“Parents can sometimes feel trampled by the stampede of tablets and smartphones and overwhelmed by the accessibility of media on the Internet. It’s true that media and technology can be dangerous when left to run unchecked in our families; however, like wild horses, when tamed they can become valuable tools—tools our children can use to become a strong influence for good in the world.”
That’s a paragraph from the excellent article “Taming the Media” in the August issue of the Ensign. Below are summarized ideas from that article.
Children’s use of media and technology
One parent comments as follows: “We purchased a tablet for the family to use for educational benefits, but we quickly realized that we hadn’t given enough thought about how to regulate what games our kids could play and for how long. We came to the conclusion that our children were just too young to have so much access to this device, because we preferred to see them playing outside after school and we didn’t like where the road of ‘gaming’ might lead them. However, we were worried about how our eight-year-old son would react to a rule change.”
Sister Linda S. Reeves has taught that “the greatest filter in the world, the only one that will ultimately work, is the personal internal filter that comes from a deep and abiding testimony of our Heavenly Father’s love and our Savior’s atoning sacrifice for each one of us.” (See “Protection from Pornography—a Christ-Focused Home.”)
Making a family plan
Understand good media standards, learn to follow the Spirit, formulate a plan for good media use, and consistently emphasize excellent content in media choices.
Understanding media standards
- Read “The Choice Generation” by Brother Randall L. Ridd.
- Read the principles in “Entertainment and Media” in For the Strength of Youth
- Study the words of the thirteenth article of faith: “If there is anything virtuous, lovely, of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”
Following the Spirit
“The Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil” (Moroni 7:16). Help children pay attention to how they feel when they watch, listen to, or read something.
Online help and safety tips
- Websites like kidsinmind.com, commonsensemedia.org, and ok.com have content reviews of movies, TV shows, and video games
- Google and YouTube have safe-search options that you can use and teach to your children.
- Many popular websites have filter options. For example, Pandora has a filter to block songs with strong profanity and Facebook lets you label ads and posts as offensive.
Movies, TV shows, books, music
- Check the rating and content of movies and other media.
- Establish family standards, such as not using media that is violent, immoral, vulgar, or degrading.
- Discuss as a family which TV shows and movies are appropriate, and then turn on the TV only for those programs.
Internet, computers, mobile devices
- Discuss together the location of computers in the house and when and where it is appropriate to use mobile devices.
- Decide on guidelines for mobile devices, such as what kinds of apps are appropriate and what media use is appropriate.
- Establish Internet rules such as which websites are appropriate
Time and technology management
- Decide how much time can be spent on the Internet, playing electronic games, or watching TV or movies.
- Decide what media and technology use is appropriate for Sundays, both at church and at home. For example, Elder M. Russell Ballard has suggested putting phones and tablets in airplane mode during church so that digital scriptures may still be used without the distraction of incoming messages.
- Decide what media and technology use is appropriate when you are with other people.
Responding to problems
- Decide how to respond when you or your children come across something inappropriate in your media use. What will you do? Whom will children tell? Whom will parents tell? What measures will you take to avoid such material in the future?
Emphasizing the excellent
Bring good media into your home to help your children avoid the bad.
- Visit the Church websites with your children and watch Church videos together.
- Take advantage of the free music downloads on youth.lds.org.
- Talk about good books you’ve read and seek uplifting music and movies.
- Encourage your children to make positive uses of their time on the Internet.
The Lord will bless us as we help our children make good media choices and as we seek to bring uplifting media into our homes. Not only will we feel the satisfaction of knowing that our families are making good media choices, but more important, we will be giving our children the opportunity to feel the Spirit more strongly in our homes.