Q&A: Establishing media boundaries for children

Q: I realise that I need to “be the parent” when it comes to setting boundaries for my children’s media and entertainment consumption. I’m guessing that they won’t be overjoyed with having rules and guidelines, but is there a strategy or an approach I can take that is more likely to be effective in getting them to “buy in”?

A: When establishing media standards, one point that’s particularly helpful for children to understand is that they’re not alone in needing to have boundaries in their lives. Discipline in all areas of life is healthy and necessary. In fact, when it comes to labelling entertainment as “acceptable” or “out-of-bounds,” almost all of us do it to varying degrees. With movies, for instance, parents may use the LPF ratings as their film-viewing boundary-marker. Others may contend that they have no boundaries at all, but the truth is, even these individuals have their limits.

Once your children realise that establishing boundaries is healthy and universal, then the natural question and discussion ensue of determining where to draw that line. We’re not a fan of relying on gut feelings or ratings as they are often misleading and untrustworthy from a discernment perspective. A better guideline is to ask, “Will I become a better person if I play this video game, listen to this song, or watch this TV show or movie?” “Will it inspire me? Will it encourage me to a life of greater virtue, sacrifice and service of others?” “Will it be of benefit to my ‘inner’ self, my thoughts, and my decision making?” If the answer is “no,” then help your children learn that this is where to set the boundary.

© 2018 Focus on the Family.  All rights reserved.  Used by permission.

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