It is clear when a child is to young to see violent/disturbing films but when is a baby too old to see them?
I was contemplating this as I was cuddling The Boy one evening whilst watching a particularly graphic dismemberment during an episode of The Walking Dead. If he was 3 there is no way in hell it’d be on TV. Once I thought he understood any of it it would be instantly banned during waking hours, but my little fella is only 6 weeks old. He can see 30 – 60cm and reacts to light and pretty colours, admittedly mainly red during this episode.
I quite like The Walking Dead, I feel a definite kinship with the brainless shells of people bumbling around mindlessly because something had destroyed their ability to function, I do wonder if the protagonists accidentally take out the odd ante-natal class meet up in the erroneous impression that the groaning haggard new mums are infact zombies.
The Wife hates horror films and so anything about zombies and she’s outta there, much to my discredit it has to be pretty graphic and awful for me to even register it, I usually only register it when a severed limb squirts with the wrong number of arteries or arteries blatantly in the wrong place. Then I get irritated and not disgusted or scared. Medicine ruins horror.
In fact, the last time I saw something really disturbing that made me feel sick on TV (other than Jersey Shore) it was the reality show “One Born Every Minute” which had a baby with shoulder dystocia getting into trouble and I almost had to leave the room because it was making me anxious. I KNEW that they’d never show it if either Mum or Baby carked it but nevertheless… I felt sick ….. and bloody glad I didn’t choose obstetrics!
But when should we start being careful about what’s on TV? I suppose we should be circumspect about what we watch right from the beginning but it seems a bit excessive. The Boy doesn’t even have a concept of self yet, let alone being able to recognise and understand death, violence or, most importantly in this particular situation, hoards of half decomposed exploding bloodthirsty zombies. We are surrounded by sex and violence and we are desensitised to it all, not batting an eyelid when an “unsub” is said to have “raped all 12 murder victims” or something equally hideous, much like me any my occupationally induced inability to register gore. Think back to the last five things you watched on telly, I bet at least three of them had something you wouldn’t want your little ‘un to see. For me this was Wallander, Criminal Minds, The Walking Dead, the NZ News and a documentary about shark finning, a pretty nasty collection of real and imagined violence and gore.
I fully anticipate this issue to become more and more complex once The Boy grows up enough to browse the internet. Do an experiment for me – type something innocuous that we probably say to our babies on a daily basis like “bum” or “poo” and see if you would want your 5 year old looking at those images. Then think what they will find once they type in more interesting words that they learn. The first thing I did when I learnt a new rude word, as a growing nerd, was head to the nearest dictionary to giggle and marvel at the enormous variety of ways genitals can be described. It disturbs me that the equivalent of sniggering in the dictionary corner for my son will be staring wide eyed at google images. I sincerely doubt every computer he accesses will have safe search turned on.
I expect I’ll just play it by ear knowing that if at any point he takes out the neighbours with a pump action shotgun or I find dismembered hitch hikers strewn all over the garden again, I have probably been too lax in supervising his viewing.