This video was circulating a short while ago showing the emotional side of a 4-year-old boy who was told by his mother that the girl he likes is interested in another boy. Knowing that her son was going to get upset and over-exaggerate his feelings, as most 4-year-olds do, she filmed it. But then not only did she film it to show her husband, her friend or to watch again later for her own entertainment (if that’s what you would call watching a child cry) –she uploaded it to the internet.
Everyone seems to want their 15-seconds of fame. Remember when it was 15-minutes? Now it seems that any sort of recognition, good or bad could turn you into an overnight sensation. Look at David After Dentist, Rosie and Sophia or even Charlie Bit Me. All of these memorable YouTube funny videos started as parents videotaping their kids and then posting them to social media.
So, this got me thinking; not just about why parents are exposing their children as entertainment to the masses, but the content they’re sharing. This little boy’s meltdown about a girl was odd to me in a few ways.
- Why are these videos considered funny jokes? Is it funny and or entertaining to purposely make a child cry? Want the toy? Can’t have it. Well, okay, here you go – Nope! Basically, this mother is a bully.
- Why is a 4 year old boy concerned about a girl liking another boy? I get that at a young age we can formulate a fondness for someone, but to be able to relate the feelings of rejection at such a young age over a crush? Now, that’s heartbreaking.
This video, is just a few minutes long, but was on my mind for days, as I thought about my 4-year-old nephew. Now that he’s in Kindergarten he has met new friends; boys and girls. The other day my boyfriend heard him mention a little girl’s name and promptly asked him if she’s his girlfriend. He teased him about liking her, asked him if he thinks she’s cute and asked him why he likes her. Sure, it’s cute to see a child smile, blush and look away with shyness, but to refer to a new friend as his girlfriend? What is that teaching him?
Another incident was related to me the other day when I was talking with a friend who’s a mom to a 2-year-old. She told me that at a recent play-date with another mom of a girl the same age she heard a word that she didn’t think would or should be used to describe a toddler; sexy. Sexy girl. Talk about your oxymoron. Apparently, the girls were dressed up in their Disney Princess dresses, singing and dancing along to a pop song. The friend’s daughter began to shake her hips and wiggle her chest in a way that was simply far too mature for a 2-year-old, maybe courtesy of watching sexy videos of her favourite pop stars who knows. That girl’s mother asked, “Are you sexy So-and-so?”
My friend was shocked. Did she just ask her daughter if she thinks she’s sexy? Wow. Referring to a young girl as cute, adorable, beautiful, charming, smart, talented, courageous and sweet are fine in my books, but sexy girl; no way. Why would you want such a young child to know what that word means? Why would you want to encourage sexuality at the age of 2?
Children are growing up faster than ever, and why? Because parents, the media and society want them to. Gone are the days of Sharon, Lois and Bram (yes, I’ve just dated myself with this reference). Gone are the days of using their imagination; I don’t know a toddler who doesn’t know how to use an ipad better than me. Gone are the days of innocence. And I don’t mean that children aren’t innocent anymore, because they are, in many ways. But what are the consequences of posting photos and videos of them on social media without their permission or consent? Children are innocent because we make decisions for them. Has posting their moments online changed the way they learn and behave?
When I was a kid growing up in the early late 80’s and early 90’s, I had my photos in an album. An actual hard-cover album. I had crushes on boys and wrote about it in my personal diary. Not on my Facebook page or on Twitter. Social media marketing didn’t exist. The only time I dressed like a Disney Princess was on Halloween. The TV shows and music I listened to were monitored. The first song I ever heard with a curse word was a Green Day song in the 7th grade; I was 12.
Am I old-fashioned? Do I have a false perception of what the world is like, or should be like? Some might say so, but I’m a firm believer that children should have a childhood that is filled with things for children, not adults.
The period of life between infancy and puberty.
There are many times in a lifetime that the words boyfriend/girlfriend and sexy will be used. There will be many tears shed over love; young and old. But none of these times should be at such a young age like 2 and 4. And in no way should they be broadcasted for the world to see. Life is meant to be shared with those you love, not strangers.
Okay, I’m done ranting. But I have to know, do you agree with me? Do you think using the word sexy to refer to a child is inappropriate? Do you think using social media marketing and posting videos of children’s emotional meltdowns as funny jokes is acceptable?
About the Author:
Diane Morris is a PANK; Professional Aunt, No Kids and works for Mabel’s Labels as the Sales Coordinator. She’s an Aunt to two boys, and an “Auntie” to her boyfriend’s niece and nephew. She’s a sucker for romance, country music and peanut butter.