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Seun Tuyo: The Role of Entertainment Media in Parenting

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Bored out of my mind…sitting at home on Easter Sunday with all the festivities wearing out, I was thinking of something to do that required no effort at all. Ah! I thought, I’ll flick around the TV channels. I start flicking the local TV channels and I am attracted to the loud music booming from one of the channels. There are heavy chants of ‘your waist, your waist, all I want is your waist’ – a hit track from one of Nigeria’s new generation musicians. I get very interested in what looks like a fanfare; the camera is fixed on an energetic crowd, who was cheering so vigorously. I waited impatiently for the camera to show at least a sneak peak of what these people were cheering at. Soon my curiosity was satisfied…. little children dancing.

It was an Easter Carnival for kids. Most of them appeared to be under the ages of 14. I watched them on the dance floor and then subconsciously exclaimed, ‘Oh my’ Describing the erotic dance skills they portrayed on here will not do justice completely but I’ll try. They rolled their waist, hopped, twisted, attempted pole dancing on air, in fact, the more vulgar the dancer went, the louder the cheers from the crowd. My cousin stepped in to the room to see if I had found myself something interesting to watch, to her amazement, I was fixated on this.

Now the song had changed to another one – not so different from the first, “Eh…Alhaji, alhaji”…if I thought they were previously on a fast gear, I was in for a rude shock. Before I could even say “alhaji”, the children had hit the nitro switch and entered overdrive. They began to perform dance magic on stage – vibrating bodies, waist rolling, hands in the air, eyes rolling, sweat dripping, for some, tongues stretched out and others mouth open (very far from convulsing or exorcism though). Not long after, a little girl of about 7 years old, headed for the floor, did a split and started twisting and hitting the floor with her butt, the crowd still cheered on, my jaw dropped. I couldn’t explain exactly how I felt at that moment. I wanted to change the channel to something else, anything at all but this. I felt very uncomfortable, and guilty for watching it at all (Yes, I finally found a description for how I felt).

As I made my thoughts vocal, my cousin chuckled and said ‘wait till it is the turn of the parents’. My mouth tasted sour, I was indeed disappointed! Where did those little children, especially that little girl learn that? She must be replicating something she’d seen. What happened to the days when media content was strictly monitored and controlled by parents and regulatory bodies? TV stations had specific time for kiddies programs and adults as well. These were in sync with school time and bedtime. I remember getting home from school around 3pm when I did not have any extracurricular classes, between 4pm to 6:30pm varieties of cartoons and educative programs like KidiVision 101, Speak Out, Tales by moonlight (our Sunday special) kept me busy. My mom had the TV once it was 7pm; she religiously listened to the news on different stations until 10pm, and still does. My bedtime was 8pm.

This was a rule because she insisted on my brother and I listening to the news headlines at 7pm before heading for bed. I didn’t like the news but hey, in my house if you were not up to date, no parties. Talking about parties, children’s parties were children’s parties, we enjoyed tasteful music with censored lyrics that did not go beyond ‘take some time to bubble and shuffle’ or ‘Uhh Yea, I wish you happy birthday, Uhh Yea, very many happy returns’, easy dance steps that were strictly swaying left and right on the same spot, an imitation of Michael Jackson, or the lovely ‘chair dance’, with lots of games and refreshments. Adults had their own time well after ours was over, different music, different dance steps and different refreshments. If you were born before the 90’s, you can relate to these and even more societal norms that I might not remember. This is no longer the case these days.

The media is rapidly taking over parenting in many households. Parents are under so much socio-economic pressure to make ends meet. Parents unknowingly pass on the need to provide distractions and babysitting to the media, who elbows the parent and gallantly step in to fill that obligation in the way they know best, to entertain! It is intended to entertain but in reality, it takes over the core of parenting. Character formation, value and culture orientation and mentoring are in the hands of the media. Children learn by observing and imitating. Think about it, common words used repeatedly around them are copied, including profane words. Even as adults, while watching a movie or a programme, at times, you get engrossed in the plot, or the actors. The effect lingers long after the movie is over. And thanks to technology we have found other ways to keep reliving the fantasies. The world has evolved, and so has information technology.

The presence of the media is strong everywhere with overwhelming content. More “suggestive” dance steps, explicit sexual content, drug and alcohol use, violence, nudity, and profanity are shown on many TV stations and shared on various social media platforms – unrated – mainly to satisfy the adult’s crave for entertainment. Children, however, do not have the complete capacity to discern fantasy from reality and therefore, should not be exposed to this kind of theatre. During their formative years, children accede to whatever they see on the media and build a belief of an ideal lifestyle out of it. For example, you find young boys choose to wear clothes bigger than their sizes just to look like the ‘rappers’ on TV while young girls have to wear everything and anything that Selena Gomez of ‘Wizard of Waverly Places’ or the old Miley Cyrus of “Hannah Montana” put on. When a child sees a video of young adults whining and grinding against each other on the dance floor, they begin to believe that, that is a reflection of maturity – the ultimate seal of acceptance and adulthood amongst their peers, that is, and you know what they will definitely do next. Social media platforms competing for a child’s attention have become numerous today.

