one of the challenging aspects of parenting is teaching kids to think critically about the messages preached by American media. now, i'm not the kind of guy that can sit down and just consume a tv show, movie or even a commercial just for entertainment's sake. and i'll make a case that this is a good thing. :)
but how to help the kids? that's another story...and a very important one because without the ability to be "media literate" our kids will not be able to appropriately interact with philosophies that could be harmful.
last week, linda was reading a book to david that was obviously proclaiming a different belief-system than the one we believe and live in our household. here is an excerpt:
Deep in the woods, by the mossy pond edge,
a little duck asks,
"Do you love me, Mama?"
And Mama Duck says,
"Yes little one,
I love you as the pond loves you,
wide and calm beneath you,
giving you food and places to swim.
I love you as the pond loves you,
forever and ever and always."
the book compares the mother's love to several different things in nature, ending with the stars. as a follower of jesus, i don't believe that nature can love. nature doesn't have personality. the Creator God who made nature can and does love. now instead of throwing the book aside or just not saying anything at all, linda made it a fun game:
Linda - "Can a pond love you?"
David - "Nooo...." and on the next page,
Linda "Can the stars love you?"
David - (louder) "Nooooooo!"
and i think david is on a path to being media literate.
similarly, i think i've ruined our oldest son forever by teaching him to "spot the lie" in commercials. especially during football games, i like to ask "what does this commercial want us to believe?" oh, it's such a fun question to ask!
one day, i was not paying attention to the tv and caleb blurted out, "dad, that commercial said that all we need is love and that's not right. all we need is god." (it was a car commercial!)
those are some of the things that we are doing to help our kids interact with media. what other ideas have you tried? what are principles you want your kids to have in their connection with today's media?
Sunday, March 28, 2010
before we had kids, a co-worker of ours from michigan said that they only let their kids have 1 hour total of "screen time" per day. screen time was anything that involves a screen....TV, videos, video games, hand-held games, computer (not for education of course), etc.
radical, eh? considering most kids today watch four hours of TV alone per day. that doesn't include the other Screens.
linda and the kids just finished reading the book, charlie and the chocolate factory by ronald dahl. the oompa-loompas sing an insighful farewell song as mike teavee is taken away to be stretched back to size. they sing....
"The most important thing we've learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, Never, NEVER let
Them near your television set -
Or better still, just don't install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we've been,
We've watched them gaping at the screen,
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out...
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don't climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink -
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
IT ROTS THE SENSES IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND
HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND
A FANTASY, A FAIRLYLAND!
HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!
HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!
HE CANNOT THINK - HE ONLY SEES!
this was written back in the 70s and most of the current generations only know life with hours of Screen time a day. another way is not even imaginable.
now, don't get me wrong...i know EXACTLY how difficult it is to not use Screens as babysitters. if Screen time is lessened, parents have to replace it with more time spent, instruction (a.k.a., discipline), and coaching (on finding things to do). Screen-time-as-parent-and-friend is deeply entrenched in a whole life system that we have grown up with in America. To suddenly stop using the Screens is extremely difficult...especially if you are a single parent or practically so.
we do go by the 1 hour of Screen time a day guideline...it's just a guideline. sometimes there is no Screen time...some days have much more.
i believe that the sacrifice will be worth it in the long run...and i keep telling myself that when i have a long list of things i'd like to do and i just can't fit it all in! :)
but according to the oompa-loompas, we're on the right track.