As I scrolled fast past the long posts, I noticed the alluring comments that followed. Despite, I choose not to scroll back in the moment to the article that generated all the commotion. Shortly after, I kept on getting a particular post from almost all my personal peeps. Curiosity got the better of me- I couldn’t ignore any longer. So I starred it for Saturday reading.
In recent times, that post gave me the rudest shock! It was just unimaginable… yes, the secondary school students that went on a rampage raping girls in broad day light!
What may be the root cause of this unprecedented menace? Who do we hold responsible- the boys? The girls? The school authority? Parents? The society? Media? Government? Who exactly?
It is saddening that we find ourselves in a society that frowns at this perplexing behavior and yet, winks at and celebrate the very acts that pave way for the craze which once depicted immorality!
Indeed, these things will happen because of the things we glorify in our society. Gone are the days when our musical artists composed songs like: “If you love me, you will wait for me”. Our modern artists are composing songs whose lyrics gratify underage, inappropriate, forceful, no-hold back intimacy, women nude bodies’ parade and quick money. What values are these sending to our future generation?
Let’s divert a bit to the educational system. It may (not) shock you that there is a text book for JS 1 students- children who fall between the ages of 9 and 13, authored by a Nigerian, on Religion and National Values where on page 50, the author’s discuss was on ways to give and receive sexual pleasure and develop closeness without sexual intercourse. The author goes on to highlight some nine points ranging from kissing through mutual masturbation to sharing intimate thoughts…again, in a textbook for JS 1 (Year 7) pupils. What is the national value, sex (maturation as I prefer) education and religiosity that is enshrined in this for this age group? Who approved such a book? How did it find itself into our schools? Again, these are questions which, like several, we may never get answers to.
Now, let’s narrow it down homewards. The uncertain economic times has contributed in creating a perfect storm of high-anxiety, slightly insane parenting. Our financial realities often dictate our domestic choices, and most parents are operating on instinct, just getting by…at the detriment of the future generation. In our bid for career and economic success, we are trading the happiness of our families. Sadly more often than not, we lose both!
For the sanity of our children’s future, we have to find useful ways to connect with them daily. If we assume that the barest minimum time that the average child spends with full presence with her parents daily is one hour- this is just about 4% of the available 24hrs. 60% of this time is spent correcting, criticizing and arguing. This leaves only 24mins each day for instruction of values, morals, ethics, attitudes and affection. But, in all honesty, how many homes do spend these 24minutes daily to give value-based parenting to their children? Most parents can’t even give 5minutes!
Are we still wondering why these kids have gone so bizarre? If the parents cannot spare/create the time, who will? Who should? I know- the media- yes! The media- with all its antecedent negative exposure, has turned to the No.1 influencer, teacher and role model of our children. With the media, there’s no hold back! All the things we dared not imagine prior to our marriages are showcased and paraded live on BBN! With parents out to fend for survival, who is caring about these things?
Thirteen is the new Eighteen (years of age). These days, these children have long before that age, discovered sexuality and are more confused than enlightened with the amount of sex without responsibility in media today. Be sexy– that seems to be the message being beamed at them. This is leading to the irresponsible sexual behavior that bound around us. So what can we do differently?
Exposure to media is a part of modern life. As parents, we have the responsibility to help our children make the right choices and make media a positive influence in their lives. We need to create bonding time as a family to discuss the pros and cons of media. We need to help our kids differentiate between reality and fantasy.
Monitoring our children’s choices does not mean we ban them from watching media. It is just making them aware of the negative influences, helping them identify what is worth spending time and what isn’t. We need to check movies, TV shows and games our children like. What exactly are they viewing? Who’s behind it? What is the motivation? How does it make them feel? What do they get from it? We need to encourage our children to express and listen to their feelings about various programs and media outlets.
Parental control is for a purpose. When you choose to block/ban some channels, apps, shows, games and websites you think are inappropriate for your child, explain why exactly you are doing so. TVs, video games, phones, iPads, iPods etc. need to also find their way out of their bedrooms.
Limit TV viewing to only 2-3hours every day (Personally, this is too much for me… I permit TV only on weekends…for those hours). Try to spend time together as a family doing other activities.
Provide opportunities for your children to learn about moral behavior. Surround your family with people who have good moral and spiritual values. When you are around people who are empty or negative, it can only drag you and your children down.
An idle mind is the devils workshop. Never leave children idle. Find activities, volunteer services etc. that they can key into. These provide them with ample opportunities to learn moral values, life skills and positively disperse energy as they grow.
Have open discussions with your children around their sexuality, opposite sex, life choices, the kind of future they envisage for themselves, who they are role-modeling, why they like a celebrity, what values of the celebrity/role model interest them and so on. Once you know what is interesting to your child, you can spot the pictures and messages that are influencing him and negotiate limits, guidance and rules around those.
These are just few tips on the influence of media on children that can help our families. But let’s not make media a scapegoat. Media will exist, whether we like it or not. What we can do as parents is to take the good it has to offer, avoid the bad and ugly by putting limits and boundaries and serving consequences to defaulters.
Let’s stop looking for solutions in the branches, and attack the root cause of our societal disorder. We are a people of culture, values and religion. When we throw those aside in the name of embracing liberalism, freedom and democracy, we can’t reap differently than we currently are.
If no man asks us, God will.
Yours in pursuit of a purposeful society,
Author & Family Life Coach
Realizing that families are the smallest essential unit of society, Suruurah works to create greater harmony and effectiveness in social systems through her revolutionary coaching approach that helps to transform the society through families.
Need a session for yourself, children, school, organisation or clients? You may contact Suruurah via: +234(0) 8032012783 . Email : firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com