What does your child read? Watch? What games are they playing? What music are they listening to? What are they texting about? Who they are video-chatting and what are they talking about?
These questions may or may not plague you. Should they?…..
Bad things exist in this world. And those things are way more appealing than being a “good child.”
We need to raise our children with full knowledge of the media they are consuming and using. Get involved in their lives. Know who their friends are, or one day, you may be dumbfounded when your daughter dates that guy. Does those drugs. Has sex at a young age. Or gets caught watching pornography.
Oh, Meredith. It’s not a big deal. My kids would never do that. Besides, I would know if my kid were doing bad things. God gives me intuition.
In my parents’ eyes, I was the perfect, angel child….but I wasn’t.
As a parent, you live in a different world than you grew up in. Things change. It is easier than ever to access bad books, filthy movies and violent games. And while you may not think it affects your kids that much. IT DOES.
Here’s a small example…
I grew up with scary movies from a young age. To this day, I still jump onto my bed at night for fear that a dead person will grab my foot to grab my attention (Name that movie!). It doesn’t stop there. My husband often rolls his eyes at my fear of the woods. He didn’t grow up watching scary movies, so to him, the woods is just a fantastical place on God’s green earth where you frolic with nature and God’s friendly creatures. To me, it’s a dinosaur attack waiting to happen.
I watched that movie as a child, and it STILL affects me. If that small movie affected me all the way to adulthood, you can imagine how much more movies with cursing, violence and sex scenes affected me.
Movies affect you.
Now, my rebellious habits as a child were not a reflection of totally passive parenting. My parents took me to church, sent me to a Christian school and encouraged Bible studies. We talked through some movies that had questionable content. They told me certain movies that were off limits. I knew what was wrong and what was right.
Unfortunately, it didn’t matter. It wasn’t enough. The work-arounds were too simple.
While there are many work-arounds, and I’m sure I’ll discover more from my own children in the future, here are the two I used.
Work-Around #1: The Delete Button
I wasn’t stupid. I deleted the texts and images from my phone history and computer history so no one ever knew what I was doing. Parents, it’s really easy to do, and most likely your millennial (or Generation Z) children know how to get around devices way better than you do.
- Make all devices public. Kids do not need television, smartphones or video games in their bedroom.
- Don’t tell your kids the password to the internet. My husband’s parents did this growing up, and it was a huge benefit in their home. There is no reason kids need to be online without your knowledge. Simply type the password for them, and change it every once in a while just in case they are good guessers.
- Install parental control that is password protected.
- Don’t let your teenager have a smartphone. I know. I know. How on earth will they survive? As much as they moan and groan about it. A texting/calling dinosaur phone will suit them just fine until graduation. When you give a teenager a smartphone, you give them access to (and I’m not exaggerating) the world. Think of the absolute worst thing you can imagine your teenager viewing. A smartphone gives them FREE access to that.
Work-Around #2: Lying (funny how that works)
I read many bad books for me, watched many bad movies and TV Shows. When my parents asked me about them. I simply lied. “It’s a sci-fi book.” Well, it was. I didn’t completely lie. I just left out that they were actually sci-fi erotic novels. Don’t settle for your teenagers’ description of what they are reading, watching, etc.
So how do you find out EXACTLY what is in their entertainment? Are we parents supposed to read every book, watch every movie and play every video game before our children?
Thank goodness that answer is a resounding….NO.
I am almost giddy to share this solution, because it has revolutionized our lives in the Knoop home. It’s called Plugged-In.
Pluggedin.com is a branch of Focus on the Family dedicated solely to helping parents make wise media decisions for their kids.
In short, they do all the work for you.
They review virtually every single popular book, movie, music album and video game.
They deliver an amazing breakdown on the:
- overall message
- positive elements
- negative elements
- sexual content
- language and
They don’t presume to make the parenting decision for you, but simply give you the tools to make an educated decision on whether or not you think the particular media is good for your child.
Let me give you two examples of how this worked with our family.
The Good Dinosaur
Contrary to the name and cover of this movie, it was NOT a good choice for movie night. Unfortunately, we assumed it would be a cute movie for our two-year-old. If we had taken the time to read the Plugged-In review online, we would have found out that there is a LOT of violence and even a scene where the two main characters get high (and I’m not talking about flying). Now, a parent of an 8-year-old might have read this review and decided their child could probably handle it, but we very much regretted the $3 rental.
On another family movie night, we decided to watch Moana. This movie had already been out for a while, and neither of us really had any desire to watch it. This time, however, we went to Plugged-In to see what they thought a good family movie might be. What did they recommend? Moana. Now, they gave fair warning that there was some Hawaiian mythology and a scary scene, but they loved the movie otherwise. Low and behold, our son was dancing to Moana music for months…and so were we.
Being a media-savvy parent is essential for the spiritual and physical well-being of your child. There are video games where you play a gang member who kills cops and goes to strip clubs. The evil is real. I don’t have time to go into detail about the kinds of books, movies and video games that are popular today. You’re just going to have to trust me. They are bad.
And yet, you don’t want to constantly be sneaking into your teenager’s room, peeking under his or her bed for bad books or movies.
So, here’s my advice, as a once-sneaky teenager.
First, be your child’s best friend. Interact with them about the kind of media they enjoy and show genuine interest. Who knows, maybe your teen has really good taste in books or movies. And if they don’t, you have an amazing opportunity to talk about the influence of media. Unfortunately for me, I will have opportunities to talk about how they negatively impacted me for the rest of my life.
Second, stay informed. I cannot recommend Plugged-In enough. And if you want to take it a step farther, read Plugged-In Parenting, an amazing (and terrifying) book about how media affects us all.
Unfortunately, some parents take great steps toward protecting their child’s eyes and ears, yet are completely clueless as who their kids are friends with. Your family rules won’t apply here. So, while it may seem silly or like a lot of work, meeting with their parents and discussing your wishes for safe entertainment may go a long way.
And last, but certainly not least, cover your children in prayer.
Scripture says all things work out together for good to those that love God and are called according to His purpose. Looking back, I can see how God used my past to help others. But if I had my choice, I would have never gone to that friend’s house. I would have never borrowed that book. I would have never watched those movies. Pray for your children every day.
Remember Philippians 4:8:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
This includes your children too.
#whatevermoms #whateverispure #dowhatyoucandoandletGoddotherest