Millions of Americans let the technology “babysit” their children for large portions of the day.  Even at 11 o’clock at night, long after cartoons and family shows have ended, an estimated 12 million children under age 10 are still on computers.  These hours have an enormous influence on our children.  Studies have shown that the media exercises the greatest formative influence on viewers who have not yet formed strong personal values.  As adults with Christian principles, we have some protection from media influence, but the minds of young children are wide open.  We need to be cautious.

Consider just the impact of the over 25,000 commercials an average American preschooler sees in one year.  This advertising not only sells specific products, it also teaches children a way of life centered on buying and selling and many times it puts forth values that are directly contrary to our Christian belief.

Given the impact of computers, it is essential to control both the programs’ children watch and the amount of time they spend at a computer or iPad.  The parents, not the children, should control computer time. Parents must be examples for their children in this area.

The most effective way for parents to control media in the home is to exercise their role in directing and leading the family.  Too often we let the networks and computer schedule our lives rather than taking the initiative to plan the best use of the family time. 

The highest priority for a Christian family, next to their prayer life and active worship of God, is “loving communication.”  We can’t hope that good communication will just happen.  We must plan for it and then draw it out.  Mealtimes, sharing sessions, trips and other family experiences provide the groundwork for meaningful dialogue.  These are the seeds of lasting memories which a child will carry throughout his or her life.

Yet the media are not devoid of positive influences.  We must learn and teach our children how to sort out the positive influences from the rest.  We must become aware of the effects of the media and learn to discern influences that could damage our families.  Children must learn the reasons behind our restrictions on the media so that they are prepared to make their own decisions in situations we don’t control.

Media can be used for good or ill.  It can, for example, be a powerful means of spreading the gospel, like EWTN.  But in its secular forms, it often fills our minds with poisons.  We must learn and teach the children that the media and internet must be used with discretion.  What about you and your family? What are the children learning from the media in your home? It may affect the rest of their lives!!