Media and Our Parenting ~ Part 2
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.
As moms, we must train our children to recognize the good use and the harmful use of media. How you may ask? Here’s a few of my thoughts – please add to them in the comments section:
1. Boundaries. When the item comes into the home for the first time – set boundaries.
For example, the cell phone will charge in the kitchen each night – where mom and dad have access to everything that has happened on the phone during the day. This avoids the phone being used at all hours of the night for secret temptations.
Another example – video games – set a timer. It’s so inconvenient but how far are we willing to go to keep from raising lazy children? It’s worth it.
iPods – have them get permission before downloading any songs period. Screen their music and help them make wise decisions. If there is a certain song they like that you think is unhealthy – talk about it.
Television – block channels or hours of the day when they are not to be watching.
Computers – keep them in a central location in the home where sneaking would be difficult – ie. the kitchen. My sister has an automatic shut down on her computer – from midnight until morning it can’t be turned on without a code that only she knows.
2. Prepare to be unpopular with your child. If you set the above boundaries – be prepared for some battles. It’s easiest to have no boundaries at all. But you know better than your children all the dangers. You will have to be strong, consistent, gentle in your explanations and prayful as you guide your children.
3. Don’t be afraid to snoop. Okay – I already know that there are a host of moms who really think this is a bad idea – you think it will ruin your relationship with your children right? NOPE – let your children know in advance that you will be overseeing their activity on media ie. snooping. It should be no secret to your children that you are aware of what they are doing – this will keep them from feeling violated – you will not secretly snoop – you will openly oversee their activity because you love them and want to protect and guide them.
My parents did all of the above during my youth. They set boundaries on music, movies, tv, friendships, books and magazines. They were very unpopular for their boundaries. None of my friends had as strict of boundaries as my parents had (both in my public school and in my youth group.) I cried at times, complained, fought back, and mouthed off. My parents stood their ground – in love. And I am SO glad they did! (Thanks Mom and Dad! You rock!)
The key is they did this IN LOVE. My parents talked with me about my choices, showed me in God’s word principles that dictated our choices, and guided me into truth lovingly and gently.
I was able to receive their boundaries because of 2 things:
1. I had been loved with an unconditional, gentle, and forgiving love. My parents listened and listened and listened to my heart – and then after all their listening – they guided my heart. We must have our children’s heart if we are going to lead them into truth. This listening starts the day they are born. Do not be the distracted mom on your computer (preaching at myself here) – listen to your children – listening equals love.
2. They taught me to fear God. This was key to my obedience of their boundaries. From a young age my parents taught me how to have a quiet time. I developed my own walk with God by 4th grade. The more I obeyed, the more sensitive I was to detecting things that were holy and unholy in the media. The more I was able to detect holy and unholy things, the more discerning I became. The more discerning I became, the more wise I became until I came to a point of not needing my parents guidance. I naturally knew what was appropriate and inappropriate and began discerning for myself (as my sisters can attest to – I was a real pest to my big sisters as they tried to enjoy the radio – I was known for saying “that song is baaaaaaad“. My poor sisters 🙁 Thanks for putting up with me girlies! You rock too!)
Proverbs 1:7 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.”
The child who is loved and has a healthy fear of God will eventually be able to monitor their own media. A child who daily is in God’s word and desires to please him will be sensitive to the junk media offers and will practice self-control. So we must parent toward this goal. To raise children who love and fear God and who have their own personal walk with God.
Don’t forget to visit the link-ups from part 1! I love hearing everyone’s thoughts on this!
Plugging the cell phone chargers in the kitchen is such a great idea! We are a bit far from needing to do that, but I would never have thought to do that! Also I love the idea of “open snooping.” Its amazing how parenting has had to change with the times, especially since my husband and I actually grew up knowing what life was like before all of this technology. I remember when we didn’t even have call waiting! Thanks for all
This is really good. Never thought of having the cell phone charging in the kitchen. All my boys (3) have their cell phones charging in their rooms. My oldest (12 yrs old) does have his computer in his room (it was put in there for homeschool online). I DO check the history! I would love to know how to do the shut down. He can stay up on it playing games very late. I also block channels on all our televisions with a code. I have had some adult babysitters texting me for the code after the kids were in bed. The rating level is only Y7 with nothing allow that has S*xual content, fantasy, violence and language. I don’t have a time limit on video or hand-held games. Any music that is downloaded must pass my husband and I first. We have yet to say no to music. They make good choices on music.
