children. Few measures that you can take could be:
1. Watch it first
Not necessarily watch, but if you cannot see the whole content, read reviews, ask your friends, read comments. All of that will help you decide if what your child is about to watch is good for them or not.
2. Watch the content with the child
Even after all the ratings, the censorship is not fool proof! Our Bollywood item numbers in the middle of mythological concepts are a proof of it. The best option here for you as a parent is to watch the content together and explain to the child what the negative content meant or to educate the child with the correct information.
3. Focus on ratings
As per the I&B guidelines every show, movie or digital content has to mention if what is being shown is even slightly inappropriate for children, so all the movies, games, and series content are rated.
4. Understand the ratings of India and US
With OTT platforms booming, it’s essential we understand what the ratings are currently being used in India and abroad.
The ratings in India are:
- U – universal (anyone can watch).
- U/A – view with parental guidance not suitable for all ages.
- A – adults only.
- S – if something is for a specific person or profession.
The ratings in the US are:
- G – general audiences.
- PG – parental guidance.
- PG – 13 – parents strongly cautioned.
- R – restricted, for ages 17 & above and kids below 17 must be accompanied by an adult.
- NC 17 – only above 17 years old will be allowed.
The ratings for video games are also on similar grounds and it is based on the amount of violence, sexual content, and graphics and language extremity. The ratings are:
- C – early childhood.
- E – everyone.
- E-10+ – for ages 10 & above.
- T – teens.
- M- mature.
- A – adult.
Checking the ratings on the content before exposing your child to it is the easiest way to mitigate the impact. These ratings are generic and may vary in India. However, mentioning the age that the game is appropriate for is mandatory. So read the pack carefully.
5. Having a different user profile for your child on your phone and laptop with parental controls
We all know that we can create guest profiles on our phones and laptops which will have limited or controlled access to the apps that you do not want the child to view. This helps in allowing the child to explore within the means that you decide.
6. Open and honest communication
Do not lie about the parental controls or why certain content is not good for the child. In fact, educate the child about how there are different perspectives about everything, and they will understand each of them as they grow old.
Children do grow up fast, and soon they will start deciding what they would like to watch and what not to. But until then we must do all we can to keep our munchkins safe and sound.
About the Guest Author
Sindhu Gouthami, the founder of MoxieandHopper, is an educator and has been training for the past 14 years. With extensive experience in training working professionals and adults on skill development, she realised that true skill development happens at a much younger age, and thus started designing learning courses for kids from the ages of 2-14. She believes that education is not just about literacy or academics but is about empowerment. Moxie and Hopper is an initiative to facilitate experiential learning amongst children with an emphasis on cognitive flexibility, emotional intelligence, and creative thinking to create happy and engaged minds.