Q&A: Shielding children from toxic media

Q: I’m extremely frustrated with the growing toxicity of the entertainment media, but short of moving to the Sahara Desert, I can’t completely shield my children from all of it.  What should I do?

A: The answer to this increasingly common dilemma lies in teaching them discernment – not imposing isolation. By taking this approach you’ll be teaching your children to think for themselves and equipping them to make smart choices long after they’ve left your nest. These ideas may be of help:

  1. Establish guidelines for your family. Although entertainment decisions can fall into a bit of a grey area, establish a family standard for making media decisions, not because your family need more rules, but because you don’t  want to leave the concept of making wise choices to mere chance. 
  2. Rely on credible sources for entertainment review. Check out potential media choices before your children make them.   
  3. Model wise choices. One of the surest ways to derail your young person’s media discernment is to behave hypocritically. Your words won’t be effective if you say one thing and do another. 
  4. When you can’t tune it out, try teaching. When your family encounters offensive media content, turn the incident into a “teachable moment.” Discuss what’s wrong with the message it conveys and use the opportunity to reinforce the principles of discernment.  
  5. Keep open communication lines. Talk often about the media with your children. When you have to say “no” to certain entertainment, help them find positive alternatives. Adopt a policy of accountability that allows all family members to read each other’s texts, tweets, social media posts, emails, web history, etc. Intentionality is the best way to turn your home into a place where good habits of media discernment are caught as well as taught.

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

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