These are the days of advanced media technology. Some years back, when I was much younger, the only thing one could watch was the wooden box-like black and white television in my Dads sitting room.
That television came alive only at 4.00pm on weekdays with a rendition of the national anthem and was dead again at eleven or there about after the network news with the national pledge. On Saturdays, it started much earlier at 10.00am with Sasame Street and God, I never missed an edition. There were very few viewing options and then any one who owned a video player in a neighbourhood was sure to play host to all the children in the neighbourhood either littered on the floor inside the sitting room or peeping from the windows, each time the video was playing
But today, we can now watch whatever we want to, from whatever part of the world and at whatever time of the day. The local television, cable television, the satellite, the internet, the 3G technology in handsets, Video, CD and DVD players, name it, are all now at our very disposal and with the press of a button, we are availed of all sorts of motion pictures on our screens providing high level entertainment and relaxation.
Beyond the entertainment and the feeling of being up to date which these sophisticated gadgets give us; they are also a potent means for self destruction. Unfortunately, there is often no restriction to the content of what is on our screens. While they are all often pooled together under the umbrella of “Entertainment”, it is common knowledge that the content often varies ranging from the very critical and educative to the obscene and downright immoral.
Most parents in line with the times provide these viewing gadgets at home but very few, a negligible percentage I believe care to monitor and know exactly what their kids are watching. Many research reports have it that what is picked up from the media is responsible for a great percentage of delinquent behaviour and anti social tendencies among teenagers worldwide. I strongly agree.
Parents must note that for example, movies are graded for a reason and it is their responsibility to make sure their children do not see movies graded above their age so that they do not see what they rather shouldn’t see. A child who is exposed to films with violence and strong language will naturally tend in that direction and it is not unusual to observe such a child beating up other kids and freely using the F-word as well as other abusive foul languages in his/her vocabulary. Such a child is not very far from gangsterism and cultism later in life. Campus cultism in Nigeria for example was promoted and sustained to a large extent in the 90’s by the explosion of hip-hop music in the country and then prevailing East side West side (Tu-pac-BIG) dichotomy.
In the same vain, a child exposed to films with nudity and sex often tends to want to experiment with his/her own body or any available body. The end result of such tendencies is better imagined. There are so many American high school movies with kissing and sex scenes and it is not so difficult for your teenage kids who are usually in the same age bracket as those on the screen to feel that “oh, I too should be doing this”.
The latest and perhaps most dangerous and threatening of them all is the Internet. I say it is the most dangerous because not too many homes in Nigeria currently have access to it, thus, most kids go out to the cyber cafes to access it and there, they are out of the reach and control of their parents.
Recently, I was shocked and visibly angered when I noticed that two little boys (not quite 10 or 11) browsing just beside me in a café were actually viewing pornography. Usually in a café, I mind my business but it must have been their repeated excited giggle that had drawn my attention to peep at their screen and what I saw was both nauseating and appalling.
For a while I was speechless, perhaps too shocked to speak. The boys had this look of a Lion just distracted from hunting down its prey. A kind of ehem, can we help you? They weren’t just watching, they were downloading into a removable storage gadget plugged to the system for perhaps, continued viewing at home. Beyond my rebuking the kids and getting the cyber attendant to send them out was the ominous question…, Are the parents aware of their children’s where about?, Are they aware of what they are watching?
Chasing them out that day was one thing, stopping them from viewing pornography was another as they could have as well just walked down the road to another cyber café and continued from where they stopped. In Nigerian cyber cafes, any thing goes. Not withstanding the bold notices such as “No 419 Mails” and “No Pornography” users still do just those things without hindrance. The cyber attendants’ are privy of this but turn the other way as soon as they collect their money.
Unlike internet fraud which recently got a law and an agency enforcing it, I am not aware of any law against viewing of internet pornography especially by minors in Nigeria and if there is, no one is bothering about enforcing it.
Children have a delicate innocence that can be easily influenced, traumatized and subsequently destroyed by what they watch on the screen. Once they have imbibed something negative, it becomes almost impossible to change them and they don’t just imbibe, they often also go ahead to ‘innocently’ practicalise, destroying their lives and those of their friends in the process.
Most parents are often too busy or rather feign to be busy to monitor and show some extra interest in what their children are watching. Such parents must note that they would have failed in their parental duties if that child (or children) of theirs ends up a junky, a prostitute or a sexual pervert because of what they freely let them watch. The implication of having a media induced, morally deranged generation can best be imagined.
WHAT ARE YOUR CHILDREN WATHCHING?
August 25, 2008 by nzesylva