"Raising Trouble" is signing off for now, and wants to thank you for being such great readers. You must be the most courteous and intelligent in the blogosphere, to judge from the comments here and on Bitch's Facebook page. I've so much enjoyed my time as a guest blogger here.
But "Raising Trouble" also wants to comment on, and explain, a few omissions.
One, we didn't discuss TV much. That's because while the "Raising Trouble" author is the happy owner of a TV, she thinks young children should watch as little of it as possible. Even if the content is educational, and neither sexist nor racist. Indeed, the content of most TV for little kids (that is, programming rated TVG) is better in this respect than TV for older viewers -- with the best male/female balance of characters, also the highest proportion of non-white characters -- according to a study conducted by Annenberg for the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.
But your author doesn't care about the content. She'd rather her kid read a sexist book or play disturbingly masculine, violent pretend-games with his friends than watch an enlightened TV show like "Dora the Explorer," because TV is a passive and stupefying activity. It's well documented that when kids watch too much of it, they have social problems, language delays, and obesity-related illnesses. More obviously, they miss out on all the other fun stuff that kids enjoy doing. TV makes her mad for the same reason that school sometimes makes her mad: kids make such inspiring use of their time -- they compose original songs, make up stories, put on crazy outfits, fall in love with other kids -- and it often seems that the adult world is embroiled in a conspiracy to get them to waste it instead.
As a society we're becoming dumber, less literate, less creative and more egregiously lacking the critical thinking skills we need to solve the world's problems and challenge the creeps running this place. Anyone who teaches kids these days, no matter what the age level -- no matter how privileged the students -- complains that students can't pay attention and don't know how to read. "Raising Trouble" can't guarantee that turning off the TV will help make a smarter, more focused and more humane next generation, but it can't hurt. (And don't email me about how awesome you are even though your mom let you watch as much TV as you wanted back in the halcyon permissive 1970s when we all drank lighter fluid for breakfast as toddlers. Of course you are awesome.)
We also didn't discuss video games because the "Raising Trouble" author is even less open-minded about those. Interestingly, girls are now playing video games almost as much as boys. There's much to be said about gender in kids' TV and video games. But I'm not the best person to analyze it, just as the Amish probably shouldn't write about zippers.
One omission that "Raising Trouble" regrets is that of sex. Not as in biological sex, but the other kind (the fun kind). Kids wonder where babies come from, but their curiosity certainly doesn't stop there. This material is highly relevant to a blog on gender and culture, but I have to admit, I was a little scared to discuss it publicly. Children's sexuality is real, but you can get in big trouble for saying so; people assume that kids are "innocent" unless they're abused. That's asinine, but I know a couple who was prosecuted by local authorities for years after a Wal-Mart photo lab employee took issue with some snapshots of their young daughter playing in the tub. It's not always wise to underestimate the depth of American ignorance and paranoia on this subject.
Anyway, "Raising Trouble" is planning to address all these issues and more in the future, at Bitch and elsewhere! Stay tuned.