Rules, Rules, Rules | Ariana Thompson
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not represent Pulse Magazine nor CCA as a whole.
Children’s TV is almost as old as TV itself. Since 1946, with the creation of the “Children’s Hour” programme kids have been entertained by television or other video content. During that time children’s media has gone through many stylistic and even medium changes. Most recently, kids now choose to forgo television for watching Youtube instead. With this expansion in the content available to children, it must be asked: How should we regulate children’s media? In my opinion, there should be regulation on multiple fronts. I think we should regulate dangerous content, and addictive features of the platform.
One of the most important goals of regulating internet content is to prevent the spread of dangerous content to children. The wide amount of content on the internet and, in particular on Youtube, may accidentally lead to children being exposed to obscene content. According to Brown Political Review, “While only 10% of parents surveyed by Common Sense Media believe it is YouTube’s role to monitor content, 60% did not use parental controls on YouTube, or were not aware of their existence.” This lax monitoring of videos on Youtube, leads to obscene content slipping through the cracks and reaching children. This form of content moderation directly contributes to kids being regularly exposed to content inappropriate for their age. So much exposure to adult content at a young age warps children’s perspectives, when they are so young, and prevents them from forming healthy conceptualizations of the world around them.
Additionally, watching TV or Youtube videos may also be addictive. Biological processes such as the orienting response, which occurs when we automatically give our visual/auditory attention to new stimuli can be manipulated by formal features of television – cuts, edits, zooms, pans, sudden notes – which activate the orienting response thereby keeping attention on the screen. These features, which are useful for stimulating attention for television, also lead to low attention spans. The constant stimulation received while watching television also contributes to addiction, as many children who are exposed to a lot of television grow adjusted to it and become uncomfortable doing anything less entertaining than watching TV.
Some people may argue that children’s television should not be regulated, instead opting to leave it up to the individual. They believe it’s a matter of personal responsibility. Parents want the government to step in and do a job they were already responsible for. However, this perspective fails to account for the fact that whether or not it is their responsibility to regulate their children’s youtube, many parents will not be able to do it. Whether because they’re too busy working, aren’t aware of parental controls, or they just don’t feel comfortable doing it, for most parents, it’s not feasible for them to be constantly monitoring their children’s content, especially on a site like Youtube where there have been documented cases of inappropriate content reaching children’s feeds, even on supposedly safe platforms, like Youtube Kids.
Overall, in order to help children, we should regulate their media, so that they can be protected from inappropriate content and so that they will be able to form healthy connections, not addictions to the internet.