My husband and I both feel there are a lot of shows aimed at our 8-year-old that are not necessarily appropriate.
The boyfriend/girlfriend story lines on the popular tween shows make us cringe and we both dislike the bad behaviour many of the characters exhibit in the name of comedy.
We monitor what she watches pretty closely and are in complete agreement that she should not be exposed to mature content until she herself is mature. At least I thought we were in complete agreement until he came home with the entire "Star Wars" DVD collection and suggested we all watch it together.
Needless to say, she was thrilled. I was horrified. The same child who couldn't sleep for two days after reading "Coraline" is going to be okay with watching "Star Wars"? I loudly protested but his assurances and her pleas eventually wore me down. If he thought it was okay, then perhaps I was overreacting. After all, I lost interest in "Star Wars" after seeing the first movie in 1977 -- maybe it wasn't that bad. With my finger ready on the stop button, we settled in for a marathon "Star Wars" adventure.And it was okay. In fact, it was more than okay. She loved it and despite my doubts, had no problem following the complex story line. She did cover her eyes a time or two and we fast-forwarded through a lot of Episode III, but all in all it was a positive bonding experience between her and her "Star Wars"-loving Papa.
It seems that "Star Wars" is a hot-button issue in other families as well. A writer over at SFGate is currently playing the role of "mean mummy" by thwarting her husband and 4-year-old son's desire to see the movies. Despite her husband's assurances that there is no blood depicted, she's checked out the ratings and reviews and is concerned about how her son will react to the potentially scary scenes.
I think for a four-year-old, mum is probably right to be concerned. The movies are fairly intense and a child that young probably wouldn't understand the plot anyway. But while movie ratings and independent reviews are helpful in determining what is appropriate for kids, they aren't an exact science. The "Star Wars" movies are rated PG while those popular tween shows with lying, conniving kids are considered appropriate for an 8-year-old. Which would you rather your child watch?
How do you decide what your child sees? Do you rely on ratings or use your own judgement?