It is impossible to keep an accurate record (ask your child how many channels and how many sites he/she visits daily). A child can spend more hours watching television, browsing the Internet (computer, tablet, and laptop), playing a video game console, and chatting on a mobile phone – than in school or with family.

There are fall-outs from excessive media use – I know this because I have seen it in my little cousins at home. Their attention span reduces; they find difficulties in school, academic performance decline, sleep and eating disorders increase. In more extreme cases, an appetite develops for alcohol and illegal drugs, sexuality and violence. It all emphasizes a fundamental point: although our world has always experienced change, the rate of change, today, is going out of control.

These days, children mature quickly. The growing up process has been eliminated. Parents and guardians are caught up in the assumption of what their children should already know at a certain age. We cannot assume children to have the same sense of judgment as adults.

It is the responsibility of parents to teach their child what is appropriate or not. Take time to re-evaluate your style of parenting and the media. What kind of minds are you raising? Are you enforcing a rating system on media in your home? What do we expect these minds to develop into, having been exposed to unrestricted media content? Are we raising responsible adults we need to help build a better society? You are probably wondering now if I am only aware of the negativity that comes with the media but I tell you, the effect of the media is debatable – it has its pros and cons and like everything else, moderation and supervision bridges the gap.

Times have changed, no doubt, we are busier than ever, life is more complicated as a result of globalization and the evolution of technology, but I strongly believe it is our responsibility (you, me, and everyone else) to guide our children positively, do not put it off. Parents should make out more time to spend with their children. Do not concede to making the media a member of your family…a permanent shareholder. We owe our society this much. Remember, it takes a whole village to raise a child.

Photo Credit: parade.condenast.com
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Seun Tuyo is interested in social development. She loves to interact with people and has a desire to make a profound and positive impact around the world. She suffers moments of weaknesses at the sight of chocolates and a cold bottle of Coca Cola. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram – @seuntuyo

Seun Tuyo is interested in social development. She loves to interact with people and has a desire to make a profound and positive impact around the world. She suffers moments of weaknesses at the sight of a cold bottle of Coca-cola and Chocolates. Feel free to reach her on twitter and instagram @seuntuyo.

26 Comments

  1. @edDREAMZ

    May 16, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Too long but i hope it makes some sense though…..
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    ***CURRENTLY IN JUPITER***

  2. Fashionista

    May 16, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Hmmnnn I have personally experienced the dance moves too. I was at a ten year old party and I tell you, this ten year old girl was gyrating and swinging her hips like a full blown woman. She had the face to match; eyes partially squinted and mouth half open. To tell the truth a lot of the older crowd were actually very uncomfortable. The parents of our generation have a lot more work to do than our own parents; social media, globalisation and the advent of having a “cool kid” is distorting a lot of values.

  3. Anonymous

    May 16, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    God bless you for this article. it isn’t easy to stand up and speak the truth in this age of jet parenting but the truth remains whether we wanna hear it or not. i think the impact of TV on children of school age should be given serious consideration.

  4. Abiola

    May 16, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    I love this article, very apt and well written and I honestly hope every parent gets to read this.

    Even though the parenting job gets more difficult with each passing day but I believe with some more effort, it can be done. Regulate TV time & programs, monitor and control them and their activities before they become uncontrollable.

  5. Ani

    May 16, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    @ Seun, i feel your plight. You see it is called the ‘in-thing’. I’m so scared of this generation, that i look at my kids sometimes and pray they don’t go out there to meet sharks. I’m very old school, i miss my growing up days. What you saw is what happens everywhere now. When you see the way some children dance at parties, you mouth practically drops.
    These children are exposed to these songs in their homes, and environment. I remember a child’s party i attended some years ago, it was time for the children to dance. The dance started and there was this girl, her dance could even make a gay man straight. I’m talking of a girl of 10, i said 10. Her dance was so bad that some women beckoned on the MC to tell her to sit down. To say we were shocked was an understatement.

    Some parents and guardians encourage their daughters to dance like that. They make them watch these songs at home. In my home it is cartoon only. Although my kids are less than 5 years old. And not all cartoon channels are watched by them. We parents have a lot to do. It is not easy, I do not watch any musical channel when my kids are there. I’m so scared of what they will see. That doesn’t mean they won’t grow to hear some of these songs, but it is good we do not expose them to these songs so early in life. There is time for everything. Make them know they are just songs and they do not have to dance that way in order for them to be accepted. Expose them to educational materials, as a christian, i expose them to bible stories, songs, etc. Control your house help. Some of these helps destroy our children, because we are hardly around. Sometimes it’s good to sneak in on them when they are alone with your kids without their knowledge.

