Our five year old, Preston, has gotten into Star Wars, Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers this year. Our older two boys, ages nine and seven, never got "into" these shows, but for whatever reason, Preston became obsessed with them. We really didn't have a problem with this. My husband and I both LOVED Star Wars when we were kids, in fact.
It wasn't until recently that we started to see a change in Preston, however. It started with his light saber that he got for Christmas. He would sit and watch his favorite Star Wars movie while holding onto it or put his light saber beside him as he played his Star Wars game on Xbox. It was actually cute at first.
Before we knew it though, he was chasing his little sister around the house waving his light saber around yelling, "I'm going to cut your head off and then your arms and legs!"
It got worse as he watched the Power Rangers fight or the Ninja Turtles karate chop their way though an episode. Preston started hitting and fighting all of us.
He and his little sister have always fought, but this was different. He was showing aggression that we hadn't seen in any of the kids before.
We ended up taking his light saber, video game and movies away and only let him watch TV if it was "Little Bear", "Franklin" or "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" because - well - he's five.
It reminded me of a study that I learned about in a child psychology class called the "Bobo Doll Experiment". In a nutshell, a number of kids were divided into three groups. One watched a series of aggressive behavior towards a blow up punching bag type doll named "Bobo" while another group watched non-aggressive behavior towards the doll. The third group was a control group with no exposure whatsoever.
The results indicated that the group of children who watched the doll being hit and kicked, repeated the behavior when placed in a room with their own Bobo doll.
This study can be argued on both sides...those who agree with it and those who don't.
All I can think though, is that millions if not billions of dollars are spent each year on advertising and commercials to get us to think one way or act another. The same goes for the film and TV industries. I know I feel very differently walking out of a chick flick or romantic comedy than I do when I watch one of my husband's favorite action packed movies with him. There must be some influence in there somewhere...simply by what we're watching.
I guess that the bottom line is, Preston is very young. His little five year old mind is going to have more difficulty processing the fight scenes between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader (as cool as they may be). When he's a few years older, we'll see how it goes.
As for now, we're pulling things back old school and Mickey Mouse will be just fine. We've actually seen a difference in his behavior and he's lost his aggressive demeanor.
We're not opposed to him running around the house with his light saber someday. I guess we're just going to have to wait until he's old enough to understand and be able to handle the responsibilities of a Jedi Knight though.
May the Force be with him.