Media and Our Parenting-Part 1~ Link-Up

It’s Media Monday!  So far in our series, we have explored Media and Our Walk with God and Media and Our Marriages. Today we are going to focus on the effects of Media on Our Parenting.

We can walk into any gym or field of a child’s athletic game and find half the parents staring at their phones~texting, tweeting, facebooking. I’ll admit – I’m guilty too. I take my iPad to my son’s Karate class and I fit right in. All the parents are distant and distracted. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve seen a child on the ground crying and I’ve scanned the row of moms wondering – where’s his mom? While the child cries – it feels like years pass until the distracted parent comes forward to comfort their child. The shells of parents are there but their minds are far from present.

While it’s easy to identify distant and distracted parents, this series has made me take a hard look at myself. I am guilty of checking my email way too often, being distracted by thoughts about “on-line drama”, and making my children wait patiently while I finish reading or writing something on-line.

My time spent on media IS affecting my parenting.  My children’s time spent on media IS affecting my parenting. Generation X is now raising Generation iY. The landscape for parenting has changed but we must remember
Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”

My children attended a virtual home school for the last two years so they are very computer savvy. It’s not uncommon to see my children on an iPad, DS, wii, computer or watching television. While they do none of these things excessively, they are a part of our daily lives and they seem innately capable of navigating their way through this maze of technology. 

Here’s what generation iY are into:

1.  Cell phones -  Most teens would say a cell phone is vital to their lives.  If your teen/tween doesn’t have one – most likely they are begging for one   We can get in touch with our children when we need to –  which is a great perk - but it comes at the danger of access to p*rn in their pocket, children texting rather than communicating with the people right next to them, children becoming distant and distracted from real life,  s*xting (that’s sending an inappropriate photo of themselves to someone else), and texting and driving ~ just to name a few!

2.  Social Media- this includes Facebook, MySpace, blogs and Twitter.   It’s social – they can connect with their friends and  follow good spiritual role models on-line. But if they are in the wrong crowd on social media, it  can have a greater influence in a child’s thinking than their parents or  church.  Communication is fast.  Our kids can write at a rapid pace using abbreviations and acronyms to communicate with brevity.  It is very hard for parents to monitor this 24/7 access to peers, strangers and celebrity influences.

3.  Music - this includes iTunes and Youtube.  Music has always been a prime influence on the youth.  The music of the youth shapes and molds their thinking and now it is at a touch of their fingertips!  They can download a song in an instant.  If they are making wise choices – this is a blessing.  But if they are prone to having an appetite for the world’s pleasures this can be destructive. 

4.  Television - even after all the on-line access kids have - television still is a heavy influence.  Some homes have nearly 900 channels.  Shows such as Jersey Shore feed our children junk food for the mind.

5. Video Games – a majority of parents would say – “we know that this is a massive time waster for our children – but isn’t it wonderful how it keeps them busy, out of trouble and manageable!”  I am not anti-video games - but I do fear it makes children lazy.  Also, as boys grow older their appetite for violence and s*xual content in their games can grow as their tolerance levels grow. 

My conclusions:

1.  We must be vigilant and aware of every form of media our children are involved in. If we don’t protect them, who will?  It is our JOB as parents to know what our children are doing.  Who are their friends on-line?  What music choices are they making?  Are they sneaking late at night in their beds on their cell phone and iPods?  What songs are on their iPod?  What channels need blocked on the television?  Do we have filters on our internet?  What video games are they playing?. 

2.  Know your child’s weak spot? Is it gossip - watch the social media and texting?  Is it the desire for s*xual content – check their phones for s*xting, their on-line browsing history for p*rn sites, and their youtube choices?  Is it anger and a thirst for violence?  Monitor their video games and music on their iPod.  Is it loneliness?  Be sure they aren’t connecting with strangers ie. predators – to fill a void.  Screen your children’s weak spots and MONITOR HEAVILY their media activities.

3.  Redeem media.  Train your children to use all these things for God’s glory.  Encourage them to text a new friend from church or their brothers and sisters.  Encourage them to put a verse or christian youtube on their facebook page.  Have them invite non-Christian friends over to play video games to build a deeper relationship and pray for ways to witness to them.  Help them start a blog where they share the light of Jesus.  Encourage them to follow pastors and well known Christian writers on twitter so they can daily be spiritually encouraged by them.

We cannot monitor our children perfectly…and so this is where child training comes into play.  We must help our children to have a Godly conscience that is convicted when they go out of bounds with media.

