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Seminar in Longview emphasizes media dangers for kids

By Angela Ward award@news-journal.com
Feb. 25, 2013 at 11 p.m.


Three area Parent Teacher Associations joined forces Monday evening for a presentation on the dangers of today's media on children, a portion of which had attendees dancing in their seats - until the lyrics were projected onto a big screen.

Spring Hill ISD Student Resource Officer Roger Askew played clips from TV shows, commercials, video games and musical performances from the 1950s to present day.

From Elvis Presley to Flo Rida and Nicki Minaj, Askew demonstrated to an adults-only crowd how music has evolved over time, bringing into acceptance the discussion of acts that once were taboo.

Some of the lyrics and video games contained graphic depictions of sex and violence.

"I know I may offend you and embarrass you, but that's not my intention," Askew said. "I just want you to learn something about the media your kids are exposed to on a regular basis."

About 50 people attended the event, a joint project of PTAs from Longview, Pine Tree and Spring Hill school districts.

K.J. Gleason, who has a 13-year-old daughter at Foster Middle School, said he appreciated the cooperation between the districts in putting together the program.

"Our rule is that before our daughter can download a song onto her iPad, she has to look up the lyrics and read them out loud to us," Gleason said. "Then we'll talk about whether or not it's an appropriate song in line with our family's values."

Askew said he thought that a lot of the time, neither kids nor parents pay much attention to the lyrics of a song; often they're just enjoying the catchy melody.

"I'm not trying to stand up here like the preacher from 'Footloose' telling you what your kids should and shouldn't be allowed to listen to or play," Askew said. "That's your job as parents. I just want to give you the tools you need to work with in finding the information you need."

While a number of different strategies were discussed, the basics boiled down to parents being involved in their children's lives and adults educating themselves on the content of today's music, TV shows and video games.

Shirley Ballard, whose children are in kindergarten and third grade at Spring Hill schools, said she was glad of the chance to find ways to get more about the media to which her children are exposed.

Askew said that even when parents monitor the media their children access inside the home, kids can still be exposed to things while with friends.

"I don't have all the answers," Askew said. "I just want to encourage you to find out what kind of music, games and TV shows your kids enjoy and then do a little research to find out what kind of behavior that media is advocating."

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