THE TV watershed is all very well for younger kids – as are strict bedtimes – but what do you do about your older children watching things you don’t want them to?
I’m not necessarily talking about rude stuff – although sitting in the same room as your pre-and-teen sons watching rumpy is as excruciating as it was watching with my own parents. The slightest hint of an impending snog still sends my mother diving for the remote.
Anyone who was a kid when there were only three/four channels will remember how much easier it must have been for our parents. Many people I know weren’t allowed to watch ITV. The whole channel. There was a terrible snobbery about watching anything but the BBC.
We weren’t subjected to a complete commercial television ban, mainly because my parents have a Coronation Street addiction stretching back decades. #
So we got to see Saturday morning wrestling hosted by Dicky Davies, while many of our posher friends were left out of the loop.
Having a television in your bedroom wasn’t an issue. There was one telly in the house in the 1970s and 80s, and it was rented. My brother got the use of a portable black and white set when he was about 16, which we were only allowed to watch when ill.
Now we’re the parents, there are trillions of channels. We have three tellies, but none in the kids’ rooms. It’s hard enough to spend any time with them as it is. If they had TVs in their rooms they’d only see us at feeding time. Routine bedtimes would be impossible. If children have TVs in their rooms they will attempt to watch it, even/especially if you tell them not to.
In our house there are restrictions on children’s telly. Yes, even children’s telly.
Then there’s the X-Factor. Damn you ITV, you’re proving those 1970s parents right with your ‘reality’ programmes.
We watched one of the earlier series of the X-Factor together, I think it was the one where Leona Lewis won. But it is what it is: a load of sadistically entertaining guff.
Bloke opts out completely, he just thinks it’s exploitative rubbish. I usually avoid it until the final couple of live shows.
But the boys will set their watches by it, from the earliest audition to the tear-sodden final. Much like adults around the proverbial water-cooler, they know that the following day’s school conversations will involve why Cheryl should have chosen Gamu over stupid fame-hungry Katie, and how daft Storm looks/sounds/is.
I haven’t banned the X-Factor because I think the boys are at an age where they should be able to make up their own minds on whether someone is an idiot or not. I despair that they think the frighteningly thin, lollypop-headed Cher with her ridiculous false eyelashes is “alright.”
I take every opportunity to remind them not to give the show any emotional investment. I point out the dodgy showbiz connections and explaining the way they make their money is to con poor sap members of the public into actually giving enough of a toss to vote.
The X-Factor might be classic Saturday night entertainment, but don’t for a second think that it’s reality.