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Helping Students (And Parents) Evaluate And Navigate What They Watch And Listen To

Helping Students (And Parents) Evaluate And Navigate What They Watch And Listen To

I confess I didn’t even know when MTV’s Video Music Awards were on. It wasn’t until the next, day when I saw social media blow up with responses, that it was even on my radar. I saw a slew of people, from different walks of life and belief systems, discussing how our moral compass has gone south. I found my husband’s response interesting: “Why are we shocked? This particular awards show is always trying to show us the under belly of culture.”)

As I processed what I read, it occurred to me that we don’t have to simply sit around and be saddened about the depths that culture has reached.

We can (we must) teach our students how to evaluate and navigate culture.

They don’t have to passively accept everything they see on their screens. We can help them (and their parents) know how to rightly engage with culture, and possibly be the force that changes culture. Here’s how:

Come To Know Your Personal Media Philosophy

Before you can talk to students about their media habits, you need to know where you stand on what you are watching and listening to. Here’s what I mean. My hubby and I are sensitive to what we see and hear. For us, we model a pretty strict guideline of what we watch or listen to. We’re not as strict as some. And we’re stricter than others. The point is that we are intentional about what we will watch, or listen to, and why. So what’s your philosophy?

Be honest with yourself. Then, you can start to talk to your students from the standpoint of, “This is how the Lord has convicted me on this topic.”

It’s Less About Saying, “Don’t,” and More About Saying, “Wait.”

Most of your students have parents who will put up boundaries on what they can and can’t see (or hear). You (the youth worker) will make smart judgments on what you see together as a group. But telling a student not to listen to or watch something won’t stop them from doing it. Work with parents to teach students how to navigate these decisions. What they allow to get into their head matters, a lot. Let’s teach our students to wait a moment before they see the show, listen to the song, or watch the video. Teach them to stop and ask themselves where this will pull their heart: does this draw them closer to God? Does it lead them farther away? Help them learn to navigate the world that’s out there.

You Can Turn It Off

Students intrinsically don’t want to feel left out. They turn on the VMA’s because they assume everyone will be talking about it the next day. They learn the lyrics to the latest songs for the same reasons. I try to help remind parents and students alike that there is always an OFF button. If they stumble onto a video or show or lyric that makes their stomach churn, teach them how to walk away. Using the off button when the Holy Spirit is nudging you to do so is a vital skill.

We will always have students around us whose parents prohibit much of what they watch, and others whose parents don’t seem to mind what they see at all. We need to remember that what we watch matters. Philippians 4:8 truly helps us navigate this perfectly:

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”

When we allow Christ to speak to us about what we could, should, or are watching, He’ll help us to say “yes” and “no.” Let’s commit to helping our students have the same awareness and openness to God’s leading.
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