Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Taylor Swift to Lady Gaga

Do you know what your kids are listening to?

Recently, I had a discussion with my Communications students at MBI about the ways media is influencing their lives. One constant topic is the way media has become convenient and all-consuming. Probably the majority of my students carry some sort of phone. Most of them own Ipods. They are constantly tuned in, plugged in, connected in some way to outside influences.

This even affects my daughter who is in middle school. While she is not yet allowed to have a cell phone – although she wants one – she does have an Ipod. So do most of the kids on her bus. On that Ipod she has about 200 songs. Most of those I have heard – probably there are some I have not.

Children in this generation have more access to private media than ever before. What do I mean by private? I mean media that they can access or listen to as individuals – apart from their families. They are making these choices independently – in the privacy of their own rooms – on their own computers.

As parents, especially as Christian parents, this makes our job increasingly difficult.

When I was in junior high and first getting interested in music, we bought record albums. To my daughter – this seems like ancient history – but to me it seems like only yesterday. The first album I really wanted – and was not allowed to buy – was by Billy Joel. My parents screened what I listened to and purchased – and they could do this easily. At that time – lyrics were printed on the album. My parents – after reading a few mildly controversial words in Joel’s lyrics, decided not to allow me to purchase the album.

Today’s parents have a more difficult task. The choices our children make are more difficult to track. More and more of our kids have access to media in their rooms or even in their pockets. They carry it with them. When my daughter downloads a song onto her mp3 player – it is easy for it to go straight from the computer to her ears – with little interference or knowledge on my part. It takes work for me to know what she is choosing.

One parent started taking away her daughter’s cell phone at night when she intercepted a sexual text from her daughter’s friend – a boy. While the two weren’t dating – she realized that the type of talk that was going on in private between friends, was crossing lines.

Our kids have computers in their rooms and on their laps – some have access to the internet on their phones. They are registering for facebook and other social networking sites when they are underage. They are posting pictures we would consider inappropriate.

Parents must resist the trend of just letting this happen. We need to be more vigilant now than ever before. We must be aware and involved in our children’s lives and be conscious of the choices they are making.

While I don’t always particularly enjoy my daughter’s taste in music, I find that it is a good idea to have her plug in her Ipod and let us all listen to it once in awhile. If the music is played for parents, it will most likely be chosen with that in mind.

Some parents have limited computer use to the family room – where a parent might be walking by at anytime. The parents of the teen who was “sexting” as it is called – began to keep the teen’s cell phone in their room after 9 pm.

This influx of media has brought many good things into our lives – but there are dangers, too. As parents, we must be always on guard, doing our job to help our children learn to filter what they hear.
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