Great thoughts. I am glad my parents were “mean,” and “strict” in my then teenage eyes. It saved me a lot of heartache, I am sure. What we allow our kids to feed on is what they become.
I think the “Open snooping” is very important. My teenage daughter knows her parents are very direct about being in the know and she understands why. We had to start doing this when she was befriended by the wrong type of girls at school in 6th grade….never thought my daughter, who never gave us much trouble at all would need it, but all of a sudden her behavior changed and she began cutting. We took over her privacy and loved her with tough love until she got through this crisis….took several months of Christian counseling and boy did she hate us for awhile…
Oh…this was so good. Your parent’s loving you so deeply mixed with a fear of God. We are having a heated discussion on my blog about spanking. Disciplining your children with love and teaching them fear of God makes so much sense if training your children to walk in holiness. Very wise words.
I look forward to reading your discussions on spanking!
I am learning that discipline must always be accompanied by intentional instruction – that seeks to inform and inspire inner spiritual growth.
Oh My goodness I love this! Thank you for sharing! I love how your talking about how boundaries shape your children and teach them as they grow how to walk in God’s truths!
Great ideas! My children are still very young and I have the feeling that media is much less used here in Europe still (but it is becoming more and more every day), however, all your ideas come on my list for doing as soon as I need it!
Computer in the kitchen is a great idea for now already to see that they are really on the right pages and not start to zapp around.
I found another great idea when we were on vacation recently: The W-LAN (WiFi) was turned down automatically from 10pm until 8am. They had a time switch installed as they said it is much healthier to sleep without all the electric smog. I am planning to do that for our home, too – just not starting on 10pm already (there would never be a new blog post written anymore, lol).
So this is not just a good idea for parenting but for getting boundaries for ourselfes, too and for our health as well…
Have a wonderful day! Greetings from Germany
I highly encourage parents not to have the internet available on computers without having some sort of internet filter. We have used K9 web protection, but there are many others out there as well. (K9 is free for individuals/families.) There are many settings that you can customize, including completely blocking internet access for a block of time every day. On one of our laptop computers that is not password protected, I have all of the hours blocked on K9 so that a child has to get me to sign them in to the internet, and I only approve a certain limited amount of time. At the least, the internet is a huge time waster (as we all know!). At worst, it is a total sewer for the mind. We are deceiving ourselves if we feel we can give our children complete freedom on the internet and not have it have severe repercussions in their lives. Thanks for initiating the discussion on this, Courtney!
These are great suggestions! Once thing I have been frustrated with is how difficult it is to totally block channelsfrom cable and satellite television. You can block them fairly easily, it is complicated to block themfrom the channel guide, and it is almost impossible to block them from appearing when you search for shows by title. And there are many titles with words I do not want my eyes, my husband, or my children to see! At the very least the pornographic channels should be easier to remove. It infuriates me if you can’t tell!
Thanks for this post.
I think the most important thing we can do is set good examples for our children. We must search our own hearts and see where we might be allowing media to be used incorrectly because our children learn so much from us.
Our pastor has a saying he uses…”whatever we do in moderation, our children will do in excess” and if you look back to generations before…it is so true!
Have a blessed day!!
Sara, a good example of this is to look back at sleeve length: from gloves, to sleeves to wrists with out gloves, to 3/4 length sleeves, to elbow length, to in between shoulder and elbow, to shoulder, to strapless.
Looks good & sounds great..Consider it stolen..
I read recently that 94% of children will be exposed to p*rnography by the time they are 18 in Chrisitan homes (it’s 98% in non-christian homes), that number is certainly sobering enough to give me permission to snoop as a mother. Parents need to remember if the phone can connect to the internet their kids can acess p*rn and a host of other things we wouln’t want them to see. Don’t forget PSP’s, Wi’s, X-box’s, tablets, and e-readers. Anything with wi-fi even if your house isn’t a hot spot can access things you don’t want your children to see. If your kids want an e-reader get them one without wi-fi, none of the other one’s have parental controls at all! And believe me there are plenty of free books about s*x and perversions out their they don’t even need a credit card to get because they’re FREE. As far as phones and video game systems go, they do have blocking codes you can program. These however are easily over-ridden by resetting the system, so regular snooping is in order to make sure things aren’t back to the default passwords. As far as phones go, you can block the ability to view the internet entirely, (or with iphones get a filter). You might also consider blocking the picture programs as well, considering most teens have either sent or recieved a sext.