    Also for the kids who are old enough to play games, limit the way they play. Don’t make it their number one priority. Being a parent is one of the hardest job ever. It is so painful when you do all you can to raise good kids and when they go to school, they mix up with some kids who teach them something entirely different from what you have taught them.

    Please let’s help these kids we owe them that. God help us parents. We were raised properly.

  6. Marc Francis of Chelsea

    May 16, 2014 at 4:41 pm

    Oh please. I remember being young and doing the Butterfly dance with my cousins at parties. All the kids did it. To us then, there was nothing remotely sexual about the dance. We just thought it was a cool dance that we learned from Patra’s music video (where she wore pum pum shorts btw). It is the adult mentality that is skewed. We have sexualised everything to the point where little children dancing is themed vulgar and inappropriate, regardless of the face that such was not the child’s intention. It’s a different case if the children are grinding on each other. The fact is that children are interested in what is popular. When cripwalk was popular, we cripwalked. When shuffle was popular, we shuffled. So if a little girl is rolling her waist to Iyanya, try to take the dirty thoughts out of your mind and just see it for what it is–dancing.

    • Omo

      May 19, 2014 at 8:13 am

      You need help!

  7. NKECHI

    May 16, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    Seun, your article is great and timely! We need more of such articles. In medical practice, we are seeing cases of addiction to pornography. Most are linked to bad parenting. I think parents need help in this time of globalization. I know some NGOs out there are working on these issues of parenting. No one can remain indifferent. Either we rise to stop this wave of sexually enslaving young children or we have a society rift with the attendant problems associated with such. Thank you BellaNiaja for posting this lovely piece. Nkechi

  8. yemmy

    May 16, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Thank you so much Seun Tuyo, may God bless you for publishing this write up. As much as I try not to follow the band wagon and keep my children in check, I still learnt a lot from your article. Thank you Bellanaija for sharing as well

  9. Omotayo

    May 16, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Well written article. Eye opening too. Its rather upsetting having to watch these little kids dance nowadays. I really do hope that we do something about it!!!

  10. Ifizion

    May 16, 2014 at 6:08 pm

    A well detailed article….. It really doesn’t matter how many people took time to read this but I am sure it will change a life somewhere… Keep the good work on and your voice will remain more audible in the social development sphere of influence…

  11. nehi

    May 16, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    Very nice write up, and sadly even their parents are proud of it, guess they don’t see anything wrong with it. I think its one of the many Signs of the end times, was in the saloon one day and right beside me sat a very beautiful little girl, as the music played on she sang along, with joy word for word not minding wat was being said, I thought to myself “I hope she’s as smart in school” at least! I think the parents are to blame though.

  12. Lota

    May 16, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Tuale Seun……. I have to send this article to my uncle’s wife. All this modern age parents SMH for them, na God go save us cos me na proper discipline for my kids. No time for nonsense!!!

  13. chinenye

    May 16, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    Thanks for this article Seun. We’ve got a whole lot of work to do in raising children now. I remember growing up and waiting for it to be 4 o’clock so cartoons would start. And just like you Seun, my dad made us watch 7pm news (his kids must be current news wise lol). God help us in this generation

  14. DFD

    May 16, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    Thanks 4d lovely article. Am a 90’s kid and am also surprise how things have changed. It’s so unfortunate that most song are based on sex and a woman’s assets? I saw Timaya’s Shake ur bum bum and I almost passed out. These guys were fully clothed and d women wore only G-strings. U have said it all, but notwithstanding, parents should be mindful of what their children watch and they should also make children understand the meaning of self-worth and decency. God give us d grace to lead right. It’s well.

  15. Dr. N

    May 17, 2014 at 12:21 am

    Well written. I must say that it is not just dancing. We cannot continue to dismiss these songs and dances. I hope our artists rise to the challenge of producing child friendly music. At my kids’ parties, it’s gospel music all d way. The beats may be similar but, the atmosphere is different. Very difficult to whine ya bum to “Praise the Lord”. We did d popular dances back then but they were not erotic. Every decision has a consequence.

  16. Dee one

    May 17, 2014 at 12:47 am

    Yay….seun I see you, so the whole world now knows that you are a chocolate addict….Lmao. Nice article, you better quit dat job of urs and start hosting seminars for parents. Lol

  17. Laura

    May 17, 2014 at 7:29 am

    weldone Seun!!!! This is very informative. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Kems

    May 17, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    Well said and well written, but i must say that the problems this generation faces go way beyond music and dancing. In church last week, i had a chat with the youth about how the devil uses different things to distract us and then asked about what distractions they have experienced. The answers were shocking: from 17 year olds who were exposed to drug trafficking, and ‘AC’ or cheque fraud to 13 year old girls who were being offered weed in school. A 12 year old girl then asked what she could do if she just found out her best friend was attracted to girls? I asked how she found out and she said the girl had tried to hit on her and assumed she was cool with it. I went home scared for the future of this younger generation, we need to be there more for them as parents, guardians and just generally older people who can offer a listening ear, support or guidance. We need to strive to be better role models ourselves. And we need to, as parents quit the notion that money is more important than good, quality time spent with family. May God help us all.

