Let the V-Chip Do the Parenting

The famous Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson Superbowl halftime show played a hand in the future of control media technologies. After this incident, America was concerned about what images were being presented to their children on television. Large television networks were making it accessible to block and monitor what was occurring on the screen at home. The V-chip changed the way in which parents were “parenting”. They no longer had to sit and worry about what explicit shows, images or language was coming out of the television box, because now with the new chip, they were able to control it.

“Each instance of a control technology enabling choice and freedom is also an instance of the cultural importance of media being redefined and reconfigured as practices and processes of control” (29).

What does this say about the way in which media influences things that we participate in that were not once media oriented?  Is this a parenting cop-out? Parents do not have to “worry” and this gives parents the impression that they are inevitably in total control. This raises questions about content ratings. How do these ratings accurately translate back to the way a specific parent does their “parenting”? Explicit content is relative and control media technologies do not measure relativity or specificity. The v-chip does all the work for the parents. The v-chip “gives parents more information” in order to make “choices”. Apparently only 17 percent of the families that have this control technology actually use it, and only 50 percent are aware that it is available to them. In a sense, there is a false empowering taking place. Parents feel as if they have more power because they have the ability to control what their children are seeing “more directly”. This creates a sense of comfort and the companies have instilled a sense of trust within parents—their customers. By giving parents options, and more information, they have created loyal members of a media-control society.

Guins, Raiford. Technology and the Culture of Control. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2009. Print.

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