Finally, a music channel I can happily have on at home without the risk of my children feeling the need to start twerking, swearing, simulating gang violence or indeed all of the above. I’ve never fancied myself as a Mary Whitehouse type but having children has seriously done something to me. Before kids, the sight of Rihanna writhing around half-naked or Miley Cyrus getting jiggy with a Wrecking Ball was all a bit ‘meh’. Not for me, but each to their own. I didn’t bat an eyelid.
But now, I am honestly horrified.
Literally, the second my first son was born. Boom! I was like a one woman filtering machine, frantically clearing all devices of anything remotely inappropriate for little eyes and ears. Expletive lyrics on the iPod? Gone. Sky’s parental controls? On. Even the other-half didn’t escape. Bleary-eyed and digging deep to put in the night shift with baby, even he was banned from playing Call of Duty on the Xbox for fear of polluting our newborn’s tiny mind with all that gunfire and aggression.
And I’ve got so many parental filters on the home computer I can’t even browse the John Lewis website without keying in a password. So it is quite literally music to my ears to hear that U Music TV has been created, specifically with the under-12s in mind. No sex, no violence, no bad language, just good old fashioned pop music that doesn’t need to be monitored by parents every minute of the day. It means I can leave my little ones dancing happily in front of the TV for five minutes without fear of them being corrupted in the time it takes me to put a wash on, check the dinner or scoff a chocolate biscuit (something else I hide from the kids but that’s a different story).
My kids love music. They love to dance. But what they really need is to spread their musical horizons beyond a carefully vetted ‘Best of the 90s’ playlist that their mum has on a loop in the kitchen. So in our house at least, U Music TV is nothing short of a revolution. Instead of changing the channels in a frenzied panic the minute I glimpse anything that looks remotely like naked flesh, I can now switch on the music videos knowing that there is no risk of a pesky sex scene popping up to spoil things.
So thanks U Music TV. Everyone’s happy. My kids are protected, they’re finally aware of music other than the James back catalogue and you have just earned me some serious cool points. Perfect.
Now where did I leave those biscuits?
Over the last few years a passionate debate about the content of music videos has blazed in the press and in our homes. Artists such as Miley Cyrus and Rihanna have released music videos that are so provocative that the government are now introducing an age-rating system to warn parents about explicit content. However, are we turning into a nanny state, or are these videos having a profoundly negative impact on our children?
Prominent feminists and campaigners for children have argued that raunchy content of music videos is contributing to an early over-sexualisation of young people, and girls in particular. Videos of women wearing very little, and often in extreme sexual poses, can damage the way our daughters view themselves. 75% of parents with daughters surveyed by Netmums* said that very sexual pop acts were teaching girls that they would be judged on their looks, not their achievements or personality.Do these videos imply that being sexual and beautiful is more important than academic success and aspiring to a successful career?
And its not just girls that are affected. Despite our schools teaching children equality and breaking down gender stereotypes, 50% of parents of sons were frightened that explicit footage made them believe women were too sexually available. Are music videos encouraging our sons to develop sexist tendencies?
And what about the language used? Expletives, inappropriate vocabulary and slang can all have an adverse effect on the development of a childs vocabulary. As parents we wouldn’t dream of allowing our children to read books filled with swear words, so why would we let children hear them through music videos?
We need to send an important message to music companies and artists about what kind of material is appropriate for younger audiences in the hope that it results in them producing material aimed specifically at under 12s. We need to protect our children from being exposed to damaging, stereotypical and inappropriate images and language during this crucial, formative period of their education whilst allowing them to enjoy music videos and popular culture.
*Netmums survey (November 2013) of 1500 parents.
Do you agree? Let us know what you think by commenting below!