It’s Not Enough To Just Keep Your Child Away From the Media
By Dr. Ted Baehr, Movieguide® Founder and Publisher
In the 21st Century, the presence of media is so pervasive that simply trying to keep your children away from it is not enough. The parenting articles explain tried and true methods of protecting children from destructive media influence by developing discernment and a rock solid worldview built on knowing and experiencing God’s love and truth.
You will learn step-by-step how to teach your children to develop discernment, wisdom, knowledge, and understanding about movies, television, music, video games, social media, and the all other forms of the media of entertainment and communication.
This will enable your children to use and enjoy the mass media of entertainment without succumbing to the vain imaginings, enchantments and temptations of the predominant media mindset. You will equip them with the intellectual and spiritual tools they need to deal with all the media input that confronts them.
The SCREEN-WISE FAMILY approach has been tested on children and parents for more than six decades, and more than 90 percent of those who have been taught this method of discernment have found it effective. For example, at a World Changers Conference for 1,000 teenagers, 98 percent committed to base their media decisions on the discernment tools that they learned in this course. Also, many top media executives have said that they’ve changed the way they view the media because of this process.
Our families, and especially our youth, are being corrupted and destroyed by the messages being sold in the mass media of entertainment. Even our churches have been unable to give their members, especially their youths, sufficient help in avoiding the negative impact of our entertainment culture. In fact, many churches are clueless about the extent of the problem in their congregations. Other churches have opted for an anything goes attitude. As a result, the children have suffered, and the parents agonize over to how to deal with the problem. They don’t want their children to abandon biblical morality and go off as teenagers or college students into the toxic lifestyles promoted in the media.
Many leaders who want to address the problem have no solution except for parents to rearrange the furniture in their living rooms, or play Scrabble® with their children, rather than watch TV (these are good ideas, but they don’t offer a comprehensive solution needed in the 21st Century).
Part of the reason for this parental frustration is the fact that there’s been a dumbing down of the country by people promoting the self-esteem, values clarification and other recent education fads, which dispense with the fundamentals of classical education and promote politically correct leftist falsehoods, mindless tolerance and radical identity politics. The consequence of these educational experiments can be seen clearly in the church. At the time of the American Revolution, the colonial church was praised for being highly literate, with most of the churchgoing population reading and writing English, Latin, Greek, and at least one other language. Today, many experts are told to edit and adapt their communications to a fifth grade level for church consumption.
This dumbing down has prevented many concerned Americans from developing the necessary discernment to use the media properly, rather than being used by it.
Teaching children discernment is difficult for many parents because they:
- WERE NOT taught discernment themselves;
- DO NOT grasp the full magnitude of a solid Christian worldview themselves;
- DO NOT watch the movies, hear the music, go to the websites, or play the games that engage their children;
- DO NOT understand the cognitive, psychological and spiritual impact of the mass media on their children;
- DO NOT understand that their children view the media “syntactically” in terms of the visual, aural and emotional elements of the media (such as the action and adventure in movies and rhythm and beat in music), while parents usually see the media “semantically” in terms of meaning, message and moral implications (such as the sex, violence, foul language, and message in a movie and the obscene lyrics of a rap song), while reviewers critique it “aesthetically” in terms of their artistic elements, and very few of them understand the other person’s perspective;
- DO NOT understand how the mass media of entertainment influences their children differently at various different stages of cognitive development;
- DO NOT comprehend the principles behind teaching discernment and media awareness other than discussing (or complaining about) a form of media or locking media devices in a closet, and then playing board games or going for walks.
Therefore, parenting articles will clearly set forth the practical tools you can use to teach your children discernment. Other articles have presented the problem eloquently, but parenting articles differ in that they present the solution in a comprehensive, intelligible way that will help your children learn how to use the media for entertainment, information and even education, without being conformed and addicted to it.
Most other courses in this area fail to teach how the media works and how it psychologically, emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually influences children. To equip your children with the tools to develop discernment and use the media appropriately requires:
- Teaching them the visual, aural and logical grammar of the media (which differs from the grammar of the written word).
- Teaching them how to ask and answer the right questions about the communications and entertainment media they use.
- Teaching them to compare their answers to the biblical norm and biblical principles.
In addition, these parenting articles will:
- Help you understand why and how your children are affected by the mass media of entertainment.
- Help you understand how adults look at films as opposed to how children do.
- Help you understand how other groups, including Hollywood talent, look at movies and entertainment.
- Help you teach your children the basic principles of media awareness and discernment, including the right questions to ask in order to gain a better understanding of the influences and messages in movies, music, television programs, social media, or video games.
- Help you with practical, specific examples of movies and television programs that can be used to teach your children discernment.
- Help you and your children understand the language and grammar of the mass media of entertainment.
- Help you and your children to see media with the help of the Holy Spirit.
To achieve these goals these parenting articles will:
Expose the nature of the problem which the mass media of entertainment presents (because understanding the problem is the first step to developing discernment);
Explain why there is a problem;
Illustrate how some of the mass media of entertainment works and how it affects all of us;
Set forth in detail all the tools and techniques of discernment;
Teach how to use the media without being used by it;
Teach how to hear from God as your media advisor; and,
Give practical information about how to work toward redeeming the values of the mass media.
These parenting articles will help you tame the media shrew so that she becomes a helpful ally in providing us with information, education and entertainment. It will help you help your children deal with the images that have already influenced their lives in negative ways and help them to follow Jesus Christ more closely.
As one friend noted when, after exploring media-wisdom with me, he came to faith in Jesus Christ, that “God gave me back my mind.” God wants us to think clearly, and so He tells us in His word to develop discernment, get wisdom and acquire knowledge. These parenting articles will help you to do just that by giving you the media awareness and biblical discernment skills to overcome the powerful influences and artificial peer pressure of the mass media of entertainment.
Editor’s Note: These articles are adapted from Dr. Ted Baehr’s THE CULTURE WISE FAMILY book. You can buy a copy from www.movieguide.org or on Amazon.