One of the most important things we can do for our children is to guard them against the influences of the media. As I say this I realize that not all media will have a negative affect on children. In no way am I saying that we should cut our children completely off from the media in general. Yet it is important that we are responsible about what we allow our children to watch, and that we teach them to make responsible choices as they grow older.
In all honesty, my husband and I are the most liberal among our friends in what we allow our children to watch. I feel that we are responsible about the choices that we make however. My husband always checks reviews to see why the film received a specific rating. We feel that it is important that we discuss any issues with our children about any movie. As they grow older we hope to have established a dialogue about how to make wise choices concerning the media that you allow into your life.
There are many different types of media that your children will be exposed to. Your child is going to read books, listen to music, watch television, play video games and go to the movies. It is virtually impossible to absolutely control every source of media that your child is exposed to. It is for that reason that you need to teach your children the types of things to avoid.
You can stress the importance of staying clean. You may want to point out that the negative media influences can make it harder for them to feel the spirit. You may want to encourage them to have the courage to stand up and leave the theater if a movie is not appropriate. My little brother did this when he was in high school, and half of his group followed him. I know it took courage, but the ones that followed him were relieved that someone had the courage to stand up first.
It is also important to realize that the rating system should not be determining if a movie is appropriate or not. Many people will automatically block out R-rated movies and say that all PG-13 movies are all right. When in reality many PG-13 movies are worse than some R-rated ones.
Additionally you should pay attention to the books your child is reading on his own or for school. I personally don’t believe in censorship, but I plan to read along with my children so that I can discuss the alternate viewpoints and opinions that they encounter in what they are reading and learning.
Similarly many parents will let their child play a video game that is T or M without much thought. They may not realize all the things that the video game is addressing and teaching. It is important to be aware of the games your child is playing.
The best thing you can do to help your child guard against negative media influences is to be aware of what they are watching, reading, playing and listening to. If you feel it is inappropriate it is important to express your concerns to your children. You may want to review the For the Strength of Youth standards set forth by the church.