I recently read a thread by Jack Monroe about the David Williams books and what’s in them. As an avid book lover I was shocked to discover the theme and language used in these books. However I couldn’t help but think that this is what happens when we don’t take stock of what our kids are taking in. Or think about the suitability of toys, books and tv shows aimed at them.
Having an awareness
It’s good to have an awareness of what Spike is taking in. I like to watch stuff with her then have conversations about what she’s watching. I like to read the books she reads first so I know what themes they explore. So I know what questions she may have. I will veto things if I don’t believe she’s old enough to understand them. Or if she’ll be scared by them. Or if I don’t like things they portray.
But they are aimed at kids their age
So many parents don’t do this. They look at things that other kids are doing who are the same age as them. Then take that as an indication that their kid can enjoy them too. I get the parenthood is a busy ‘hood’ to be in. I get that you may not have time to take in things, read things, that your kids might want to take in. Though I find it kind scary. The David Williams books were a prime example. So many people in the comments of the Facebook thread I read said that they weren’t aware of the use of the term ‘slag’ in the books,. Until their child asked what it meant. They just understood that their child was in the right ‘age range’ for that book. Therefore thought it would be suitable.
Suitability is something I didn’t really get when I was younger. Not when I was as little as Spike but later on in life. When I was a teenager especially. I used to watch films that I definitely wasn’t old enough for. Or read magazines that were too old for me. That made me grow up before my time and made me know so many things I didn’t fully understand. I don’t want that for Spike so I try my hardest to ensure that she plays with toys, reads books and watches things that are suitable. If she asks to watch something that I don’t know I’ll either sit with her and watch for a while. At the very least I will google its suitability. Though even then I may not get a full enough outline.
Toys age ranges
Toys at the moment are mainly chosen by me. But I know this is on the way out. Spike is made aware of things from her school friends and kids on our estate. Another article I saw recently spoke about the suitability of LOL Surprise dolls and the fact they have sexy underwear on when you expose them to water. These dolls are aimed at girls age 5 and up. The perfect age for Spike… While I don’t have an issue with sexy underwear. I don’t want my 5 year old to think that ripped fishnets and sexy lace bras/thongs are suitable for her. So those toys wont be going anywhere near her toy box for quite some time. I try to ignore the age ranges of toys as much as I ignore the gendered marketing that goes alongside them. Going for toys with longevity and suitability based on her interests. But these are toys she has been asking about for a while…
Vetoing things that your child enjoys
One of the things I can’t abide is Peppa Pig. Spike loves it, even now. She used to watch it all the time. But now I’ve really watched it, I have had to limit it in our house. I would prefer that she doesn’t watch it at all. But I choose to limit and share with her my thoughts instead. It upsets Spike that I don’t like her watching it. That I wont let her watch it if I’m in the room. But if you actually watch the show you’ll hear the amount of fat shaming that goes on. Add to that the attitude of the main character. These things rub off on Spike and when she watches a lot of it, she starts acting the way Peppa does. It’s a TV Show aimed at pre-schoolers. It’s suitability therefore appears to be on point for any child over the age of 2 on paper. But when you really take in what it says, its not suitable for any preschooler. I don’t want my child thinking its funny to take the piss out of someone for being overweight.
Your own opinion
Of course, all of this is my opinion. Other people might not care about the fat shaming of daddy pig. Or the fact that the LOL dolls have sexy underwear on. You also might not even think the term slag is bad for a 7 year old to read in a book. But there will be other things that you will consider unsuitable. And if you don’t truly take in the things that your children are taking in you will never know.