Podcasts: Raising children in a hyper sexualized culture.

 Raising children in a hypersexualized culture: a mother and father share their thoughts and concerns.

Hypersexuality is everywhere we look: television, music, magazines, social media, shopping malls, and even children’s toys. In this podcast, I discuss raising children in a hypersexualized culture with two guests, and share insights and advice.

Two parentsa father living in Massachusetts and a mother living in Texasshare their thoughts and concerns of raising their children in a hypersexualized culture. These parents discuss the impact desentization and the normalization of hypersexuality have had on their parenting. Parental concerns range from shopping and clothing, peer engagements, video games, to sex education policies in schools. These parents also stress the importance of intervention, awareness, and involvement in their children’s life.

Children are the most vulnerable members of society and seek answers wherever they can find them. Many school systems have yet to catch up with our increasingly sexualized culture. Sex education curriculums are lagging behind as adolescents are continually exposed to hypersexualized content. One mother shares her concerns with policies in her own school district and discusses the changes her district so desperately need.

The hypersexualization of our culture shows no signs of declining and the need for parents to intervene is climbing. Parents must recognize the crucial role they play in providing their children with a foundation of beliefs and understanding. If not, children will seek education, understanding, and morals from the pervasive culture surrounding them.

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Sexualization of Girls, its Effects and Parental Role

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In the weekly podcast Authentic Moments, parent educator and podcast host Anna Seewald shares inspiring and insightful conversations with experts, authors, and teachers to support parents in their parenthood journeys.

After listening to many episodes of Seewald’s podcast, I was drawn to the “Sexualization of Girls, its Effects and Parenting Role” episode of Authentic Moments. In this episode, host Anna Seewald interviews guest Kristina Grum. Grum has been working with children for over ten years as a parent educator. With both Grum and Seewald holding expertise in parent education, I was expecting thoughtful insights and recommendations I could employ in my own teaching moments with parents. Unfortunately, this episode failed to offer the in-depth knowledge I anticipated.

The description of this episode states that it will “talk about sexualization/objectification of girls, explicit content in the media and pop culture and its effects on young children: body image, self esteem, values, and more”. In actuality, the episode very minimally fulfills what is promised in the description.

The episode opens with Seewald asking Grum why she was angered and disturbed by a commercial she saw while watching the Olympics with her husband and three children. Grum describes the commercial as “suggestive”, “soft porn”, and “sexualizing women”. I found myself attentive and intrigued as she describes the commercial. Unfortunately, that’s as far as Grum goes. The discussion fails to dive deeper into the significance, impact and meaning-making of the commercial. Moreover, Seewald failed to provoke Grum into a deeper conversation.

As a listener I grew tired of the inconsistent flow and lack of organization in this podcast. I felt as though Grum wasted time with drawn out, disorganized responses that ultimately circumvented the promised conversation throughout the episode. Seewald appeared to make little effort in asking meaningful follow up questions or re-directing her guest. The episode felt scripted with pre-developed interview questions and talking points that lacked cohesion with Grum’s responses. I waited for Seewald to dive deeper into the subject matter and make the connections I did, but was left without new insights on this important topic.

Grum does eventually articulate some valid and poignant points when asking “who is responsible?” She questions who actually holds responsibility for exposing inappropriate sexualized content to children: parents, television networks, commercial advertisements? As a listener, I am once again frustrated as neither Grum nor Seewald dive any deeper than initial queries.

Unlike previous episodes of Authentic Moments, this seemed less conversational and more akin to a typical interview. Seewald’s questions seemed to follow a script as opposed to following up on Grum’s talking points. This frequent lack of true follow up questions and connections—all of which I anticipated—added to my frustration while listening to the 40-minute episode.

As the episode came to a conclusion, I felt disappointed with the minimal knowledge and insight provided. I felt as though the lack of useful insights minimized the severity of the topic. Busy parents who spend 40 minutes of their time on this podcast will be left with more questions than answers. If you are considering this podcast for guidance, support, and understanding, I wouldn’t recommend it.

The Sexualization of Young Girls in the Media. 

