Watching mature content with your kids: parental sin or learning opportunity?

mature content ed illustration

Allowing children to watch age-inappropriate content with adult supervision isn’t the parental no-no we think it is, but a chance for parents to educate their kids on important issues children’s shows often fail to address.

Content ratings themselves are inaccurate and outdated, grading content by things like profane language and suggestive content, things older kids will inevitably become exposed to, whether through shows, online, or from a peer.

What’s deemed appropriate content is subjective. In 2017, YouTube’s restricted mode—which allows users to restrict videos based on age appropriateness—blocked LGBTQ content from users. Children’s shows themselves can be flawed, as a recent study shows kids shows inaccurately reflect pain experienced in everyday life.

As it becomes more common for kids to have their own technology, accidentally stumbling upon an inappropriate website or YouTube video isn’t just a possibility, but a probability. Rather than shutting down conversations about topics like sex and masturbation, it’s vital that parents address them head-on, both to reduce stigmatization and ensure their kids are receiving accurate information.

TV shows with PG-13 and above ratings provide the perfect jumping off point for addressing these issues. Shows can help bring about organic conversation and give kids room to ask questions about what they’re viewing. This is especially important for issues like LGBTQ content and menstruation, in addition to sex.

Avoiding discussions about these issues only pushes kids not to talk about them and gives the damaging notion that there’s something “wrong” with menstruating, having sex, or being part of the LGBTQ community—ideas that will carry into their adolescence and adulthood.

These are all natural processes no one should feel ashamed of. The taboos surrounding them are outdated, and if we want to dismantle them, we must look to educating younger generations thoroughly and early to do so.

In the future, online and television content aimed toward children should look to be more educational about the issues that matter, rather than dumbing down content or presenting the same “golden rules” we’ve been learning since we were born.

In kids’ most formative years, parents must lean into conversations that might at first feel uncomfortable, not just for the sake of education but to show kids they can and should be able to openly talk about normal experiences they’ll inevitably face.

This isn’t the 1970s. Menstruation and sexuality will only stay taboo if we let them.

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