Imitation and role playing are fun and exciting ways for children to learn and exercise their imaginations, and to explore the always-expanding world around them. Children pull their ideas of right and wrong, good and bad, and all other views about the world from various sources, like parents, siblings, teachers, movies, television, and music. The things children view in popular entertainment may not be what parents consider “good” or “wholesome,” but they are just another way of looking at the world, and the realities within that world.
Children shouldn’t be shielded too much from any ideas, negative or not, because even negative ideas are still a part of reality. The reason why many people don’t believe in the practice of censorship, especially for adults, is because it is a blatant violation of our First Amendment right to freedom of speech, or freedom to openly express our ideas, feelings, and opinions. This is a right that should be extended to all Americans, even children.
Of course, parents play an important role in their children’s lives helping to form values and morals, and parents should always openly discuss such important issues with their children as soon as they are old enough to understand the basic principles, but shielding children from reality is never the answer. Being exposed to different ideas and views, children can process that information, talk about their observations with their parents, or sometimes their friends, and then form their own opinions.
This process helps each child to shape his or her personality, values, and beliefs. Kids need to feel in control of something in their lives. From an early age, most children are told what they can do, what they cannot do, where to go, and how to act. Parents, teachers, and society all seem bent on controlling children and their development in one way or another. Letting them see and experience and uncensored variety of information is a way to let them learn to think for themselves, and using this information in games involving imitation and role-playing helps to empower children and teaches them confidence in their own abilities to cope with adversity. What is important is not what the child is exposed to, but what opinion or feeling they form about it, which is why guidance and discussion from parents is important.
According to author Marjorie Heins, all too often, people in favor of various forms of censorship use the “protection of children” argument to actually further their own political, social, religious, or moral viewpoint, when really it has never been proven one or way or the other whether censorship is important for children in their intellectual and social growth. Learning from and using information from all types of sources helps children to have a broader perspective. Overall, I believe that censoring information that children can take in and use to fuel their imagination and development is more harmful than helpful.
Heins, Marjorie. Not in Front of the Children, “Indecency,” Censorship, and the Innocence of Youth. New York: Hill and Wang, 2001. http://www.squidoo.com