All technology is not created equal for your children.
Playing a video game rated for everyone is a lot different than a video game intended for mature audiences (17+).
Listening to an audio version of the Bible is much different from watching what’s most popular on Netflix.
Yes, it’s important to limit the amount of time your child spends with screens, but perhaps it’s even more important to consider what your kids are plugged into. What are they watching? What are they allowing to take space in their minds and hearts?
The television of yesteryear allowed parents to easily see what was being watched by the family. But now, kids can watch shows on something as tiny as a smartphone. In this age of technology, parents must be proactive and prayerful to learn what programs are being watched by their kids.
When your child has access to a television or the Internet, a whole world of inappropriate content is waiting to be consumed. I have watched previews for PG-13 movies and have been shocked by the violence or sexuality. I’m thinking, “If I’m in my forties and I’m scared to watch that, what in the world is a tween watching these movies?”
When you are deciding what kind of content is appropriate for your child to watch, there are general guidelines every family can use. Here are four questions you can ask to decide whether or not it is wise for your child to view a particular show, movie, or video game:
What factual data is my child learning from this program? If there is factual data, is it correct? You want your child’s mind to be filled with truth. If the program communicates a distorted vision of reality instead of how life works in the real world, you don’t want your child watching. You want your child to be exposed to things that are true, not false.
What kind of character traits is this program seeking to build in my child? Is the main character someone I want my child to copy? If the humor comes from cutting others down, being rude, or showing disrespect to authority, that’s a red light. Positive programs will teach your child to care for others, respect authority, work hard, resolve conflict, or overcome obstacles.
How does this program treat family members? Television sitcoms often degrade men and fathers by making them lazy, fat, or stupid. What messages are your child hearing about men, women, marriage and parents? How is the family represented?
Is this program consistent with our family values? A child is running into all sorts of values during his or her early years. You can’t control what your child sees outside of the home at school or other places, but you can control what they are exposed to during screen time at home. What is viewed on screens should be in keeping with your family values, or it should be off limits.
The children of Israel got into trouble because they allowed their pagan neighbors to influence them, not the other way around. They tolerated the culture around them and eventually accepted it as normal. Ultimately, they imitated the pagan cultures by serving other gods.
Like the ancient children of Israel, we live in a culture that runs against the morals and values of the Bible. It’s time for us as parents to rise and take responsibility for what our children are watching. When your kids are grown, they can choose what they want to watch. But while they are living under your roof, you have the final say in what they are allowed to plug into.
Earlier I wrote that parents had to be prayerful about what is being watched by our kids. Although we cannot monitor our children 24/7, we know that God neither slumbers or sleeps. He is always watching over your child. You can ask the Holy Spirit to nudge you when you need to intervene in your child’s television or video game choices. You can ask for divine help to correct your child if he or she is doing watching harmful.
All technology is not created equal and with God’s help, you can help your child navigate wisely through it.
Arlene Pellicane is a speaker and author of several books including Calm, Cool, and Connected: 5 Digital Habits for a More Balanced Life and Parents Rising: 8 Strategies for Raising Kids Who Love God, Respect Authority, and Value What’s Right. Learn more at ArlenePellicane.com.