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Are You A Co-Watching Guardian?

It meant so much when my dad would sit down and watch Saturday morning cartoons with me as a kid. It made me feel like my taste in entertainment must be pretty good because a grown up was interested. Little did I know, he was also showing up to see what I was digesting visually. The repetition of witnessing his reactions to those shows and our time together taught me what might be "good" storytelling. It made such an impression on me. Young minds are so very impressionable.

Me and Dad

My dad was aggressive (aka passionate) about introducing me to different types of music. Growing up in Texas, I started down a path of only loving all things Country because that's what the neighbor kids loved, that's what I heard at the grocery store, the gas station etc. Then dad stepped in with people like Jimi Hendrix, Billie Holiday, Robert Johnson, Led Zepplin, Queen, David Bowie...the list goes on. On those car rides to and from school, he showed me the rainbow of music possibilities. Now, mind you, it was all Blues and Classic Rock but I eventually got to an age where I started to discover my own taste (which included hip hop. Not dad's cup of tea.) but these early years of seeing something different, were important. He helped widen my vision beyond what I was being fed by the world I was living in. He showed me the importance of looking around and tasting things.

Implicit bias is basically the unconscious associations we make when we see repeated messages about who’s on the upside of power and who’s on the downside of power,” she explains. “Our brain works really fast to fill in information for us. And those blanks, sometimes, are biased.” - clinical psychologist Allison Briscoe-Smith

Things to ask yourself when you are "Co-Watching"

  • Are they watching the world or just their world?

  • Is your young mind watching stereotypes or empowering types?

  • Is your young mind only watching shows where the lead character looks like them?

  • Are the characters truly diverse or is their just one token smart girl, one token Black kid that plays sports etc?

What does a guardian do when they realize a young mind is watching videos that represent one type of people? Now I don't think exclaiming "stop watching that" is the way. I think this is an opportunity to have a conversation that leads to critical thinking. That conversation could start with...

  • How does it make you feel when there is only one girl character and she always wears pink? Do all girls only like pink?

  • All of the characters in this show look like you and your family. Is that real life though?

These questions don't need to end with "and this is why we shouldn't watch this". Let them connect the dots. Young minds need to continue their critical thinking skills in order to be incredible, compassionate and genuinely empathetic humans! After enough conversations they will put two and two together and go "this does not serve me well anymore".

Allow for pause and keep it casual. These are not confrontations, these are conversations.

Learn more about "co-watching" (or co-viewing) from this National Geographic interview that inspired this blog entry.


Love and Kindness,

Amber Snyder

Creator of The Eclipse Show

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