Tomorrow I will post Part 2 of Media and Our Parenting.  I will cover my thoughts on how to train our children to handle media with wisdom and discernment.

But first, I want to hear your thoughts!

1. If you are a blogger and you have decided to join this series by blogging each week, please place the Media Mondays button somewhere on your blog so your readers can find us here and then link-up below. (if for some reason the code is not working for you – please – right click – save as – the Media Mondays button and link it to this post)

2.If you are not a blogger, join the discussion in the comment section! I look foward to hearing your thoughts.

3. If you use Facebook or Twitter, I want to encourage you to copy and paste this link from the browser on your status update and ask your friends to join the discussion.

Walk with the King!

Comments

  1. I love this! Thank you for taking the time to post on such an important topic. One thing to add to your cell phone and teenagers is a study I recently read about the great increased risk of brain tumors on children 18 and under who use cell phones. The study was really scary to read! So aside from the spiritual reasons to be cautious about media there are physical reasons as well!

  2. Hi there!
    This is great! So much truth! I am one to try to stay away from media. We have a T.V. but it is in a box and only brought out for educational videos, etc. Our kids don’t even know what a T.V. program is and don’t regret it. They love reading and looking at books, building things, etc. which I believe is because we have wanted to raise a standard in our home. Everywhere you go now there is a T.V. and the like. We don’t have video games either, but lots of board games. My oldest just beat my son in Stratego twice in two days and they are having so much fun with that. We have gotten so much slack for this, but looking at the fruit in my kids and how the light of Christ burns brightly within I wouldn’t take a minute back. So true, I need to make sure to put the phone down at times…replying to an e-mail even if it is for homeschool co-op is not as important as attention to my kids.

    Dana

  3. I’m thinking about your observation about distracted parents and parents asking their kids to yield to their media use. I feel convicted about this often. But when it comes down to it, I can’t blame technology. 10 years ago, it might have been a book or phone conversation or even a soap opera (*gasp*) that would have been distracting me and keeping me from being fully present with my children. I have friends who don’t share my addiction to social media but they clean obsessively and they regularly put their kids in front of the TV to make sure their to-do list is done. Distracted parenting is the issue, I think.
    Lately my almost 4yo son has begun saying, “Mommy, are you in the cloud?”
    There is a delicate balance, but as I wean myself off my obsessive email and facebook interactions, I want to be careful not to replace those things with other things (more noble things, even, like dishes or laundry) that still keep me from being “present” and actively involved with my children. I certainly do not want to teach them to be here, but not really “here.” I can only imagine what that will be like when they are teens.

    I’m looking forward to your Part 2. Media literacy is my passion!

  4. Heather says:

    Thanks so much for this great blog post. I totally agree that we, as parents, need to be aware of what is going into our children’s minds. I also think it can be a point of contention among Christians, since we all have Christian liberty and have to make the right decisions for our own children, and not judge everyone else’s. So it is a fine line to walk, not to offend, and yet not to pressure others to do things our way. I think awareness is key, wherever our children are, and having an open relationship so that they can discuss with us the things that are questionable. You are totally right about knowing EACH CHILD’S weakness. While violence may lure some, occult/supernatural may lure another, and p*rn another. Openness with our children is key, letting them know that they can talk with us about anything–since their friends will try to tell them their (often misinformed) views, and we need to counter that with the truth.

  5. I was thinking about all this last week. What must my children think when I choose to check my email rather than chat to them in the doctor’s surgery? My kids are still far too young for phones so they have nowhere to turn when their mother is focussing on her iPhone and they are sitting silently next to her. I think the best way to monitor it is to pretend someone (probably your own mum) has just moved in and is helping you with the kids. What would SHE think of the way I use media? She who never owned a computer or a mobile phone when I was growing up. She who was never distracted in her parenting by people who weren’t even in the house!

    • Eva, excellent points, especially about the doctor’s office. What I have started doing with my children is reading aloud to them at the doctor’s office. This is also a great way to calm and quiet any other children that are in the room and to make yourself approachable to other parents who may be interested in homeschooling or SAHM or Christ. Or all three. Most of the time the other adults are just as bored and enjoy hearing a story read aloud, especially if it draws their own child in. I guess I should say here that I am not a shy person, and when I worked and my son was in preschool I would spend my lunch hour with him and read the class a story afterwards to give the teacher some down time. Hope this is helpful in some way.

