Spelling freedom for children
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Niken Suryatmini, 42, a mother of two, says that the vast flow of information has been a test of wisdom and patience.
Niken, whose husband decided the family home would not have a television after their first child was born 12 years ago, said that sinetron (local soap opera) is what she worries about most.
“We don’t have a TV at home. So, when my children visited their grandparents and were exposed to sinetron, it was a big challenge,” she told The Jakarta Post recently.
Niken said the story line of the sinetron was about a high school student beating up bad guys.
“Right after watching that episode, my son, the little one, said, ‘Mom, I also want to beat up a guy when I’m in high school’,” she said, adding that her son thought everything on TV was a good example.
She said her son also stumbled upon pornography when searching for fighter planes on the Internet.
“He was looking for information about fighter planes on the Internet. It turned out that with the keyword ‘pesawat tempur’ [fighter planes], a sex video was among the results — and he saw a quite graphic scene.”
Although books are among the sources of knowledge, Dyah Pratitasari, 30, said that she was not aware of any inappropriate content in a book until daughter Velma, 7, asked how horrifying hell could be.
“One day, we received a box of old books from my uncle. One of them was a comic book, which seemed to have a religious them about heaven and hell. So I assumed it was OK.
“But after Velma read the comic book, she asked me how terrible hell was. On the contrary, I always teach her about God, our religion, in a positive way,” she said, adding that afterward she became more wary of children’s books.
Boby Guntarto, co-founder of Children’s Media Development Foundation (YPMA), said that in line with developments in technology, adults faced more complicated issues regarding children.
“The technology allows young people to access and use the Internet in the easiest and cheapest way. By not yet having a solid consensus to regulate the Internet, these young people, out of curiosity, have consumed things that aren’t designed for them,” he said.
Despite the Internet, Boby believes that TV still holds the most control over children.
In 2006, Boby said, 85 percent of TV program content was unsuitable for children.
“Fortunately, the figure has decreased now. We found that TV programs in the ‘red’ category for kids are now at 40 percent,” explained Boby, whose foundation initiated the No TV Day nationwide campaign in 2009.