Thursday, February 27, 2014

Managing Media

Not long ago I heard someone point out that this is the most difficult generation in which to raise kids.  The presenter said this was due to the fact that these days, we have so much information as parents as to what is best for our child.  For everything from screen time to vitamins, everyone has a recommendation for best practice and a study to back it up.

There is another reason parenting today is challenging in ways our parents and
grandparents didn't necessarily have to deal with.  We have access to so many things these days that were not even an option back then-- cell phones, tablets, portable DVD players and the like.  Back in the day, no one would have even dreamed of putting a TV in their child's bedroom because they were probably lucky if they had a color television for the whole family to share.  Because we do have access to all these things, as parents we need to be aware of how our kids are using them and intentional about setting boundaries related to their use.

There are definitely ways these devices can be used to encourage creativity and for educational purposes, but at the same time, we need to be careful that using these devices does not take the place of face to face interaction and quality time.  Teenagers right now are incredibly skilled at texting; but they also need to know how to hold a conversation or handle an arguement in person.

Right now, we don't pay for cable, not because we have a moral stance against it but because we needed to save that money for other things.  There are certainly times when having a TV would be nice, but at the same time, there are good things that have come from not having a TV to watch in our house.  The first is that our kids are not inundated with commercials.  The second is that I save myself from envy by not watching HGTV.  When I am not constantly comparing my house to beautiful, spacious, immaculately decorated ones, contentment and gratitude for what I have is much easier to cultivate.

With all this in mind, at our most recent Faith Families, we talked about Managing Media.  It wasn't a time to figure it all out, but it was a time to have a conversation about our media use as a family.  It was also a time to provide parents with some resources for navigating through this area of our lives, an area (like so many others) in which we need to set boundaries for our kids (i.e. no screens in the bedroom or no phones at the dinner table) and model the behavior we want to see ourselves.

Here is the activity each family did together:

1. Read Psalm 143:10- "Teach me to do your will, for you are my God!  Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground."
  • What does it mean to be on level ground?
  • How do you think God wants us to use media and technology?
2. Do a quick calculation of the number of media devices in your home...DVD players/recorders, video game players, tablets, cell phones, computers, etc.  
  • Which device do you use the most?
  • How can the media devices you have and use at home help you grow in faith?
  • How might the devices we have and use distract us from God?
  • How can our media devices help us grow closer as a family?
3. Draw a picture of your ideal day as a family.  Talk about your pictures as your family.
  • Who would be there?
  • What would you do?
  • Where would you be?
  • How would you be interacting with one another?
4. In many families, media segregates family members from each another.  Talk about  how your family can connect more through media devices or spend time doing media activities together.  For example...
  • Plan a family movie night and then discuss the movie together.
  • Set up a regular time to connect with long-distance relatives through Skype or Facetime.
  • Brainstorm other ideas of how media devices can bring you together as a family rather than pull you apart.
5. Choose one activity that you will do together within the next two weeks.

6. Pray together: God, thank you for our family.  Help us to recognize your presence in our lives and to honor you and each other in how we use and connect through media as a family.  In Jesus' name, amen.

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