When I was a teenager, my dad taught the Youth Sunday School class at our church. It was not uncommon, therefore, for me to come home on a Saturday night and find my dad sitting up watching music videos on MTV. (Yes, there was a time when MTV played music videos). When I asked him why in the world he was watching MTV, he said it was because he wanted to understand what kind of music and messages the kids he was teaching were listening to.
As parents and as mentors to young people, it is important not only that we communicate positive messages to our children but that we stay informed about the messages they are hearing outside of their home or church. Unfortunately, it is hard to listen to every album or watch every move that comes out. So here are some websites that might help you stay up-to-date on today’s media as well as consider some ways to dig gospel jewels out of secular messages.
- http://ethicsdaily.com/section/movie-reviews – Ethicsdaily.com, a product of the Baptist Center for Ethics, has an entire section of movie reviews. These reviews are not so much about whether a movie is bad or good. Instead, the reviews provide a brief synopsis of the story and helpful insights as to how a message within a movie might serve as a jumping off point for discussion of more spiritual topics. The review will also tell you the movie’s rating and why it received that rating.
- http://parentpreviews.com – This site reviews primarily G, PG, & PG-13 movies. They use a report card style approach to quickly inform parents about issues such as profanity, sexuality, and violence in a movie. They also provide discussion questions to help parents talk about issues a movie raises. This site is not affiliated with any specific religious group.
- http://www.commonsensemedia.org/music-reviews – this site also review other media, but I wanted to focus on the music side of their site. The initial landing page shows the music reviewed, a suggested appropriate age for such music, and their rating of the music using the star system. As always, sometimes the stars are a matter of personal preference. Still, when you click on an album, there is some great information, including warning about language and themes that parents may not be comfortable with. In addition, there are some great suggestions of questions for parents to discuss with their kids. These questions don’t just deal with the messages in the music but also the real lives of the artists that sing these songs. This site was a new discovery for me, so I thought would share their mission statement with you:”Common Sense Media is dedicated to improving the lives of kids and families by providing the trustworthy information, education, and independent voice they need to thrive in a world of media and technology.
We exist because our nation’s children spend more time with media and digital activities than they do with their families or in school, which profoundly impacts their social, emotional, and physical development . As a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization, we provide trustworthy information and tools, as well as an independent forum, so that families can have a choice and a voice about the media they consume.”
You may know of other sites that you or other parents use. Feel free to pass them along.