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Protecting Our Children

Helping Our Children Learn to Tighten Up Their Media Standards

By JoAnn Hibbert Hamilton

A number of years ago when the movie E.T. came out, there were two swear words near the beginning of the movie. In the theater I was in, most people laughed when these words were spoken. Two months later, across this nation those two swear words were heard on every elementary school ground. Media is having a huge influence on children/teens as well as adults. Sales of clown fish rose across the nation with the advent of the movie “Finding Nemo.” Yes, we are affected by what we see.

It helps when children understand what is happening in today's world. (You might want to refer to previous articles in the archives.) They need to know and understand that the media, i.e., magazines, movies, videos, Internet, etc., is trying to exploit their sexuality so that companies make money. Children need to realize that what goes in their own mind does affect them and so often what goes in violates their real values.

I understand that a university professor had his students list their values on the board. Then they turned on the television program “Friends.” The agreement was that it would be turned off as soon as the show violated any of the values on the board. The professor's comment was that he could not leave it on more than 15 seconds.

Randall Wright did a study a number of years ago about the viewing of R-rated movies. He found that if teens had seen 0-5 R-rated movies, 19 percent of these youths thought it was okay to have sex before marriage. If youth had seen 6-15 R-rated movies, 49 percent thought it was okay to have sex before marriage. If they had seen 16-25 R-rated movies, the percentage went up to 61 percent. Of those who had seen 26+ R-rated movies, 71 percent thought it was okay to have sex before marriage. The trend is obvious. There is a strong correlation between what we see and what we do. This is a good illustration of what happens and what needs to be shown to children.

Many years ago, I saw a picture in the newspaper of a young boy. His mother had given him $100 because he had kept his agreement and not seen any television for one year. I intentionally waited until we were taking down the Christmas tree and then I baited my children. I showed them the article and then said, “I'll bet you couldn't do that.”

“Would you give us $100 if we didn't watch television for a whole year?” my children asked in amazement.

“You could never do that,” I laughingly replied. “Give up your Saturday morning cartoons,” which, by the way, was about all they ever watched anyway.

Quickly, all five of them were saying, “We could!” Anyway, we set up the project. The first two or three Saturdays were a little difficult for the children, but it wasn't long before they were laughing at others who “wasted their time watching television.” They realized that they had so much more fun. Not one of these five children watches television now that they are adults.

Best wishes as you teach your children.

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