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A word that I never really understood until I became a momma.
But now I understand that I need to be vigilant in everything when it comes to my kids. That’s especially true when it comes to their media exposure.
My husband and I closely monitor ALL of our children’s screen time. That includes tv shows, movies, video games, YouTube, social media (no they don’t have their own accounts at 6 and 2, but they do see what mom and dad are looking at), and even commercials.
Our goal is to make sure they are watching things that support our family’s Christian beliefs; simply put, things that we consider family friendly media.
Let me backtrack for a minute…
When my hubby, Big L, and I were younger we didn’t have our parents supervising what we were watching – and we turned out ok. I’m sure many of you are in the same boat. Back in our day the worst thing on tv was MTV and the major news networks (bringing real life violence right into our living rooms).
But times have drastically changed.
Now, our children have full access to the world outside of our safe little home – through a necessary evil called the internet.
Don’t worry, I’m not here to encourage you to stop using the internet, put some tin foil on your noggin, and join a convent… I just want to make sure we all remain vigilant in what we expose our children to.
Yes, there will be some backlash by my opinions in this post, but that’s okay. I’m simply sharing the way that we have decided to raise our children; to follow the ways of God and not the ways of man… even when His ways go against popular opinion.
Speaking of pop culture…
What exactly is pop culture anyways? Pop culture is basically a group of inside jokes and social events that shape each generation. An oversimplified explanation is that it is one big inside joke.
A few examples of pop culture references from my age group (people who are in their early 30s… yikes when did that happen?!):
- “You’re killin’ me Smalls” – The Sandlot
- *NSYNC and The Backstreet Boys – So. Many. Boy bands. Enough said…
- “Life is like a box of chocolates” – Forrest Gump
- Titanic everything – thank you Leonardo DiCaprio!
But now, just like so many other areas of our daily life (goodbye cable hello streaming tv!), the internet has changed the way we all experience pop culture. It’s no longer something we experience in our down time, on the weekends, and after school. It is in our faces all. day. long. It’s on our tv screens, tablets, computers, phones, and video games.
There definitely are so many educational and fun tv shows for kids to watch nowadays, but there are also a growing number of shows that push society’s political and social agendas. Such as same sex relationships, as well as overly violent and sexualized situations.
Because of this, our children do not have the freedom to mindlessly channel surf (like we used to do) in search of a program. Heck, we don’t even channel surf anymore, out of fear of accidentally seeing inappropriate scenes.
Instead, our kids have a set group of shows that they are allowed to watch (and even those are watched with mom and/or dad in the room).
Will they miss out on some of their generations pop culture references as they grow up?
I sure hope so.
Because I’ve seen today’s popular shows and movies, and most of them have things in them that I do not want my kids repeating… now or 20 years down the road.
~ Keep reading to see some of the shows that we avoid. ~
Often times the inappropriate situations are sneaky and can easily go unnoticed. It happens in the background or it’s slipped in with side characters/plots. A perfect example is with commercials. There have been more sneaky same sex couples and overly sexual references lately (including Plan B and sexual disorders). So much so my kids know to quickly cover their eyes and ears when we say “eyes” – even the 2 year old.
I have found a few things that have helped my family to navigate today’s pop culture and I want to share them with you:
- Limit your child’s screen time. Don’t fall into the temptation to allow a screen to be be your free babysitter. I know we’ve all been there, and there are times that those few precious moments of quiet for mom are much deserved. Just keep it minimal and reserved for special occasions. For us that perfect time is when we are driving 13+ hours in the car to visit Mamaw and Poppop!
- Limit exposure to outside influences. This is part of the reason we decided to homeschool. We want our family and close circle of friends to be the people that our children are influenced by. Then, once they have a strong foundation of faith and morals, they will better be able to navigate people and families with different values than ours.
- Watch shows WITH your kids – this helps limit screen time in general because mom can only take so much animation (my inner child yells at me as I type this). The only times I don’t do this is for DVDs that we have purchased and watched (10,000 times) already.
