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Posts tagged ‘anxious parents’

Too Young for “The Real World”

Being the strange child that I was, I didn’t spend all my television time watching Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. By fourth grade, I had moved on up to MTV. Gone were the days of All That and Dexter’s Laboratory; I was enthralled by the coolness of TRL and the drama of my perennial favorite, The Real World. The Real World is one of the first “reality” television shows, and it features “seven strangers, picked to live in a house, work together, and have their lives taped, to find out what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real.” It has been on the air since 1992, and recently finished its 26th season.  Like the parents described in Chudacoff’s “The Commercialization and Co-optation of Children’s Play”, my mother expressed concern over my new television obsession. Although she accepted the fact that she couldn’t keep me away from the show, she was worried about what kinds of adult themes I would be exposed to. I assured her that it would have no negative effects on my life, and truth be told, it didn’t. In fact, it may have contributed to my open mindedness and accepting nature that I have today. In the 11th season, Real World: Chicago, I first learned about homosexuality through Aneesa and Chris. In the 16th season, I explored Austin along with Johanna and Wes, and I learned about the depth of addiction through Nehemiah’s struggles with his mother. Yes, there were adult situations presented in the show, but the positive effects outweighed the negative. I think the parents and policy makers embodied by Chudacoff’s essay have children’s best interests at heart, but it would probably be best if they chilled out a little bit. My mom did, and I turned out wonderfully.

A clip from Real World: Chicago, where the castmates react to the news of 9/11

Sexy Simoleans

The first Sims game released in 2010

Growing up, I enjoyed playing video games that made me feel like I was watching a movie. That is, I appreciated games with a specific plot that allowed me to participate. The Sims is an interactive computer and video game that basically allows players to simulate daily activities of people in a suburban household. It was developed by Maxis for Windows in 2000 and cost about $60. The game has since been released on MAC, PlayStation, Xbox and GameCube.

To summarize the game is relatively simple. Players, first, get to design each member of the family. You choose their name, skin color, clothes, face, ect. You then spend time in “build mode” designing every detail of the home from size to wallpaper to windows. Once the structure is complete, the player enters “buy mode” and spends money purchasing furniture for the home. Finally, you can enter “live mode” where you essentially become the Sim. You control everything your character does including going to work, going to the bathroom, eating, and interacting with others. The characters also work on building skills such as reading and creativity as well as making sure their needs are met such as satiety and sleep. As the player, it is also your duty to maintain your finances and take care of children if you choose to have them. Many people would say that this sounds like a game that could teach children life skills but there has been some controversy involved with this game over the years. When the game was first released, it was not well censored.

Sims Trailer

When players develop relationships with each other, it is possible for that connection to progress into a sexual one. In the current version, when this occurs, the act is blurred out so nothing can be seen, However, in the original version, this censorship did not exist. There was also a recent “bug” that caused this suppression to fail. The culprit was likely one of the people who have been asking Google, “How do I take the censor off?” Apparently, there is a “Nude Patch” that players can download to be able to permit their Sims to bear it all (for whatever reason). Needless to say, this is the sort of loss of innocence in the common child is exactly what Stearns describes when he says, “…parents worried deeply, if not always effectively, about their degree of control over the entertainment their children received, and about the appropriateness of the entertainment offered.” (Course Packet p. 6)

“Players can allow public nudity, fondling of partners’ buttocks while kissing (both of the same and opposite sex), characters burning to death, and even polygamy (a male can marry numerous females, but a female can marry only one man). Could this game be teaching sexism?”

Appropriateness aside, The Sims continues to maintain popularity from girls and boys of all ages. The have since released multiple Sims continuation games including House Party, Unleashed, Hot Date, Vacation, and Superstar. The franchise has sold more than 100 million copies and I’m not ashamed to admit I am the face of 3 of those!

Bringing Up Baby

Tom Ashbrook’s show On Point challenges the notion that there are universals in parenting in last Tuesday’s episode, “Bringing Up Baby.” He interviewed Pamela Druckerman, author of Bringing up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting, and developmental psychologist, Jennifer Lansford.

The French focus on a balance between parenting and being adults. According to Druckerman, parents interfere less with their child’s experiences, believing that “kids and adults need space and privacy to cultivate their inner lives.”

Peter Stearns, in the chapter from Anxious Parents entitled “I’m Bored”, explains how much of modern American parenting is a response to children’s boredom and the guilt felt by parents to entertain them.

"It was so easy to think of food as a legitimate reward for being a child when a parent was too busy to offer more elaborate entertainments or felt guilty about not having enough time to spend." (p. 25) (click for source)

Druckerman’s discussion of children’s food made me reflect on my childhood. My poor mom must have had such a hard task pleasing my very picky sister and me. She likes to joke that always if one of us liked a meal, the other wouldn’t. Druckerman says that there are no kids foods in France. Kids inevitably won’t like every food they’re given, so parents just require them to taste the food. The American way, in contrast, is indulgence. Peter Stearns, in his book Anxious Parents, argues, “Tolerance of children’s eating habits… resulted from the real commitment to providing pleasure” (p. 25). In other words, eating is another way to entertain kids.

The perceived frailty of American children is discussed both by Druckerman and Stearn. Druckerman says that French children are more autonomous, and French parents are more comfortable setting boundaries.

Childrearing beliefs are strongly tied to the culture they are found in. I think Stearn’s observation of parents’ obsession with entertaining their children are reflected in our society’s own entertainment consumption habits among adults.


The pink, temperamental Pokémon character I identified with most as a child

As a child I wanted to do everything my brother did, including playing the video games, watching the TV show, collecting the cards and obsessing over the movies/stuffed animals/anything relative to Pokémon. I obviously was not interested in the “supposed different interest of girls and boys.” (Course packet page 69) It was a boy’s game that I did not openly admit to liking, however my parents never denied me the joy of playing. They actually were all for this considering my brother and I fought like cats and dogs. Our bond in Pokémon would temporarily control the madness and entertain both of us at the same time; they saw no problem with killing two birds with one stone. Like many parents they were concerned “about whether their children were being entertained enough.” (Course packet page 6)

“Pokémon was launched in Japan in 1996 and today is one of the most popular children’s entertainment properties in the world…” earning the second spot in top game franchises. Pokémon was originally intended to be a video game and therefore is affiliated with Nintendo, however it has spread into a plethora of products not necessarily centered around video games.

Their products range in price depending on what exactly you want; As far as games go, the Pokémon games for the Nintendo DS run a little under $40. Right now on Amazon a Pokémon videogame for a gaming consul costs almost $100.

"This one’s for the ladies in the house (or dudes if you’re into it, Pokébra judges no gender!), these adorable bras are custom made, meaning every boobie of every size can be successfully captured by this nerdiness. It’s a shame that during all his years on the air in prepubescent purgatory Ash was never old enough to touch a boob. I’m pretty sure a bra like this would have made his awkward teenage years more memorable."

When I decided to write about Pokémon I had a conversation with a friend about the topic. I was having trouble remembering the name of my favorite Pokémon character. I knew it was pink and temperamental; finally the name came to me, Jigglypuff! There are some ridiculous Pokémon products that have emerged and are for sale right now. These products include a Pokébra, Pokémon Jets, Pokéball Beret, Yellow Pikachu Lightning Nike Sneakers, PokéDex iPhone Case, Pikachu Boxers and more. I thought that it would be a difficult topic to write on since it had been so long since I had been a Pokémon fanatic. I was proven wrong with my first Google search. I have learned that although I eventually grew out of that awkward stage of my life, it seems as though others continue to dwell in this fantasy.