For better or worse, media has a powerful influence in our kids' lives! Today's media sends nonstop communication, delivering its voice through television, movies, Internet, music, magazines, books, computers, smartphones, tablets, and more. Frankly, it is impossible for parents to have control over every message that is being sent to our kids.
Because parents can't control all of their kids' media consumption, some feel lost, hopeless, or paralyzed when facing today's technology and media. We may complain, but it is time for us to quit whining, and do something. Don't give up. Don't bail out. There are things we can do and environments we can foster to create a media-safe home.
Watch, Listen, and Read. Creating a media-safe home requires that you become a student of the culture. The easiest way to get a handle on what media your kids are consuming is to watch what they watch, listen to what they listen to, and read what they read. Look for every opportunity to ask and learn from your kids.
Evaluate. Evaluate everything you see and hear with your kids. When you evaluate, don't just play the bad-guy role. At times, this will likely be necessary, but also tell your kids what you like and why, and help them learn to discern what they are putting into their minds.
Examine Your Own Behavior. Too many parents want their kids to make good media choices but aren't willing to discipline themselves. Remember the old adage: Children see, children do. Set the example you want your kids to follow.
Discuss and Listen; Don't Lecture. Anytime we can truly dialog with our kids about media use and influence, it is better than any lecture or sermon we could ever deliver to them. Ultimately, you may choose to disagree with your kids' opinions but they will at least feel you were willing to listen.
Develop Clear Expectations. Work together with your teens to come up with clearly expressed expectations about media consumption and use of the devices that deliver media. As technology changes rapidly, you'll need to revisit the expectations from time to time to keep them relevant and current.