#096 Moral Panic: Innocence Lost
“Children today have become the most ‘watched’ of all generations, their lives increasingly regulated by adults” (Robinson, 2008, p. 116).
Concerns about protecting children seem to arise almost instantaneously in the wake of any new communication medium. Children are often seen as innocents who can be corrupted, damaged and permanently transformed by technology in ways that adults are powerless to prevent (Baym, 2015, p. 52). In the age of social media, parents are no longer simply worried about what their children wear out of the house but what they photograph themselves wearing in their bedroom to post online (Boyd, 2015, p. 54). What we see at play here is moral panic, aimed at maintaining the dominant power relations between adults and children.
The works selected for this programme relate to three moral panics in specific: the idea that media influence children to mature too soon, the commodification of childhood and contemporary panics about the alleged sexualization of children through the use of digital technologies. These moral panics intertwine and complement each other. In labeling these debates as moral panics, I suggest that both the scale and content of media coverage constitute a response that is somewhat irrational and disproportionate to the purported problem. Often, the assertions and understandings upon which these panic discourses are based are not supported empirically, but they do appeal to and mobilize broader underlying cultural anxieties.
Moral panics embody a call to action, a suggestion that something must be done. But what is that something? With my channel programme Moral Panic: Innocence Lost, I invite the viewer to adopt a critical view. Are the moral panics visible in the works indeed irrational? Or are the concerns regarding children well-grounded? Should we indeed protect our children from all the dangers online, or should our children – digital natives – prevent adults from sharenting? The selected works can be seen as visualizations of moral panics, but also as a dissenting voice.
This programme was created by Lindi Eijsker as part of her Internship in 2021
Films in this programme
(FR 2002, 2:17 min)
(RO 2005, 8:00 min)
(USA 2000, 4:50 min)
(CA 2003, 7:00 min)
(NL 2020, trailer 1:00 min)
(FR 2003, 3:00 min)
(NL 2015, webshop)