I found a well-written and interesting article about children's entertainment here. I've been doing some thinking about this recently as we are selecting my daughter's first books. Those of you who have young daughters especially, to what extent does the article hit on truth? And what have you found to allow your children to participate in their culture while still protecting them from harm?
Insipidness : very true, though I go further than the author. I won't settle for insipidness just because it teaches something good. After all, it will still teach insipdness (which is a crime against civilization, IMHO.) We're also trying to teach our children what classifies as art, what is good, what isn't. He's absolutely right about protecting small children from electronic media altogether - they don't need it. (As for Barney - one has to wonder what sort of end product the 'Yale researchers' are going for. I'm guessing more 'production units' for their fry pits and 'democracy spreading teams'?)
Brattiness : that is one much harder to escape from, I think. Most of the examples he gives are of media that was created for adult audiences. That some feed such material to their children probably has more to do with confusion over 'cartoons just being a kid's medium'. Its the same kind of idiot, I think, that would give their under-12 year old Dark Horse comics.
Princess-ness : he's spot on, and while its all pervasive - one can see the end product on shows like Bridezilla or My Super Sweet 16. If it is left unchecked, I think it will only lead to more megalomanic and psychopathic individuals running around. Sometimes, giving them a hero who milks goats for a living could prove a wise investment in their future character...
Stereo-typing : yes, I think he is right. My wife isn't so worried about it, as she believes that those stereotyped images in past media aren't reinforced in the society around us, so that modern children aren't even likely to realize what those past images are portraying or implying. There has to be an active context in the society around them, or someone specifically teaching the kids to be be insensitive or bigots. My perspective, however, is a little different - I think images are so fundamental to human thought, that insensitive images become a 'ticking time bomb' - at some point in the future, a connection will be made (consciously, or worse - unconsciously). If that connection is there between living people and derogatory images, then action is likely also to be taken. I'm particularly concerned about stereo-typical images connected with some of the other '7 sins' he lists: such as violence. In such a case, trauma (such as over-exposure to violence) could then be linked with stereotypical images of 'people who don't look like us'. I imagine just such a process is what has contributed to continued cycles of violence.
Violence : I agree with Gerard Jones more than the author - as does my wife. She has noted that sexual differences in the brain predispose male children to aggressive behavior. She has examples of researchers who tried to raise their male children as 'pacifist' and 'demasculinized'; only to have those same children play-fighting with Raggedy Anne as a makeshift weapon. With toy guns, I think it is important to engage in play with children using toy guns - to learn fundamental rules : don't point your gun at people, etc. Having children of both sexes, I know at a certain age, our unsocialized male toddler decided he now wanted to wrestle: everything. It came out of a good children's program that he is now addicted to. One character (with which he shares a name) is depicted as quite cantankerous on the show. He picked up the attitude from the character, and started acting 'grumpy' and wanting to 'fight'. Contrary to the advice of some folk, I engaged him in the 'fight', and gently put him in a submissive position with the statement "I win". My purpose for doing so was borne out - now, if asked, "Do you want to fight?" his answer is "No, its not nice." (Pointing out, it was done only in the context of his aggression - otherwise, he would have learned a false lesson - to cave in to force. Rather, we reinforce the notion to respect authority, but resist force.) However, graphic images of violence occurring to characters which a child is likely to empathize with: that will produce trauma! Better to wait for that later (like, after they've dealt with deaths in the family, etc.)
Vulgarity and Sluttiness : I agree with the author on every point. My children have been reinforced with realistic body image, morals (rather than moralism), and a sense of propriety normative for our society. We never had to teach them 'Bratz are bad'. Strangely enough, we went to a public event, and my 6 year old daughter was given a 'Bratz'. Her reaction was to break out in tears - "Take it away! I'm not supposed to have this, its a bad toy!" Of course, its still the reaction of a child (it takes awhile to teach manners), but the point is - we never told her 'Bratz are bad, you aren't supposed to have them'. She simply responded to the disharmonious object which ran contrary to goodness.
I'm surprised he didn't have another commandment for 'Group Think', herd behavior... another thing I don't like (particularly about Barney), is that I think it predisposes children to a certain type of thought (or non-thought) that makes them particularly vulnerable throughout life to cults, thought control, political manipulation and peer pressure. Part of our goals are to develop independent thought in our children, and ability to reason, and ability to say no.