This post has been prompted after chatting on Twitter (as you do) about whether primary school children should be taught about pornography. This was debated on BBC Radio 5 Live. I didn't hear the broadcast but it did raise questions about what is taught to our primary school age children.
I have a nine year old boy. He is into WWE and loves watching it on the TV, many of his friends are also big fans. Dyl understands the wrestling is staged and it is entertainment and I saw no real harm in it. Until my husband picked up the iPad and checked the browsing history as he does.
There it was – someone had searched for 'wwe sexy ladies' the following search was simply 'sexy ladies'. We were shocked and when my husband checked the content we realised we had been naive and had let our son see things that we are not happy about him seeing. We had a chat about it with him and I don't think he will search again – well he can't on the iPad due to a new parental control app.
As teachers we thought we were on the ball with all this stuff, we thought we knew what our children were doing. We are secondary school teachers and I honestly didn't think we needed to educate Dyl about images of women.
We want our son to grow up with a healthy, respectful understanding of the genders. I do not want him believing that the images he saw are a true representation of women.
But I don't think it is the schools remit to cover this – it is my job as a parent. Too much seems to have become the responsibility of the school and of teachers, parents need to step up.
The bigger question though is how much has changed since we were that age. Childhood has changed, the innocence has disappeared. Dyl is a product of a technological age, born into an era like his teenage sister where having the internet at their fingertips is the norm.
They have grown up when owning a mobile phone as the norm. Dyl doesn't own a phone and has no desire to but my teenager's blackberry rarely leaves her hand. We have a no phones rule at the table but still it invades family time.
As a teacher I see the addiction of mobile phones; although the school has a no phones policy many have them and use them constantly. They are at the mercy of instant messaging and social media. I have witnessed the fall out of friendships via social media and messages that are sent that hurt and bully others. Again this technology has compromised childhood. It is making children grow up too fast.
Globalisation and consumption are an ever growing challenge for tweens and teens. I do believe that this is eroding childhood as it is blurring the boundaries. Girls are pressurised to look a certain way; the magazines encourage the obsession with a celebrity culture and celebrity lifestyle. Ask many girls who their role model is and it will be someone young and rich. I want girls to have aspirations but the aspiration should be about being successful in a chosen career.
In one way childhood has been extended, young people are staying longer in education; they are reliant on their parents for longer financially. We have become boomerang families where after university young adults often come home through lack of jobs and the high cost of living. Yet at the same time teenagers are under more pressure than ever.
There has been a rise in mental health issues for teenagers. Anorexia has been in the news again with claims that one in 10 teenagers have an eating disorder.
Childhood is disappearing and as a society we need to do what we can to give children a safe, secure and happy childhood.
Now is the time to get out and make time to play with your child. It is so important. Children learn best through simple play times which enhances problem solving skills, attention span, social development and creativity. Therefore if we want happy adults we need to provide happy childhoods. Childhood is where play is encouraged and healthy relationships between children and parents are fostered. It will help keep the communication channels open and then parents can parent and children can be children.
Emma is a teacher by trade and began blogging to channel her need to write. Over the last few years Emma's blog emmaand3 has also told the poignant story of her youngest daughter's journey with the rare condition of Hip Dysplasia. Emma parents a toddler, tween and teen and shares their stories.
Blogs at: Emmaand3