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Chairman, Christian Film & Television Commission
Author of numerous books, including latest (co-authored with Pat Boone) The Culture-Wise Family (Regal Books, 2007)
J.D., New York University; B.A., Comparative Literature, Dartmouth College
CBN.com The MovieGuide® creator offers practical tools to help protect families from toxic cultural messages.
Every day as we watch television, read the newspaper, see a movie, or listen to music, we are bombarded with messages, some of them overt, some of them subtle. Yet how often do we stop and think about what we are watching and listening to?
Ted says it is time we begin paying attention to our mass media consumption. We must make wise choices for ourselves and our families and protect our children. They must learn to use the media for entertainment, information, and education without being conformed and addicted to it.
When Ted steps off a plane in his worldwide travels, he finds Hollywood movies, TV shows, and satellite dishes in jungle highlands. Children the world over try to dress like the Hollywood stars they idolize and try to mimic their lives – including the smoking, drinking, and sexual promiscuity. What happens in Hollywood does not stay in Hollywood. What Lindsay Lohan wears, Justin Timberlake sings, and George Clooney articulates ripples their way to the heartland of America and well beyond.
Ted gives five pillars of media wisdom to help build a culture-wise family. These include the following:
1. Understand the influence of the media on your family. After Columbine, CBS President Leslie Moonves bluntly said, “Anyone who thinks the media has nothing to do with this is an idiot.” As the results of thousands of studies on youth violence prove, watching media violence causes violence among children. “Bad company corrupts good character” (1 Cor. 15:33).
2. Ascertain your children’s susceptibility at each stage of cognitive development. Different children are susceptible to different stimuli – some children want to copy media violence; some become afraid; and many become desensitized.
3. Teach your children how the media communicates its message. Just as kids learn grammar with respect to the written word, they also need to be taught the grammar of 21st century mass media so they can think critically about the messages being programmed for them.
4. Help your children know the fundamentals of the Christian faith. Children need to be taught the fundamentals of the Christian faith so they can apply their beliefs and moral values to the culture and mass media of entertainment.
5. Help your children learn how to ask the right questions.
Ted says media literacy means teaching your children how to identify the elements that construct the messages and helps them determine what the messages means to them. As children review and critique what they see and hear, they learn to choose appropriate movies, TV, games, music, etc.
Teaching children how to uncover a movie’s message includes ascertainment, discernment, and reflection:
For ascertainment, ask your child the following: Who were the hero and the villain? What makes them worth rooting for or against? What motivates the hero and villain and how do they face their problems? What was gained at the end of the story?
For discernment, ask your child the following: Was the hero someone you can trust? Were the rules fair and was there accountability for keeping them? Is the hero’s behavior realistic? Are the consequences fair? Was there anything that would be embarrassing to share with family or authority figures? Is respect shown to all people?
And for reflection, ask your child the following: Were the characters good or bad examples to follow? Would you be comfortable living in the hero’s environment? Were actions properly rewarded or punished? Would you do what the hero did? How did the actions affect important relationships such as family, friends, and God? Was sexual behavior modest and dignified? Was any violence necessary for solving a problem? Was the language appropriate? Was the hero’s success or failure important?
Good summary questions are these: What was your favorite part? Who was your favorite character? Did good stand against evil? Who would you like to be in the story? What could change the way you feel about the ending?
A caring friend will be there to pray with you in your time of need.