Our technology is outgrowing our ability to filter it, as I recently discovered on an international flight. It was during this flight that I realized a new enemy is present for parents who want to protect the innocence of their children: lack of control.
While traveling on February 24, 2014 on a Delta flight from Manila, Philippines to Los Angeles, California, I was again reminded of the myriad of entertainment choices that are now available on airlines. And while airlines have done an incredible job of providing great entertainment choices for their customers, I feel that the availability has grown faster than the ability to filter it appropriately for underage audiences.
As I was sitting in my seat, I counted 12-15 personal video screens that I could see clearly from my seat, in addition to my own personal seat back monitor. I could see everything that was being shown on these other screens. Because all genres and ratings of movies are currently available in every seat, I could view movies with graphic violence, explicit sexual scenes (including nudity), and other adult related material. This creates a problem when remembering that children are daily present on these flights.
Imagine if your child (or the child of a friend) was able to view these scenes at a glance while flying for hours on board a flight. Placing families in this sort of atmosphere eliminates the parent’s ability to control the content of their children’s entertainment choices. I was distraught just thinking about my 4 year old son sitting beside me and taking in these images.
Before now, if something was objectionable or offensive, parents needed simply to find the “off” switch or “mute” button, helping to control their children’s media intake. On a plane, this is now nearly impossible.
I do think this is a specific problem with a specific industry (airlines). I cannot think of anywhere else this is true right now. If a movie is offensive, you walk out of the theater. If a TV commercial is offensive, you turn it off. But regardless, the principle – lack of control – will surface elsewhere as technology grows.
I suggest humbly that the airlines consider the following options:
1 – Family Sections
Near the front of the plane, the first few sets of rows are limited in their entertainment choices. Anyone sitting in these rows will only find family-oriented media to enjoy
2 – Privacy Screens
Screens like these are used to protect business and personal data from prying eyes. Why not use them to protect the eyes of our children? These could be installed relatively easily on most planes, I would think.
Parents, what do you think? Is this a real problem that needs to be addressed? Let your voice be heard.