The events of the past 18 months all thrown together have certainly awakened our radar to the reality that our children need us to protect them on all levels. In Matthew 18:6, Jesus says: “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who trusts in me to lose faith, it would be better for that person to be thrown into the sea with a large millstone tied around the neck.”
These are very strong words spoken by Christ that speak to every parent and every adult who is given the opportunity to guard and protect the vulnerability of our children on a physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual level. We have become dependent upon our cell phones, computers, iPod, iPad, and the likes; and we equip our children to follow suit. Please know there is a downside. Through these tools, our children can be exposed to information that is too mature or heavy for their little hearts and minds to process; and while that information is shaping them, the parents are not.
Family relationships and sharing has been replaced with individual family members doing their own thing focusing on the outside world. “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It straightens us out and teaches us to do what is right” (2 Tim. 3:16). Most of the information coming at us and at our children has little to do with God’s instructions for us. The time we invest to process all that comes our way should be devoted to relationship building and sharing within the family. So what does all this mean and how do we as parents reel our children in so that we can protect them and steer them in the right direction?
Today’s media exposure can be narrowed down to two areas that parents can manage: quantity and content. The quantity and content are directly related to age, personality and developmental stage of our children. How much time are they spending with some type of media device and what are they being exposed to through that device? Children are impressionable. Their brains are being developed by their environment.
Primetime television is inappropriate, and if you watch some of the children’s shows you will find that many model sarcasm, rebellion and disobedience. Dr. David Walsh, PH.D. and respected expert on media’s impact on children and families puts forth eight questions for parents on media use:
“1. Do you have rules in your family limiting how much time you use media? Parents must model restraints from using these during family time.
2. Do you keep TVs, video games and computers out of bedrooms? We need to establish the bedroom as a place of rest. By keeping these things out of bedrooms we are establishing a boundary that will ensure that our children are resting and it also protects them from the temptation of using their media devices at inappropriate times.
3. Do you keep the television off during meals?
4. Are you aware of the different media ratings systems and what they mean?
5. Do you only allow your children and teens to watch appropriately rated movies and play appropriately rated video games? R-rated movies and M-rated video games should be a “no”.
6. Are you aware of the music lyrics your child listens to and do you discuss with them the ones you object to?
7. Do you have clear rules about internet use?
8. Do you monitor your child’s internet use?
The media is a powerful force for benefit or harm and it’s up to us as ‘parents’ to decide what effect media will have on our family.”