Tuned In

Parents to Congress: Let Us Decide What Our Kids Watch

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As much time as I spend on this blog ranting about government regulation of TV content, I haven’t given much publicity to TV Watch, a group advocating for parents who want themselves, not the government, to decide what’s appropriate for their kids to watch. [Update: The group is supported by television networks, who make up some of the coalition’s members.] So I’m doing it now. The group, which focuses on educating parents about using information and technology to protect their own kids, has released a study that shows that 87 percent of parents believe that their oversight of the TV, and not further regulation, is in the best interest of their kids. Among the other findings:

* 73 percent of parents monitor what their children watch, including 87 percent of parents whose children are ages 0-10.
* 69 percent of parents were aware prior to the survey that all new televisions 13 inches or larger contained a V-Chip.
* Sexual Situations/Themes/Jokes/Innuendos are the single most important reason parents would change the channel during a show their child was watching.
* 83 percent of parents are satisfied with the effectiveness of the V-Chip and other blocking tools.

It’s the sort of study that deserves attention. Kind of. It’s also, kind of, the sort of study that should be ignored–just as is the Kaiser Foundation study, earlier this month, which reported that 2/3 of parents would support further government regulation of TV content (though it didn’t specify what those regulations would be). The discrepancies only tell me that polls from groups with different motivations can find different results.

But more important: even though I’m a parent, I’m tired of press coverage that equates “what parents want” with “what Americans want.” News flash: most Americans are not the parents of kids under 18. Most American households do not have children under 18 in them. It may be suicide for any politician to say this, but there is no good reason that, in a democracy, a minority should get to dictate the choices of a majority–if they even want to dictate those choices–just because they have dependents.

Part of what parenting involves is recognizing that the world doesn’t revolve around you. That goes for the political world too.