The Importance Of Pop Culture In A Child's Imagination

from the stop-the-moral-panics dept

There’s a long tradition of many parents whining about whatever pop cultural element is enticing their children — mainly just because it’s different than the type of cultural elements they had when they were kids. In some cases, it even reaches the point of a moral panic. However, reader ChurchHatesTucker writes in to point to news concerning some research done into fandom around the Harry Potter series, which basically found that children need pop culture in their lives, as a way of building up their imaginations, and creating the framework for their own storytelling activities. It doesn’t seem to matter much the quality of the content — just that it gives the kids something to work with in order to craft their own imaginative worlds.

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Comments on “The Importance Of Pop Culture In A Child's Imagination”

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Anon says:

It seems that the important part is having something that stimulates a child’s imagination. Good books, even classics can do that far better than much of the twaddle that passes as childrens’ entertainment or literature these days. I am not classifying HP as twaddle but much of pop culture can be, the important thing is to give our children things that make them want to imagine and create worlds of their own. I have not met a child who read Jules Verne or CS Lewis who could not imagine themselves under the sea or in the land of Narnia. I can’t say that for a child who read Spongebob or the Diary of a wimpy kid.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: RE: post #1

Which brings up an interesting point. The *way* the classics are written is harder for beginners, or even skilled readers, to understand. Shakespear may have great plays and written so that the commoners can have a laugh as well, but trying to read that now…

The meanings of words changes over time. As do phrases or even just references. It would not surprise me if in 100 years time, Harry Potter isn’t a “children’s book” just like the Illiad isn’t a bedtime story (though if you have a great storyteller, that’s another story).

Ethan Rafe (profile) says:

Trust me, you do NOT want you kids on most Fanfic!

This is just one example of the demented people who write there. Nothing in the real world compares with this; I’d rather show my the reality of war then have them read


Given that, there is a heck of a lot of fanfiction much better then what I’ve read in books; and lot of better books then JKR wrote.

Note also that 2/3 of the stories have slash in them, so really…

John says:

Re: Annony

“Junk” and “good” is purely a matter of perspective. I recall lots of movies, books, cartoons and other entertainment which I absolutely loved as a kid but today I would consider to be quite poor. However much of that “junk” is what gave me a great imagination which I use in my career today. Simply opening that door for a child is all you need. They will decide for themselves what they think is good and bad.

joe says:

I raised my 5 children in a home filled with books. Virtually no television. “Games” did not exist. Each played competitive sports most of their childhood. Now, all are adults with excellent careers as varied as key programmer of one of the world’s most famous web sites to a nationally known musician. There are now six grandchildren, similarly raised with books and activities instead of TV and games. The oldest just graduated CumLaude from a top university and is now heading for a Masters at another. The others are on a similar tracks related to their own interests and talents. I doubt that the above could be said of any other group of 11 children raised on a diet of pop culture, television and D&D. It is a lazy and selfish parent who would allow anyone else, especially “pop culture” – whose only interest is financial gain – to have a role in their child’s future.

It saddens me, when I pass the neighborhood game seller’s store, to note that there always is a bunch of kids ranging from grade school to high school – and older – waiting to buy noisy, violent games, while the library down the block is totally empty. My sadness is both for our society and for them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Your children may be the product of parental involvement and not restricted entertainment.

I learned so much from video games and “pop culture”. My bet is that if you find 11 kids with similar levels of parental involvement, the kids will learn and grow from whatever entertainment they have.

Certainly, nearly all kids who fail grow up on pop culture (due to lax parenting). That doesn’t make the culture bad, it just makes it easy.

mike42 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m not sure if you read this post, but it was about “imagination.” Although your children appear to be successful, I don’t see anything about “imagination” in your comment. I also get the feeling that you weren’t hurting in the finance department.
I can tell you, as someone who qualified for reduced lunches in public school, that pop culture, video games, and television are a tremendous asset to imagination, creativity, and yes, success in life. I grew up on Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica. When the Atari 2600 came out, I saved 6 months of paper route money to buy one. It inspired me to create video games myself, and gave me an interest in computers. Then, when I started playing D&D, the standardized system in the game made me think about to categorize things in real life, and how to abstract them. It formed the basis of my ability to analyze problems as a Software Developer, which is what I do for a living today, and make a very good living at it.
Your low opinion of pop culture does not make you wise, it makes you a narrow minded ass. Pop culture allowed me to climb to heights I otherwise would not have attained, and you are a moron for spitting on it.
As for imagination, which was the basis of this post, I have always been an avid writer, and I enjoy drawing, painting, and sculpting. Many of these things I create are directly influenced by the pop culture you so detest.

You obviously are completely ignorant of what pop culture is all about, but you feel perfectly vindicated in trashing it. I would say that, by eliminating pop culture from their lives, you stifled your children’s creativity and limited their potential.

You disgust me.

robin (profile) says:

Re: joe's success

what joe and his family realize is the difference between:

actively developing an imagination of one’s own (and it’s benefits)


passively being delivered someone else’s imagination

my two daughters are very aware of the surrounding pop culture, and i don’t absolutely discourage it at home. it provides a common language within their peer group. i wish it didn’t, but i can’t change that.

i do my best to lead them and teach them to develop themselves themselves, not through something as passive as a tv.

Gene Cavanaugh (profile) says:

Pop Culture

Again, RIGHT ON, Michael!
While I continue to maintain that children (and many adults) ARE influenced by the media and the culture surrounding them (for example, ScienceDaily showed that if you are surrounded by obese people, obese seems “normal”), it is equally true that these things are not necessarily bad.
“Protecting the Children” all too often means leaving them defenseless against the real world. NO violence can be as damaging as too much violence. I could go on and on, but I would rather just agree with what has already been said!

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