- Forget about FOMO (fear of missing out): In other words: don’t worry about missing out on today’s pop culture. Our (unintentional) solution to our kids missing out is that we’ve made our own inside jokes (as I’m sure your family has done too without even knowing it). We have little inside jokes that will stick with us as we grow old and bring back happy memories for both the kids and us. So, instead of pop culture, we have our own “Cerami” culture! Build on your family’s culture today!
As new parents we quickly discovered that not all kids programming was what we considered family friendly media. It used to be that PBS, Disney, and Nickelodeon were safe channels, with Cartoon Network being more off-color programming. But, over the course of the last two decades Nickelodeon has changed their standards, as well as PBS.
And now, Disney isn’t even “safe”.
This is to be expected, because society has changed so much in the last 20 years, why wouldn’t it bleed through into our media?
But hubby and I were still caught off guard when we were watching an episode of our daughter’s favorite cartoon (whose merchandise filled our home), and a family with same sex parents was featured.
We were appalled. So Big L and I got together and went over shows that were acceptable for the kids and some that were on the no-go list.
Here is a list of 10 children’s shows that are a no-go in our home (and why):
- Doc McStuffins Toy Hospital (Disney) – same sex parents in a 2017 Toy Hospital episode about emergency planning (Honestly, I do allow my kids to watch episodes up until the Toy Hospital seasons. The show’s agenda did not change until later that time.)
- Rosaline (Hulu) – lesbian fairy tale
- The Bravest Knight Who Ever Lived (Hulu) – the prince and boy get married
- Dot (PBS) – Season 2 episode 9: Margot la Magnifique – features her two aunts as the mom of her cousin
- Gravity Falls (Disney) – Same sex couple
- The Loud House (Nickelodeon) – Married gay couple parents
- Star vs. The Forces Of Evil (Disney) – Same sex kiss
- Clarence (Cartoon Network) – Multiple same sex couples
- Adventure Time (Cartoon Network) – Same sex kiss
- Andi Mack (Disney) – Supporting character comes out as gay at the end of series
If we happen to come across something on tv that we don’t approve of we don’t make a big deal out of it – we don’t want to turn it into a forbidden fruit. So we keep the conversation open as to why the show isn’t acceptable in our home (at an age appropriate level of course), but still make it known that our decision is non-negotiable.
Our stance on family friendly media doesn’t mean that we don’t love all of neighbors as we love ourselves, because we do.
It does mean that we are in control of what our young children are exposed to, whether it’s media or people. It all comes back to that word vigilant.
There is no auto-pilot setting – it’s constant stream of hard work to raise your children against the grain of pop culture, but it is possible.
So what do we use to provide family friendly media for our children?
- Amazon Fire tablet – These tablets are available for purchase using Amazon’s payment plan at five low monthly installments (and it ships after the first payment!). To pay using this option simply select the payment plan option before you add it to your cart. All of the children’s editions comes with a durable foam case, making it easy for small hands to hold on to. The only extra that I suggest buying is a pack of glass screen protectors to keep the screens scratch-free.
- Amazon FreeTime subscription – Honestly this is the best part of having the Fire tablet. It gives you the control and overview that is essential to safe screen time. But you don’t need a Fire tablet to use FreeTime. It can be used on iOS and Android phones, simply download the free app! If you are on the fence about whether FreeTime is a good fit for your family, go on and give it a try – FREE for 30 days! I am certain you will love it!
- Streaming TV – We have a mix of providers to create our own viewing package, you’ll find the perfect mix for your family too (and save money from a regular cable bill)! We use the Roku set up to enjoy our streaming tv – it’s easy to set up (even for us non-techies) and it’s under $30!
- Focus On The Family’s Plugged In – www.pluggedin.com – A faith based resource for screening all forms of media!
- Common Sense Media www.commonsensemedia.org – A well documented resource with parent opinions and feedback on all forms of media.
- Google – Yes, if we come across a new show, we Google it. We search general opinions and show content prior to watching almost all new shows and movies. It’s not an end all in decision making, but definitely a useful tool!
So again I say, be vigilant mommas. Our babies only have their innocence for a short time – so let’s make it last as long as possible!
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