What Are Your Kids Watching?

Chances are your kids receive more messages from the mass media than they do from you.
by Steve Thomas | Source: Catholic.net

As a parent of 8 living children, I was floored the other day when I read a fresh statistic by Solutions Research Group.  They state that consumers aged 12 and older will spend an average of 6.1 hours A day on video based entertainment.  6.1 hours a day…let’s see, most kids that age sleep at least 10 hours, and that leaves 7.9 hours for what?  This takes into account the Internet, iPods, with the lion share still going toward TV.  Two questions come to mind when I read this statistic; the first, “what the heck are kids doing spending so much time on their behinds watching TV, Internet, or whatever”…(it can’t be good for them).   I’ll provide some cannon fire for this later, to prove my point.  The second question that comes to mind is; “What are kids watching?”  What are they taking in?  A health website (not endorsing), Mercola.com, says, when you watch TV your brain enters an “alpha level,” a mode where your mind is most receptive to ideas, while least prepared to think critically.  So the question begs, “What is forming our children?” 

I can give you study after study, from a plethora of groups, organizations, foundations, and all will tell you that too much visual media is not good…or, let me re-phrase that, too much visual media with negative messages is not good.  Here are some statistics that back that up: 

• TV Free America’s:  The number of violent acts your child will see by the age of 18 is 200,000.
• TV Free America’s:  The number of murders your child will see before leaving elementary school is 8000.
• Kaiser Foundation:  70% of all shows (discounting the news and children’s shows) include some type of sexual content.
•  Kaiser Foundation:  The average number of sexual scenes per hour is 5.0.
• American Academy of Pediatrics: Children watch TV on the Avg., 4.0 hours a day, and are experiencing obesity on a large scale.

I could go on with other statistics that talk about Cancer, Autism, Alcohol & Drug Abuse, ADDS, Violent Behavior, Sexual Promiscuity, lowering in educational standards, and the list goes on…and on.  One thing that has not gotten much press is the question “what kind of an impact does positive media have?”   I can tell you first hand, as parents, my wife and I have always invested on a large scale toward positive visual media.  We have amassed a large collection of DVD’s, and we have shared these throughout the years with family and friends.  

We have gotten such positive feedback, that we have decided to go commercial with our efforts.  Back in December of 2007 we started an online movie rental company, Faith and Family Flix, that specializes in entertainment that is family friendly (like Netflix, but no garbage).  We also offer a large selection of faith-based movies (many with a Catholic flavor), and the meat and potatoes are the classics that most of us baby-boomers grew up with; as well as a large animated selection for children.  My wife Ginny is instrumental in critiquing most movies; especially aware of any immodesty.  “People are so concerned these days with what they take into their bodies, and they give so little energy or thought into what they take into their hearts or souls,” Ginny says, “You are what you eat.”  

I have to share a little exercise my wife and I would give to engaged couples (we worked in marriage prep through our diocese for a number of years).  Ginny made the best chocolate chip cookies in the world, and I would pass them out, still warm, to the couples as we were getting started.  As they were chomping away, loving the cookies, I would explain how my daughter had walked in with a distressed look on her face claiming she had inadvertently stepped into a pile of dog poop.  I hurriedly said she should clean it off, and I happened to glance over a moment later to see her going at the bottom of her shoe with a knife from the drawer.  I noticed, cascading; as if in slow motion, a tiny little piece from the bottom of her shoe gracefully landing in the bowl of cookie dough.  With horror, I scooped out the area where it went in; I would explain that I was pretty sure I got it all out.”  Well, needless to say, about now, everyone ceased chewing; some would actually spit out what was in their mouth in a mild state of shock, and I would exclaim I just made up the story to prove a point of how sensitive we were to what went into our bodies, and how we should be as vigilant to what went into our hearts and souls.  Even though I said I made the story up, people still stayed away from the cookiesƒº  This speaks volumes about the disconnect between body and soul, and how materialism has affected our perceptions. 

The other company we formed is called Faith and Family Movies. What we wanted to do here was to put together collections of movies that every family should have, and give them deep discounts.  How many of us grew up watching “Family Classics” on Sunday afternoon with Frazier Thomas? Well, many of these movies are either no longer available, or hard to get.   Ginny and I have put together our own list of “Family Classics,” and we really think you will love it.  Also included are other collections with specific themes: Catholic Heroes, Animal Lovers, Romance, Sports, to name a few, and these categories are 20% off of retail prices.

In conclusion, one noted Catholic writer compared the TV in our home to a giant sewer pipe that pumps continuous waste into our homes…well; it doesn’t have to be that way.  I believe what we offer would pass even your highest standards, so go ahead, give us a try!

You can email Steve or Ginny at:

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