  19. C C Holland

    May 18, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    Sadly, this article is not just words put together by an intelligent mind but rather the true reflection of the values our “modern day society” and “social media trained kids”. I wish parents will read this and do a reality check. Thumbs up Miss Seun Tuyo

  20. bhookey

    May 18, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    Well written…jst as @ifizion said it doesn’t matter how many pple dat read this but surely it wld change a life… we’re all we’ve got n if we keep raising our voices we sure wld make a change!!!

  21. Joy Babasola

    May 19, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    You have hit the nail on the very spot my dear lil sister. A lot of parents are more interested in making ends meets these days than thinking on the future of their children. The major reason why I resigned from banking was to enable me have ample time for my children. Money isn’t everything cos it won’t help to shape the children. The media world should be sanctioned for showing all these DANGEROUS things. They now show these programmed anytime of the day. It’s terribly sad that these things have taken a turn vortex the worse. May God grant us the wisdom to be able to prioritize right.

  22. efe

    May 19, 2014 at 2:10 pm

    This is really word for thought for both parents,not just the mums alone.
    Looks like parents have lost priority of it all,you find young children into drugs already and their dress sense scary cause l wonder what kind of home they came out from dressed like that.
    Most of the Entertainers nowadays are not helping issues with the meaningless songs they sing ,ladies naked . l always tell my daughter this song or that is bad and the dances are not decent,so she is beginning to know the difference at a tender age between good or bad song or part of movies and i spent most of my available time with her and very conscious of the kind of job l want,might not get the kind of money,i want but the time spent and the morals and values passed on to her,MONEY can never buy such and we need to realize that we need to deny ourselves some of those irrelevant things forming a cliche and wanting to feel among.
    For me my NO is No and YEs is YES. Pathetic stories here and there of how children are abused from maids to relatives,some have no manners and do have have a single fear or respect for their parents even the way they talk to them ,because we are chasing money and who are we doing all this for ? The CHILDREN.
    @ Joy babasola. i respect you for that decision made as a lot of my friends are tolling that part to leave their time demanding Jobs,leave home at 4am and get back at past 11pm to 12 midnight. Chai,there is God and we all will give account of them to God at the end of it all.
    We have to work at it ,as the Grace of GOd is available for us to tap into.
    God bless,keep and watch over our Children whom He has made great and mighty seeds In Jesus name.

  23. Tytes

    May 21, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    Seun Tuyo… Well done Girl! This is a very lovely and educative piece. I hope it doesn’t just scratch on the surface but goes deep down to the heart of all parents and guardians. The truth is ” every child is your child”. If they are ignored today, they become the menace of the society tomorrow. As parents, God has made us custodians of these little ones and we will give account someday. We need to be mindful of what our children watch, what they interact with and whom they relate with.

  24. Mag3

    May 26, 2014 at 11:57 am

    Very important issue addressed in this article. Thanks for highlighting the detrimental effect that TV and the media in general is having on our children.

  25. Steego

    May 28, 2014 at 11:41 am

    Hello Seun, It is the generation we are in right now that is showing you all that you have written about now. As much as I want to tell you there is a way round this problem sorry there may be none at all. My approach as a parent is to try and regulate the the times the times and channels my kids are exposed to in my house when i am home or my wife is. Now the down part of this is that when these kids go out to their friend’s houses where there is no control they see all that you have censored at home!!! What I feel as a parent and what i try and apply in my household is that there is always the door of communication open, be a friend to your kids try and play with them at their level and see what they know and how they apply it. Some of these moves they make dancing, if you speak to them you find out that they make these moves innocently; we adults now interpret all the moves as dangerous. I am not saying the moves are not but these kids do not mean them so.
    Parenting these days have been handed over to the TV and the house help just because mum and dad are trying to be like the Jones!! Copy copy!!!! Parents buying their wards the top range phones at such tender ages? Wrong if you ask me. Parents making uo their kids to look like adults!! Wrong!! Yes we agree that in this day and age kids are coming of age quicker than we did. Most girls are starting their monthly cycles at very young ages, it is the nature of the times we are in now but that does not take away their innocence. Now when a mother puts on her child that Brazilian wig and all those lashes.. hmmm.. there comes a woman instead of child.
    But i am of the belief that the more you can talk and be friends with your kids the more you can actively advise them on these issues at hand so that they are educated about them and they can make informed choices.

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