In a culture where children are regularly exposed to racy music lyrics, provocative clothing, violent video games and celebrity misbehavior, parents can't always prevent negative influences on their kids. Parents should do the best they can to speak with their children about images on television, the activities of their peers and their own expectations and rules. But remember: You can't control every circumstance that your child experiences.
With the ever-growing roster of reality television shows, people with limited talent and poor judgment can become popular figures. Many reality stars, along with many musical artists, actors and athletes, make questionable decisions, yet they are promoted and viewed as heroes by many young people. Whether gyrating on stage at a young age, cursing in song lyrics, abusing alcohol or mistreating others, many stars engage in activities that are inappropriate for minors. An ABC News report titled "Are Hollywood's Bad Girls a Bad Influence on Teens?" suggests that celebrity women might have an especially negative influence on teen girls.
Music can be another poor influence on children. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the negative themes in many songs can threaten the psychological growth and development of children, especially teenagers who are in the process of building identities. The heavy metal and hip-hop genres often glamorize drug use, suicide, violence or masochism.
Many parents are concerned that violent video games encourage violent behavior in children. In a PBS article titled "What Science Knows About Video Games and Violence," Brandon Keim raises the question: Is it possible, even likely, that so much vicarious slaughter ever bleeds into the psyches of at least some people who play these games?" When children have opportunities to earn points by causing virtual harm to other people or property, violence becomes appealing. ABC News reporter Joshua Gardner reminds us that while no link has been established between video games and real-world violence, incidents such as the 2012 Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school shooting suggest that it's possible young people might be influenced by the fantasy of violent crimes.
Today, parents are able to monitor the TV programs their children watch. However, TV can still be a negative influence on kids when parents forget, are absent or don't have time to take action. Watching TV takes time away from more beneficial activities such as playing outside, exploring and interacting with others, according to KidsHealth. Some TV can be healthy. For example, educational shows on children's networks can help improve reading skills or teach kids about animals. But other shows, especially those aimed at an older audience, may promote violence or early sexual behavior. Parents should pay close attention to the types of programs their children are drawn to, limit time in front of the TV and encourage other activities.