Tips for Parents on Teen Media Management (Fr. Michael Sliney, LC)
The following are first and foremost guidelines. My concern here is to protect the purity and integrity of teens, as well as to improve their personal interaction while promoting accountability for the content they are absorbing on a day-to-day basis. Ideally, these guidelines would be worked up to over time, starting with tighter restrictions while young and gradually giving them more freedom. After consulting with parents, both high-school and college students (a special thanks to Matt Williams), and based on my own experience with youth, I would like to offer the following tips on media management:
1. Cell Phones
- Given the generally informal, impersonal and at times vulgar nature of text messages, texting should be used more for business than pleasure: use it to send quick info or scheduling but not as a substitute for personal conversation with friends and family. Virtual contact should not overshadow personal relationships.
- Turn in or disengage cell phone to parents before they go to sleep. Use of landline is preferable for many reasons.
- Hierarchy of Communication: 1)Face-to-Face, 2) Phone, 3) Internet or Texting
2. TV/Movies/Video Games
- Less is better: limit usage to not more than 1 hour per day; always watch with other family members
- Check out movies and games for family using websites such as: Common Sense Media, Screen-It, Kids-in-Mind, Plugged-In, Christian Spotlight (MPAA Ratings are not always accurate)
- Try to open the kids’ eyes to the world that the movie is coming from and to what it’s negative message will do to their soul
- No channel surfing, know what you want to watch before starting (have a goal)
3. Internet/Computer Use
- Install strong internet filters that prevent inappropriate content (Net Nanny, CyberSITTER, Familink, Safe Eyes, BSafe Online, CyberPatrol)
- Ratings for these and other sites: http://internet-filter-review.toptenreviews.com/
- If possible, place family computer in public area with large monitor for accountability (for grade-schoolers, this should be the only computer they use)
- Limit non-academic internet time to less than an hour per day
- No internet in bedrooms, if possible
- “Friends” should be people you know and trust: Facebook is for connecting with friends not for making new ones. A mother of a teen-age daughter recently sent me the following comment as a tip: “And her "Facebook" page is checked all the time by myself and my husband (and so are her friends- that was the deal we made when we let her sign up.)”
- Avoid posting anything that you wouldn’t want to be seen by your college admissions director, your future employer, or your future spouse
- We recommend that Facebook (or other social networking sites) should not be used before high school
5. I-Pods (Music)
- Be very much aware of the underlying message in the music your kids listen to, both in the lyrics and in the music itself (rhythm, sound, etc.). If your kids are attracted to music that promotes immoral/sexual behavior (ie, hip-hop) or that has dark or Satanic undertones, analyze it with them so that they understand why they are not allowed to listen to it. Plugged-In may be used to screen music also.
- Don’t allow Music to become an obstacle to healthy communication with family and friends
Thank you Father Mike for letting me share this. May God bless and protect our children all the days to come!!!
THY WILL BE DONE!!! +JMJ+