Reality Shows "Better" For Kids

A new study finds that reality shows are among the cleanest options on television for children, considering that many scripted shows contain high levels of sex, violence, and profanity these days.

The Parents Television Council analyzed twenty of the most popular prime-time broadcast shows among children ages 2-17 according to rankings by Nielsen Media Research and determined that reality shows may be the least offensive.

"Every single scripted show that children watch is characterized by graphic sexual content, violence, and coarse language," L. Brent Bozell, president of the PTC, said in a news release October 31. "Parents must be more concerned about what their children are watching. In addition, parents need to be wary about innocent-sounding television shows, such as Family Guy or American Dad. They are among the worst when it comes to pushing the limits of decency with heavy sexual innuendo, sexual themes, and coarse language."

PTC labeled six of the top twenty shows "most suitable": Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, NBC Sunday Night Football, Deal or No Deal, American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, and American Inventor. The shows ranked "questionably suitable" are So You Think You Can Dance, The Simpsons, America's Got Talent, Biggest Loser, and Survivor. The "not suitable" shows are Lost, House, The War at Home, Grey's Anatomy, Prison Break, American Dad, Family Guy, Desperate Housewives, and CSI.

PTC said its rankings are based on the frequency and explicitness of foul language, sexual content, and violence present in each series along with consideration of time slot, target audience, themes, and plotlines.

Bozell noted that children tend to want to watch shows with positive values and wholesome content like Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and American Idol.

"Even though there are few choices for families, many children are watching more age-appropriate shows," Bozell said. "This contradicts the prevailing industry attitude that programming has to push the limits of gratuitous content to attract an audience. If the television industry offered more family-friendly television programs, it is likely that children would watch."

On the other hand, The New York Times October 29 published an article about former reality show stars who claim producers got them to open up for the camera by providing them with a supply of liquor before tapings.

Producers and network representatives told The Times that social drinking is a fixture of modern life, especially among young adults, so depicting alcohol consumption is an essential part of some reality shows. They also say contestants have the ability to refuse alcohol.

Baptist Press



Moral Stewardship

Messengers to the Missouri Baptist Convention approved a resolution in November encouraging Missouri Baptist church members to exercise moral stewardship regarding the businesses they patronize, keeping in mind that Wal-Mart in August asked and received permission to join the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, pledging to give them $25,000 annually and helping to "advance diversity," or homosexuality.

Baptist Press

Editor's Note: What better time to send a message to Wal-Mart than during this shopping season?



Abstinence Shifts Toward Young Adults

Unmarried adults up to age 29 now may be included in abstinence programs sponsored by the federal government under revised grant guidelines for the coming year.

The revision for Title V, a $50 million program, is directed toward 19- to 29-year-olds because more women in that age group are having children out of wedlock, according to Wade Horn, assistant secretary for children and families at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

"The message is 'It's better to wait until you're married to bear or father children,'" Horn said, according to USA Today October 31. "The only 100 percent effective way of getting there is abstinence."

States now can use their federal grants for abstinence education to target people in an age range from 12 to 29 years old, rather than just teenagers, according to the revision.

Baptist Press

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