“My kids would never do that.” 94% says you’re wrong. I work with teens at church and my husband and I can tell when each of them get into things they shouldn’t be, it’s obvious by the fruit they’re bearing in their life. My parents had very real boundaries for all things media with my sister and I growing up and we NEVER were exposed to p*rnography, but that was because of my parents, not us. My husband however was not so lucky, not only was he exposed to p*rn at a very early age (8) but it literally became his drug of choice for OVER A DECADE. All of it could have been stopped with a filtering software and parental snooping. They could have stopped things in it’s tracks before it got a hold on his life, but it became a real battle, a real struggle that NO ONE would ever want their children to go through. (Don’t even get me started on the scars it’s brought into our marriage)
So snoop, password protect and deal with the eye rolls, because it will be well worth it!
(I linked up a review yesterday on a fabulous book about this topic, I would higly reccomend Plugged In Parenting to anyone who wants more information)
“2. Prepare to be unpopular with your child” While scanning this post, this stuck out to me as my daughter just turned 13 on Sunday. She is quite certain that she’s the only 13 year old on the planet without a cell phone. Her Dad and I are also extremely unpopular in that will not let her have a facebook page yet. I was almost ready to cave to the facebook thing and plead on her behalf with Dad, but then right before, I had two Moms who say they very much regreted letting their kids get a fb page so early. Those Moms got me back on track and reminded me why we were waiting to let her have one! But it does make us extremely unpopular with our daughter!
Absolutely wonderful!! I just was able to set my computer up to where there are are times that my boys can’t be on the computer and they have time limits on the amount of time they have (which eliminates the “nagging” I have to do to get them off it). I catch ALOT of flack for a lot of the limits I have for the things my boys (5 and 2) are exposed to. The biggest critic is my own mother (who also lives with us) she is constantly questioning and commenting on everything.
I really enjoyed reading this post. I had parents that were so loving and kind; but also there were rules. I have tried to tell my grandchildren that when you obey the rules and you gain their trust all of a sudden you actually have more freedom. However, from vast experience in raising children this doesn’t happen very often. Children, especially teenagers just don’t get it. Obedience =trust = more freedom.
Thanks for the great thoughts and ideas.
Blessings to you!
You said, “From a young age my parents taught me how to have a quiet time”. How did they teach you this? What do you do in your quiet time?
My mom used the method that we teach and use on my sister site http://www.goodmorninggirls.org We used the SOAP method. Mom gave me a scripture passage to read for the day and a journal and this is what I wrote:
S – Scripture
O – Observations
A – Applications
P – Prayers
I still have this journal from 4th grade 🙂 Plus the verses she had me memorizing etc. Maybe I”ll write a longer blog post about this sometime. Thanks for asking.
Courtney, I am so with you on this. I teach in a public high school. and it saddens me to see what many young people are being exposed to through the media. It also saddens me how much time they spend “Tuned in” to media, and tuned out to the world around them. A big THANK YOU to you and all parents who set loving boundaries on your children and their use of media.
Those are some great ideas – something that my husband and I have discussed numerous times to make sure our standards are the same… I only have one question – would it not be almost too easy for a teen to simply erase the texts or call logs that they don’t want their parents to know (I mean if they know we’re watching and they are determined to hide – they’ll find a way, right?)
We have to know our children. We have to be listening and paying attention all the time. If we have a sneaky child – then the rules will have to be stiffer – ie. no phone at all. If we have a child with a sensitive conscience, who is honest, reading God’s word, has good friends etc. then there can be more freedom. At the end of the day – yes, if a child wants to get extra sneaky they could. If we suspect sneaking – pray that they get caught and what is done in darkness is brought to the light. Eventually, the truth comes out. 🙁
Thank you for this post! These are all such great ideas. My kids are young,but I’m already running into media and electronic obsession with my five year old. I set a timer for her when she plays video games. usually just a half hour. I do appreciate the encouragement that I’m doing the right thing, because sometimes I feel like I’m being too strict.
Also, I love the idea of letting my kids know that I WILL be snooping. It’s not really snooping if they know I’m doing it. It’s accountability.
Thanks for the great ideas!
Thanks for sharing! There was a lot of helpful advice in there. Especially, love how to handle the different technology boundaries. The cell phone in the kitchen is a great one, even for us adults!
Fun Educational webpage, i wish i had this when i was at University.
Courtney, I really loved this post. Such great advice for us parents on this subject and i love love love how you always tie in biblical principals with your post. thank you for linking this one up at the brighton park blog’s best of 2011 end of the year link up and i plan to share this one on my fb page in the coming weeks. You and your writing have become such a blessing to me.