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Is Pop Culture a Good or Bad Influence?

How far should parents go to shelter children from outside influences?

Well, it happened. My 7-year-old daughter informed us the other day that she wants the new Justin Bieber CD.

I suppose this should come as no surprise with the amount of play his music gets on the radio, and given the fact that half of her school is already in love with him. But for me, it was a little heartbreaking to face another realization that my little girl is, in fact, growing up.

Actually, it could be a lot worse. I, too, find Justin Bieber to be quite adorable, and pretty innocent, as far as celebrities go. I have friends whose kindergarten- and first-grade age daughters are already idolizing Lady Gaga, so I suppose, I should be thankful that my daughter only idolizes a clean-cut, so far squeaky clean teenager.  In a way, Bieber even sort of reminds me of Shaun Cassidy, whom I idolized when I was her age.

I suppose I am a little freaked out though by the reality that, no matter how much you try and shelter your kids, the outside world of pop culture eventually comes seeping in.

Not too long ago, my daughter’s biggest idol was Tinkerbell, who for the past year now has been considered “uncool.” Tinkerbell has been replaced by the likes of Hannah Montana and I-Carly.

In recent weeks, it has become increasingly difficult to monitor everything my children watch on television. There have been times when I’ve been in our kitchen cooking dinner, and I’ve entered our family room to find a show on the Disney Channel showing teens or pre-teens in situations that I still feel are a little too mature for our household’s viewing audience.

And sometimes while driving a distance with my kids in the car, I have turned on the radio to hear a pop song with a fun beat that I can enjoy with my children—until I actually stop and listen to the song's lyrics.

When I was growing up, my parents forbid me from ever watching televisions shows like Three’s Company, and even The Dukes of Hazzard, which made me want to watch those programs even more.

Which brings me to my question: Is it better as parents to try and shelter our children from today’s pop culture, or is it more effective to embrace the inevitable, and find a way to enjoy the Justin Biebers and Hannah Montanas with your children?

Devon Vida March 23, 2011 at 07:04 PM
My fear with sheltering my children from pop culture is that they will be influenced by peers and then feel the need to lie about their interests. It's difficult to not approve of something so broad that you have little control over exposure to outside of the home. I would rather be involved in helping them form a responsible view of pop culture and what it realistically is, rather than make them feel guilty for sharing a friends iPod on the bus and listening to something they know you would disapprove of.
Tabitha Hardin March 27, 2011 at 04:11 PM
If your a good parent then pop culture will not affect them. we put to much onus on what will destroy our kids when 90% of all the people that are messed up in the world is due to crappy parents, and the inability to let go.

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