independent

Friday 31 October 2014

Kids will uncover the dark side, eventually

SHEA TOMKINS

Published 28/02/2012 | 09:24

FOR A parent, one of the most heartbreaking eventualities of life must be watching the steady demise of a child's innocence. I suppose it is why so many of us become protective to a fault.

The truth is that it doesn't matter how long we keep them wrapped up in cotton wool, or steer them away from the graffiti in the playground, or tell them to look the other way when a grown man is piddling in a bush, time has every intention of exposing them to the more disturbing side of this existence. We can, however, take solace in the fact that we have all been exposed to it, and for the most part we have turned out alright.

Hopefully, they will too. Last week, a cinema owner in South London felt the brunt of parental rage when a trailer for a 15rated horror film was mistakenly shown to a group of young children, who had paid in to watch the childfriendly Puss in Boots. Kids as young as four were left petrified as a twominute trailer for exorcism flick The Devil Inside, flashed before their eyes. A horrifying close-up of a woman possessed by a demon appeared on the screen with the tag line 'No Soul is Safe'. I imagine there were a few bedroom lights left burning that night.

It got me thinking about the young lad, and the younger lad, and what passes before their eyes when we are not in the room, and they are left watching TV. Although we monitor what programmes they watch, we have no idea what advertisements are being shown during the commercial breaks. We simply trust the station controllers.

The other evening I powered up a Cbeebies game on the laptop and left the young lad playing it. After a few minutes the good woman went in to check up on him, and within seconds my name was called. I walked in to find her laughing, and him about to close the deal on buying a pair of ruby slippers from a Wizard of Oz memorabilia site. 'How did you get on to that?' I asked him. He smiled up at me and those innocent eyes sparkled. 'I have no idea,' he said. Thankfully it was just an online shopping site for kids' stuff, and nothing of an adult nature.

A parent told me recently that he has concerns over his little girl watching the Winx Club, as apparently it involves a group of girls with super powers that allow them to tighten their tops and shorten their skirts. All her young friends love it, but he, understandably, finds it inappropriate.

All this has made us realise that down the line the kids are going to discover things that we would prefer they didn't. There are swear words they are going to hear in the playground (or when the good woman is trying to parallel park); they will witness fighting scenes, and gestures of affection between dating couples, the more that they hang about in public. It is up to us to have answers to the awkward questions when they eventually come our way. Life is all about progression, and there is only so much monitoring we can do. Though it would be nice if they could get past the Confirmation age without asking who that ravenhaired woman on the telly is, climbing out of the well.

JEDWARD OFF TO EUROPE AGAIN

Should RTE have decided to experiment before last Friday night's Eurosong competition, then they might have asked the fifth competitor (Jedward) not to actually perform, just to see if popularity alone would have been enough to get them voted through. Such is the guarantee that our young will continue to support them in their droves, they would probably still have won.

Similarly to last year, Jedward were given the final performing slot, the one most likely to have maximum impact on voters before the lines were officially opened. From my perch on the sitting room sofa, the result was a foregone conclusion.

Donna Mccaul's song was catchy, Andrew Mann had a fine voice, and the remaining two entries while entertaining, were never going to win.

Jedward are a hard act to upstage, and there was never much fear of any of these rivals doing so.

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