You mentioned in a post that fiction ≠ reality, but to kids it's not, fiction shapes how they see the world. Fiction is supposed to show them what's right and what's wrong. Adults who support adult/minor relationships make it had for children to distinguish that line if they haven't dealt with discourse (in the actual sense of the word) on serious subjects before. I can't make you stop shipping adult/minor ships, but I hope you consider what you're posting and the consequences that they have.
Is it fiction that shapes their perception or context?
I will agree that what we see in the media can influence us to some extent; a tragic movie can bring us to tears, just like a drama can educate us on matters across the globe, and propaganda has been used - even in modern day - to try and change the opinions of the masses to suit a greater power.
That being said, those things all rely on context: our tears spring from empathy, the education relies on a desire to be educated, and propaganda usually is on the back of a society willing to believe or being fed specific information from other sources. It’s like in children’s shows. We see Bart Simpson being strangled by his father, or Keith name-calling Lance, but children usually know these things are completely wrong.
They know not to imitate ‘Tom and Jerry’, because they have parents and teachers there to say: “it is wrong to hurt someone else”. They get time-outs on the naughty step, or a spanking in certain cultures, or just a long lecture … they usually have some trusted figure there to discipline and/or explain, so that everything they watch is through that same filter of understanding.
It’s why we need to supervise the media our children consume.
I think you are right: if this is the only discourse a child sees, it can have detrimental affects, but - massive ‘but’ here - where are the parents/guardians? Why are strangers on the Internet meant to parent the children of other people, whom they have not agreed to legally raise?
See, when we grew up, this was a constant discussion. We were taught basics of reproduction as soon as we asked questions. We were taught about ‘naughty places’ and ‘private places’. We were taught never to let an adult touch there. These discussions evolved over time, so - as a young teenager - we were taught about statutory rape, that even if we ‘want’ it that it’s still wrong, and so forth and so forth …
We need to put the responsibility for raising a child on the parents.
Tumblr is 18+ on the app, 13+ on the website, I believe? While AO3 allows all content and explicitly states this, while having a tagging and rating system for you to make an informed choice about what you see. This means we have to lay responsibility upon the parents for not supervising or limiting the Internet activity of the child, instead of trying to infringe upon the rights of adults and remove their safe spaces to produce/consume art as they wish.
It’s basically a case of there being safe spaces for children, too, where they can discuss/consume art freely without coming across such materials, but that falls upon the parent to make sure that they are on the right websites … example, if I do not like porn then I avoid porn sites. If I don’t want to see shipping, I don’t go onto Tumblr or AO3.
What I’m advocating is personal responsibility.
We need parents/guardians to stop the children from seeing these things, or for them (and schools) to provide a context to what they see … if a child knows that it’s fiction, just like child abuse in ‘The Simpsons’ or glorified violence in ‘Tom and Jerry’ is just fiction, they won’t normalise it and seek to emulate it. The answer isn’t to ban or censor such cartoons; no one would ever say ‘ban cartoons’, because they’re a part of life, but I think providing context to cartoons is absolutely key to these things.
One last example …
I was around eight when “South Park” first came out; we watched it religiously as children, even with videos cassettes of it, because parents assumed that it was safe as all cartoons were for kids (that was their mistake and their fault as parents, because - like with shipping - the content isn’t the problem, but that it’s made accessible by parents unwilling to supervise their own children).
In our case, we had massive context for what we saw (luckily, our parents were good on that score, which is part of why I always advocate teaching children, especially if you aren’t willing to supervise them). We never copied the bad language (some people I know today never swear; even I say ‘shoot’ or ‘darn’ as a general rule). No one I know copied the violence (I don’t have a single friend from that group who ever tried to kick a baby, for example).
It was just entertainment. We laughed and enjoyed it, but we never copied it or held it up to a standard of normality … it was just a cartoon; we knew that, because our parents taught us that, as well as teaching us the behaviour in such cartoons was inappropriate in real life. This is why education is key.
If a child has parents that accidentally let them see Keith/Shiro, they should at least have the education and context to know that behaviour is inappropriate and should not be copied … it’s not up to shippers to stop creating such works, because the places we’re in are designed for adults or for all age-groups with explicit rules allowing such art. Now, if I went onto a children’s forum and posted such things -? Bad. On Tumblr -? Not so bad.
Sorry for the long essay back.
We just need to realise that art/fanfiction isn’t the problem; the problem comes from parents/guardians not contextualising what children see, or preventing them from seeing it in the first place. We also need more safe spaces just for children, both moderated and supervised by responsible adults, so they have places to go that - well - aren’t Tumblr or AO3.