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Dr. Vivian Vasquez’s podcast Critical Literacy In Practice Podcast, podcast host and scholar Dr. Vivian Vasquez broadcasts on the important topic of critical literacy as it is practiced and talked about in varied spaces and places across the world.

It is clear throughout the 2007 episode,”The Sexualization of Young Girls in the Media”, that guest Nathan Havner is passionate about disseminating knowledge on the sexualization of young girls and speaks on the impact it has in his personal life as a father and teacher, and how it affects children growing up in today’s society. The opening scene of this podcast immediately conveys thought-provoking insight to a  couple’s breakfast conversation on body image, laying a foundation in understanding the prevalence of issues young girls face and now more than ever.

Havner makes it clear to the audience that he is more than a teacher, he is the father of a young girl. Despite his daughter being two years old, he is already fearful of the impact child sexualization will have on her. Havner’s voice and choice of words demonstrates a sincere fear as he worries about the impact this exposure will have on his daughter.

This podcast is concise and direct. Dr. Vasquez and guest Nathan Havner get straight to the point and provide education, insight, reality, and raise thought provoking and valid questions for listeners to think about. This episode of Critical Literacy In Practice Podcast podcast has a clear direction and leaves plenty of room for future discussion of this pressing issue among parents, teachers, clinicians, health care providers, and members of society interested in understanding the impact of child sexualization

Is your child overexposed to sex?

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The BAM  Radio Network’s Clue:Your Kids, Sex and Sexuality-Quick Tips for Parents podcast seeks to aid parents as they help children navigate the sexual minefield of today’s media-saturated environment. This program provides practical, credible, actionable clues to help parents succeed in their duties as children are bombarded with sexual imagery and messages.

In the 2010 episode, “Is  your child overexposed to sex?”, Dr. Walsh discusses how early exposure to sexual imagery might affect children once they are in their thirties or forties and other concerns of overexposure.

Dr. Walsh begins by stating, “The brain gets good at what we spend a lot of time doing. The more we do, the better we get- also true for norms, beliefs, attitudes”. It is Dr. Walsh’s recommendation that school-aged children receive no more than two hours of entertainment media per day. This Clue episode teaches parents the valuable lesson of listening to children as opposed to lecturing. Ongoing conversations are more meaningful than singular lectures.

Today’s children are getting increasingly large amount of information from the media in addition to classic information dispensers such as peers, educators, and their own parents. It is important for parents to have many meaningful conversations about sex and sexuality with their children to offset and redirect the information children absorb from the media.

Dr. Walsh asserts that Hollywood determines and reinforces the sexual values and norms of today’s children and parents need to do everything in their power to reclaim sexual education. Adults need to monitor all forms of media consumed by children including the television they watch and the video games they play. She asks, “Why in United States do we have the highest rate of sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy? ” and states that, “we need to understand that all media is educational and we have to understand what it is teaching”.

This podcast exposes the fast growing epidemic of early overexposure to sexual messages and imagery and provides parents with tools to carry out crucial conversations with their children.

These discussions provide insight to the reality of how messages can be interpreted by youth, and the effects of unhealthy messages and misinformation. Dr. Walsh raises important and poignant questions throughout this episode including the following query: if parents are silent, and not proactive, how will children develop an understanding of their sexual world to make healthy decisions?

Dr. Walsh and the team at BAM Radio Network bring many concerns and implications of today’s sex-charged media environment to the forefront for members of the Clue audience. Sex is all around us and provides ongoing opportunities for open discussion; however, if children and youth aren’t involved in discussion with appropriate individuals, what affect do these conversations and messages really have?

This podcast not only sheds light on the fast growing epidemic of sexual messages and imagery that todays children are exposed to. Additionally, it provides parents with the tools to help  navigate conversation about sexuality proving insight, education, and practical suggestions.

Discussions provide insight to the reality of how messages can be interpreted to youth, and the affects of unhealthy messages and how misinformation can be utilized. If parents are silent, and not proactive, how then will children develop values and understanding about their sexual world to make healthy decisions.

Sex is everywhere, providing ongoing opportunities for open discussion; however, if children and youth aren’t involved in discussion with appropriate individuals, what affect do these conversations and messages received really have?

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