  6. Courtney, we are so thankful that we never allowed so much of that kind of thing into our home. The kids have a shared cell phone to take for babysitting (it has no internet access), the PC used is monitored and the TV is mainly for watching “Little House on the Prairie” or “The Waltons.” Thus, our kids have no appetite for all of the nonsense that is so pervasive today. We’re not perfect… we just saw some of the dangers involved and have been purposeful to avoid them. Blessings!

    Shelly
    http://www.hlministries.blogspot.com

  7. Great Post! Thank you for putting a finger on a HUGE parenting problem with our generation!

  8. Wonderful post! My little ones are only 1 so it’s a bit early for them. But these are things we should definitely keep in mind!

    ~Sharing!

    Blessings!

  9. Kirsten says:

    I have a “no-cell phone rule” at my dance studio (not for parents, but for students)–otherwise they would be checking their text messages non-stop! It forces them to open their eyes and make friends with the other students in the classes. :)

    http://modernchristianbride.blogspot.com

  10. Hi Courtney

    What a great series! I think todays post is so much of help for all parents and if it is only to be forced to think about it just once more and have one or the other idea how to handle media. It is becoming more and more!

    I can still see that we don’t have that much stuff here in Europe yet but it will come. Yet our parents did not have anything at all when they grew up – how could they “survive”???

    We try to have very limited access to all media to our little children, especially during school time (at the moment we have our long six-week-summer-vacation). However, I fear it will be harder to controll the bigger they get…

    Greetings from Germany
    Katja

    PS: Can’t wait to start with translating your series into German, however, have to watch my online time at the moment…

  11. I appreciate your focus on training. Media in and of itself is neither good nor bad, it just is. How we use it determines its effects on our lives and the lives of those we love. Thanks!

  12. I am really enjoying this series. It has me taking a closer look at my own media use and is helping me decide how we will monitor our child’s access with media. Although my son is only two, I can already see how easy it is to let the TV and computer entertain my child, and why it is important to start placing boundaries even at a young age. Thank you!

  13. Thanks!!! I’m so glad to see you talking about this. Our pastor has been very good about telling us, as parents, to be vigilent of media for our kids. Our son got a cell phone recently, which has internet capability….first thing we did was have the web disconnected. No twelve year old boy needs to have the internet at his finger tips! Texting is fine to us, and talking. He’s only allowed to text or talk to phone numbers of those who are in the cell phone – which is pretty much ONLY family like grandparents and cousins and aunts and uncles. We have found it to be a great way to communicate and keep him safe when he’s away from us. Looking forward to reading more from you!

    Becky B.
    http://www.organizingmadefun.com
    Organizing Made Fun

  14. Your words written here ring true in so many ways we cannot count…
    Thanks for linking this up…

  15. “S*xual content?” Really? Sex isn’t a bad word, Courtney. We know how babies are made. The post was good but the compulsive eyeroll at the unnecessary censorship made it hard to read sometimes.

    • Alex – lol! Sorry but I think you have misread my motives… I don’t think it’s a bad word. It’s a lovely word :) I use the star because those who have filters to protect their young boys from p*rn would not be able to access this post because of the use of certain words in this post. I’ve been told in the past, that I was being blocked by filters because of a few of these words. With the star added in I don’t get filtered out. :)
      Courtney

  16. Hi Courtney!
    I love this post! It is so convicting on top of what the Lord has already been speaking to my heart through His Holy Spirit and Word!
    As you know I am reading Leigh Bortin’s book, “The Core”, and in it she says when addressing technology in the home:
    “I want my family to be aware that each thing we do replaces something else we could be doing, and we must fight hard not to choose the path of least resistance.”

    Thank you for all you do!
    Tara

  17. I recently read a post by “hands free mom” blogger and was really convicted about my computer time. I don’t have a cell phone, so I’m clear there (whew!), but I am so distracted by always checking the computer. I finally moved my laptop downstairs so I could only go on it when the kids were napping or in bed and it made SUCH A DIFFERENCE in our lives. The house is cleaner and I spent a lot of time just “being with” my kids. I know it’s a weakness of mine, so removing the temptation is the best strategy for me!!

    Lindsey @ GrowingKidsMinistry.com

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Yesterday we discussed areas where children are using media heavily – this includes cell phones, texting,  the internet, facebook, twitter, youtube, iPods, video games and the television.  All of these media outlets or amoral – they are neither good nor bad – it’s the use of them that determines their morality.   This is the lesson our children must learn.  [...]

  2. [...] the past few weeks, Courtney at Women Living Well has devoted Mondays to discussing how technology – cell phones, social media, video games, [...]

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