This series is sponsored by my absolute favorite homeschool organizing tool…Scholaric Planner. Scholaric makes my planning life a breeze!
There’s no escaping it – the monster which is the Media. Our kids are growing up in a time when it is ‘the norm’ to be completely consumed by all things pop-culture. In fact, if you aren’t consumed or you outright choose to unplug, you’re really, really weird. Trust me, I know from experience.
As someone who grew up longing to have a job in the media industry – it’s a little funny how things have turned out. After nearly seven years of studying and training to be a producer/director of television, I chose to toss my TV for good and never looked back.
Now that my husband and I are raising three children and educating them at home, we are even more aware of the media that comes into our home and ultimately, into our hearts.
One of the wonderful benefits of homeschooling is the simple fact that our children are, well, home. However, because they are home so much more than traditionally schooled children, I believe homeschool parents need to be that much more proactive about their relationship with the Media. With children home, the temptation can be to allow more, less supervised screen time.
It is vitally important that as parents, we’re very aware of how much and what kind of media our children are consuming. The media has the power to influence our children’s hearts, minds, and spirits. Whether it is good or bad lies in how we discern and how we control our media choices.
I’m hoping I can share some insight that might inspire other parents to really focus on minding our media. Here are some of my tips for teaching wisdom in our children’s media choices:
Keep an open line of communication about media and be deliberate about discussing media-related topics.
As our children grow, I’m realizing the importance of talking to our children about our media choices. Now that our eldest is 8, he’s starting to see the difference between our family and many others. We talk openly with our kids about why we choose to not have video games and television. They understand why we make the decisions we do, and you know what? They actually agree! Even our six-year-old can grasp the importance of being cautious about what we watch.
As parents, it’s our responsibility to help our children understand the importance of taking control of our media habits. This is all part of the discernment process. We live in a world that would love to suck us right into a pop-culture frenzy. Helping children decode things like advertising, product marketing (done so often with children’s movies), and corporate manipulation (like with certain ‘food’ products) is an invaluable life skill.
We can also take the time to openly discuss what is and is not appropriate to watch, listen to, read, etc. based upon our family’s values and faith base. I find this is one topic that is rarely discussed among parents and children alike. The main reason being, that so many people underestimate the importance of limiting media intake and understanding the impact that media can have on our hearts.
If we can instill this understanding into our children at a young age, not only will they grow to make their own wise media choices, they will also be protected from the destructive influence on negative media on their lives.
Limit screen time.
Even if we’re teaching our children to make wise media choices, we have to realize that they are kids. They lack the ability to understand (in many cases) what a healthy amount of media really means. It’s up to us to limit the screen time FOR them. This is two fold. First, we have to be limiting our OWN screen time so that we can model positive media behavior for them. Secondly, we need to make clear boundaries without our family as to how much screen time is acceptable and why.
When children have limited screen time, they will accept it. Our children are permitted about 15 minutes of screen time on an average day. They are compliant and content with this amount. Because they are not consumed by screens, they find many other things to do and are highly imaginative and active. Children will replace the screen with something better.
Toss the TV.
No one needs a TV. In my humble opinion, f you have one, you should do everything you can to get rid of it, honestly. Why? Because, a television has no other purpose than to entertain. So much of what comes through the TV is destructive and largely uncontrolled by the viewer. TV is way too much of a wide open window to garbage coming into the home.
Keep all media devices public and pass-worded.
This point kind of explains itself, but let me expand slightly. I feel it’s incredibly important that we, as parents, take the responsibility to protect our children in every way possible. This includes what they could be exposed to through the media and through the internet. So many parents need to wake up to the reality of what is truly out there. The media can be a pretty scary place for kids, especially if we are serious about protecting our child’s heart.
For this reason, we’ve chosen to keep our computer and any other devices we use (cell phone) completely pass-worded. That means, without us there, our children have no access to the screens. We’ve also decided to keep all our media public, meaning, in a common area like the kitchen or living room. This isn’t as much of an issue with young children but we want to establish this as a family habit so as our children grow it is simple the norm.
Encourage a passion for real, meaningful life experiences.
Children who live a full life alongside their families will never feel like they’re missing out on more media time. When we actively pursue living life to the fullest, our days become about DOING instead of WATCHING. Children are being shaped and molded in their formative years – what they establish as important will follow them into adulthood. If media plays a very small role in their childhood, it will likely play less of a role in their life as they grow. Let’s encourage our children (and ourselves!) to be focused on being active, reaching out to others, learning new things, pursuing beauty in nature, and experiencing real life.
The more our children engage in the real world around them, the more they will realize how much this beautiful earth has to offer. The more their life has meaning outside of the screen, the less they will care to be consumed by media. And finally, the less we are consumed by media – the more abundant, purposeful lives we can all live… now that’s something worth striving for!
For more posts about media, homeschooling, and family life, please, visit my blog, www.theunpluggedfamily.com!