When the Media’s Messages are Just Mixed Signals

Some people have called this campaign brilliant, but I call it absurd. Why on earth is our government sending this hugely incorrect and very confusing media message to children? We are living in a time, thanks to cell phones and social media, where bullying has become a more serious issue than ever before. There are kids across this country who are taking their own lives every single day because they believe it is better to be gone than to endure one more day of bullying.

Cigarettes are not bullies. Cigarettes are addicting. Bullies are bullies. And if the government cannot even discern between the two, how can young audiences to understand it?

Last week my seven year-old and I were joking around, and after I said something silly he responded with, “That’s so gay.” Those words coming out of my sweet first-graders mouth were just shocking. When I began to explain why it is unacceptable to say that, he replied, “But I heard it on TV, Mom.” When that campaign first made the airwaves I suspected it would be too confusing for young audiences, and then it happened in our very own, very politically correct home.

So I wonder, are today’s young children going to become the generation who grew up on too many mixed messages? How will all the contradictions affect what lessons they take with them as they grow? Is the group who will have heard the most contradictory terms, or does this happen in every generation?

Strong girls should be assertive, not bossy. We want to raise strong boys, but we must not encourage them to be a man. Kids should be kind to others, but not so kind they might be deemed weak. A girl is good enough to make the boys’ team, but not if she expects to get much playing time. Boys can wear pink or play with dolls, but not if they want to fit in with the other kids. They must try their best, but everyone should get a trophy. Kids should not use too much technology, but they should log on to do their homework and ask Siri if they have any questions. All girls should think of themselves as beautiful, but only if they look beyond the definition of beautiful that is being set by the media. Kids should eat right and get plenty of exercise, and after that hour-long game they will be given sugary treats and juice.

It is enough to make an adult’s head explode. Just imagine what it must be like for the kids.

Sure, as a parent I would like my kids to grow up to be strong, kind, confident, independent, healthy, open-minded adults – and I am sure you want that for your children as well. And both of us are doing our best to instill those values in our children in our own way. After seeing that cigarette commercial I just could not help but wonder whether our kids are getting the point, or just getting more confused. Regardless, all these mixed messages are surely not making parents’ jobs any easier.

So, tell me. Do the media’s mixed signals concern you?


  1. ALL THE TIME. Actually, in raising 2 girls there’s one that REALLY bothers me: the pretty woman. And she is EVERYWHERE and getting PRETTIER all the time. It’s frustrating. The cop show with the cop in both high heels AND false lashes, not to mention a ton of makeup, chasing a perp down a back alley. Seriously?? The sexy-weather woman that you just KNOW everyone calls weather girl. The picture perfect newscaster, and she has to be even more gorgeous if she’s a sportscaster – now that’s an incredible disconnect. Men were all uptight about women in the locker room and now they have to be stunning?? Confound that with my own issues of needing to look good and I feel bad. How do my kids stand a chance? Sorry to go off on a tear, but this is a very troubling issue to me.

  2. Oh my. I never noticed the shear volume of mixed messages my kids get. I don’t even know how to answer their questions sometimes since I don’t know how to answer it accurately without confusing them more! What a journey we have as parents to walk them through these years full of questions!

  3. That trophy thing drives me nuts! In fact, as a Girl Scout leader I had a heated discussion with my coleaders about rewarding some of our girls with cookie booth badges. I had 4 badges to give out and I asked for names of the girls who went above and beyond while working a booth. One leader flipped out and thought everyone should get a badge. ARGH! Yes, the girls all worked hard, but the point was to recognize the girls that went the extra mile. I ended up giving the badges back to our service unit manager because of all the drama.

  4. I haven’t seen the commercial, do you have a link? Raising children today is Confusing as a parent so I can only imagine thet’s like for children. As a parent of boys I find it difficult to make them “get it” we had a similar situation with the comment “that’s so gay”. When explaining it to my son it was almost like he was not listening. Ugh!

  5. wow! I hear these all the time but never all together to make it so clear how confusing it is.

  6. Somewhere along the way we forgot that kids need, first and foremost, to just be kids. The mixed messages, constant pressure and the push to ban words does no one any good – especially our kids.

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