The sealed section - for kids.


Before you get alarmed, I am referring to a section of our DVD cupboard that the children are not allowed to watch.
I can tell I’ve alarmed you again. I am simply referring to a range of children’s DVDs that the children are not allowed to watch yet.

There is a debate raging in our household and Harry Potter is at the centre of the maelstrom. My 4 year old nephew has been allowed to watch the Harry Potter movies 1, 2 and 3, but my older children (aged 7 and 8) are not allowed to watch the third movie yet.

When I was a child, my parents firmly believed that what we watched on television or at the movies, would be internalised and would influence our emotional development.

It’s not a revolutionary or new theory and at the time I found the parental restrictions frustrating and often embarrassing. I think prohibiting me from watching Dirty Dancing at the cinema with my friends quickly demoted me from Nerd to Super Nerd and I have never really recovered socially.

But now I find myself worried about my children’s young minds (and I fear I am becoming just like my parents).

I love the Harry Potter books and the movies but I don’t think my children are ready for all of them. From Book 3 onwards, the books and the films become darker and sadder.

My 7 year old son is an avid reader. He’s reading Book 2 at the moment and whilst he might be able to “read” the later books I’m not entirely sure he will be able to understand them. Each child is different, I get that. As for the HP films, I feel there’s something more intrusive and frighteningly memorable about cinema. The children are young and if I don’t regulate them, they will be able to watch the films faster and earlier than they will read the books.

Sometimes I feel like parenthood has turned me into a neurotic, anti-freedom of expression fascist. I have been known to fast-forward the first chapter of Finding Nemo. I just don’t think it’s necessary for our younger children (aged 2 and 3) to see a barracuda shark take out Coral and her hundreds of babies. It’s deep sea carnage and I prefer to start the film 5 minutes later.

I find myself wondering why there is so much parental abandonment going on in everything from Disney to Diego (watch it carefully people). And why is there a proliferation of hypnotic American preteen sit-coms with preteens who don’t look preteen enough to me? Someone needs to make Alice Miranda into a TV series.

I could be completely wrong and suffocatingly over-protective. I am torn. I want to challenge the children to read brilliant literature and enjoy film and popular culture. I just want to pace their exposure to all of these things, which is hard when their friends and cousins have cooler parents than they do. Does any one know if Amazon does a Famous Five DVD boxset?

Shankari Chandran is a recent returner after ten years in London. Formerly a social justice lawyer, Shankari chronicles the day-to-day of her family’s return on her blog.

What are your thoughts on TV and movie control? Is this a losing battle given the age of the iPad? How much exposure or insulation is too much exposure or insulation? Harry Potter  – cinematic masterpiece for children or maybe a little later?