Vol. 3, No. 9
(Christian Bible Teacher, Abilene, TX, Vol. 44, No. 6, June 2000, p. 148.)
By the time the average American teenager graduates from high school, he or she will have spent more time consuming media outside of school -- watching TV, movies, playing video games, surfing the Web, etc. -- than time in school. According to the recently published Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation report, Kids and Media, average media consumption for children 8-13 exceeds eight hours a day.
Compare this to the couple of hours a week our children attend Bible classes and we see a problem that most Bible class teachers confront regularly, as well as parents. What are our children learning?
Our kids are learning from the mass media all the time their way of life and their morality. We know that mostly this is in contrast to the Christian way. Such things as living together before marriage, using foul language, homosexuality, divorce for any cause are presented as the normal way of life. Our kids are learning that sin is okay, and that there is actually no standard of morality, each is a law unto himself.
Secondly, our kids are learning to be loyal consumers of the mass media's version of reality, but not producers of their own versions which should be that of the Bible. Christian kids rarely have the opportunity to critically analyze media and produce the Christian response to media. Thus, most are blindly led to accept what they see and hear.
Our children are learning subtly that what is important in life is success, beauty, money and popularity. These things are often stressed on most TV shows and in movies. There is hardly ever mention of spiritual things or spiritual values. Humanism and situation ethics predominate in the media. Watching TV and movies, our kids get a lopsided view of life as a strictly materialistic matter.
So, what are our kids learning today if they are like the average kid in America? They are being indoctrinated every day in the things of the world. They are being influenced to forsake the ways of God, and even forsake God himself. They are being taught a materialistic and humanistic philosophy of life. This is bound to have a great effect on them and their thinking.
But, most important of all, what can we do about this as parents and teachers? One thing we can do is take control of our own children's lives. We can control, to a degree, what they watch and how much time they spend watching the media, at least in their early years. Monitor their viewing and let them know they cannot watch TV or movies that are contrary to Christian values.
Next, we can give them alternative things to do. This will require some effort and work on our part. But, it is well worth it. We can spend time with out children, or we can allow the world to mold them into its shape (Romans 12:1-2). If we cannot be with them, we can give them things to do (chores, good games, books to read, Bible class lessons to study, etc.). Keep them busy doing good things.
Third, we must as parents and teachers teach them the positive values of life. We must be aggressive in doing this, in pointing out the scriptural side of what they see and read. We must deal with specific subjects such as sexual morality, drugs, drinking, profanity, the right purpose of life and other biblical themes. We must be sure our children know what God says about these matters, in opposition to what is taught through the media.
We need to teach our children to know how to make proper decisions abut what they watch and read. We cannot always be with them as they grow older and when they leave home they will be on their own. We must instill in them when they are young that a Christian does not watch certain things -- those things which are immoral, anti-God and lustful. They must learn early to choose not to watch such things. If they grow up with this attitude it will likely stay with them through life.
Our kids will learn what to watch and read as they accept it. The media has a great influence on them, usually for bad. We can learn to control their intake, and to give them things to do, or we will pay the price -- materialistic and worldly-minded children. Teachers need to be aware of what their students are watching and reading, and make a positive effort to present God's side in morality and spiritual living.
If we do not take positive action and present God's side continually, our children will be overwhelmed by the media and their souls will be lost. Let's be aware of what our children are learning.