[quote="HerrZJA, post:1, topic:243387"]
How much should we censor what our children are exposed to?
This depends on so many factors that it’s really difficult to list and discuss each one. The important considerations are the chronological age of the children, their maturity levels, and the value system the parents have put in place for the family.
Our daughters are ten and are fairly mature for their age, the younger twin more so than her highborn sister. Before they started school, which means until they were five, they were not exposed to televised media or commercial advertising at all except for what they heard on the radio and encountered in the supermarket and on the street. Netflix and the Internet were off when they were awake. We didn’t take them shopping for anything except for shoes, which they had to try on for fit, and groceries. Their grandparents turned off their television and laptops when they babysat the girls.
Some people thought we went overboard, but we stand by our conviction that we didn’t want our kids bombarded with “get your parents to buy you our new, cool toys!” messages. Nor did we want their brains to have to cope with the frenetic imagery and actions that’s in so much television programming aimed at kids. Most importantly, we were old when they were born; we knew they were going to be our only shot at parenthood, and we just wanted to spend as much time with their baby and childhood selves before they grew up. Time they spent in front of the tube was time we weren’t doing stuff as a family.
When they started school we knew they were going to enter the realm of marketers, and that’s when we instilled our money saving mentality on them. It was rather ham handed, but we basically told them that advertising was aimed at getting them to spend money, and we think it’s important to keep our money rather than give it to a company. Our catchphrase was “We’re people of the savings, not people of the spendings.” I think they got it because they rarely bugged us to buy them stuff. They occasionally ask to be taken to see a movie, and there was one infamous Christmas when they asked for $400 dolls, but we can take them to a store and not have them beg and whine to be taken to the toy isle.
When they were in third grade they got our old Macbooks, but they’re only allowed to use them in the living room or at the dining room table when there’s an adult nearby. In fact, the they're stored on a bookshelf in the living room. Their dad’s more the web surfer with them than I am. There’s a gaming site for tweens they like to visit, and their dad takes them to all manner of science and technology sites. They also use them for school work, obviously. We’ve not put filtering software on them because we haven’t had a need to yet. If we find we need to then we will.
We’ve also never really filtered what they read except in the broadest terms, i.e., no Struwwelpeter, no Stephen King, etc. We’ve been reading to them since they were en utero, we read a bazillion picture books and pop-up books, and when they were about six we introduced them to children’s novels, starting with the Harry Potter series. We’ve read a several dozen children’s books as a family. The caveat is that we always, always have a discussion about the plot right after we finish reading each day to give the girls a chance to have their questions answered.
And now that they’re older we keep an eye on the books they’re choosing. We’ve never found anything objectionable, but neither my husband nor I insist they read a certain genres or books that have certain plot traits. So far they’ve not chosen anything wildly inappropriate, although they have tried to plow their way through science and history books that were too complicated for them to really understand.
[quote="HerrZJA, post:1, topic:243387"]
What do you think? What's a good age to let your kid "wander where they may"? How much freedom is too much?
There's really no one-size-fits-all answer to this one, either. It truly depends on the kid and your value system. Intellectually we want our daughters to have a rich and vibrant life of the mind, so we really don't put too many restrictions on what they read, what we talk about, or what they discuss amongst themselves.
Socially, yeah, we're a little stricter than that. One of our neighbors lets her 12-year-old daughter have a "boyfriend," and we've decided we're not going down that road. (But who knows what we're going to do when one of them tells us she's "in love" in two years. Probably try to lock her in a broom closet for five years. :p)
Believe it or not, however, kids want limits and structure in their lives. This much I know. They may grumble about it and try to test the boudaries, but kids who go completely off the rails as adolescents generally do so because they want someone - preferably a parent - to push back and tell them, "No, you can't do that, but you can do X or Y instead." You know, boundaries.