We live in a culture saturated with powerful media messages in movies, TV shows, advertisements, the Internet, magazines and music. From the type of bag to carry and the hairstyle to have, to the cool way to talk, stand or sit, our children are often influenced by the countless messages they face every day. A lot of today’s entertainment can have the effect of desensitizing us, and our children, to sex, violence and profanity. Not having our own filter on what we consume can give our children an unrealistic view of themselves and the world at large.
When it comes to entertainment, we need to take control of the media we consume and equip our children to sort through the messages that bombard us all the time.
Educating your children to be media wise today will help them they make smart decisions for themselves when they grow into their teen and adulthood. We know that it’s never ‘just entertainment’ when advertisers spend large amounts of money to persuade us to believe what they are telling us through various forms of media. So where do we start? Here are some suggestions:
- Establish guidelines for your family. Although entertainment decisions can fall into a bit of a grey area, establishing a family standard for what you watch, play and listen to would be helpful. This is not because your family needs more rules, but because you don't want to leave the concept of making wise choices to mere chance.
- Keep communication lines open. Talk often about the media with your kids, making sure that lines of communication stay open so that your kids can ask questions when they need to. When you have to say "no" to certain entertainment choices, help them find positive alternatives.
- Turn incidents into teachable moments. You may ever have felt like diving in front of your kids to shield them from a questionable commercial or an obscene magazine cover. Sometimes it all happens so quickly that you don’t have a chance to pre-empt them. Instead, you can point out why the song, show or image is problematic by your family’s standards. You can use such moments to identify what you disagree with.
- Impart values from young. We can’t be there all the time to process unwholesome content with our children, so what we need to do is prepare them to discern for themselves. This starts with passing down values like honor, self-control and integrity from a young age. It is also important to talk to and process with them through issues like sex and relationships, and equip them to make healthy choices in these areas.
Let’s continue to help our children choose wisely when it comes to entertainment, so that they can be smart consumers of media, and be able to analyze and filter out both overt and subtle messages constantly seeking to shape their hearts and minds.
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