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Becoming Screen Savvy As a Family

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
March 15, 2024 2:00 am

Becoming Screen Savvy As a Family

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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March 15, 2024 2:00 am

Adam Holz and Paul Asay from Focus on the Family’s Plugged In team equips you to guide your family to make healthy media choices. They explain what the Bible says about entertainment and how to engage with and teach your kids discernment when it comes to what they are watching and playing. It’s a great conversation you won’t want to miss!


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I'm so thankful to the Lord for that, that I heard that message that night and it just really gripped my heart. Roxanne worked second shift, which meant getting home late every night. But one evening was different.

Instead of her favorite rock station, she found Focus on the Family on the radio. I didn't find out until sometime later that I actually, you know, got saved or born again or, you know, gave my heart to the Lord that night. I just knew that I prayed the prayer at the end. So I just, you know, was probably by that time almost 1230, it would take me about half of an hour to drive home and just driving in my car, crying and filled with peace and joy and just feeling the presence of the Lord. It was wonderful.

I'm Jim Daly. Working together, we can save more families like Roxanne's every month. Become a friend of Focus on the Family and invest in this ministry.

Call 800-AFAMILY or donate at slash family. It's one of those things that can really make the family stronger. The key is to really watching community. The screens that we have now can tend to isolate us.

They tend to separate us. But when you are watching something in the same living room, sitting on the same couch, that can be a point of connection with your kids. That's Paul Acey. He's with Focus on the Family's Plugged In team. They do media and entertainment reviews. And he's with us today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly, along with his colleague Adam Holtz.

Thanks for joining us. I'm John Fuller. John, you know the way young people kind of seek entertainment today. I mean, it's all over the place.

All the time. I remember, I think Troyer in their 20s, but I think back, it seems more complex just in the last 5 to 10 years. More complex than it was when we were raising the boys at that 10, 11, 12 age.

But there are things you can do. And I'm so proud of the Plugged In team. Plugged In has been at Focus on the Family for a long time. And they have steadily encouraged and equipped parents to know what's out there in the media, what their children are going to be exposed to, either by their friends or maybe in their own home with gaming and with movies. And you name it, they review it and give parents the tools to help make better decisions and choices for their children.

And that's the goal. I remember so often we'd say, you know, a movie would come out and the boys would want to see it. And what does Plugged In have to say about it?

Oh, Dad, we got to read Plugged In. Of course we do. We want to be informed, right?

Okay. And then they'd go get it, read it. What do you think? Think we should see that?

Probably not. And it's a good outcome. It develops their discernment skills. But they're also really good at simply telling you what that piece of entertainment proposes and what you need to be aware of. Then use it to talk to your children about it. Yeah, there are messages in all the media.

We have to be thoughtful about it and what we're consuming. And that's what these guys do, they and the team. Adam Holtz, as I said, is with Plugged In. He's the director of the department and host of the Plugged In show. Paul Acey is senior associate editor and often appears on the podcast. And the team has a great book.

It's called Becoming a Screen Savvy Family. And we've got copies of that here. It's going to really walk you through how to engage with the culture, with the media to know and to help your kids learn how to discern.

Get details about the book in the program description or give us a call. Adam and Paul, welcome into the studios. Thanks for having us. Great to be here.

Yeah, it's so good to have you guys in here. Now, you guys do a podcast. You do a, I don't know if it's 90 second radio clip distributed on how many stations around the country? Thousands of radio stations. Plugged In is probably the most listened to product of Focus on the Family. Eight, nine million people get it in some form or fashion.

That's pretty good. There's a lot of need out there, right? I mean, this, what we talk about at Plugged In is one of the biggest pain points the parents deal with on a day to day basis. The technology, the entertainment that parents are trying to navigate to help their kids walk through can be really, really tricky.

In that context, I mean, again, the real world experience. And I think Jean and I had that. You just get overwhelmed as a parent. I mean, it just keeps, it's not just coming through every door, but window, crack, crevice. It's like impossible, seemingly, to control. And at some point you kind of have to decide what are we going to do here?

What is kind of the team's advice when it comes to what's our goal? Well, I think the goal is really to move from understanding the need for protection, for avoidance. I think when our kids are very young and the, you know, filters on the Internet, filters on your phone do a great job of, I think, protecting your kids, especially from that unintentional exposure. But as they move through their teen years, we want to give them opportunities to make choices and then engage with them so that by the time they leave our house, they have had some practice thinking biblically and critically on their own. And we may not always agree with their choices. My 17 year old sometimes makes choices where I'm like, let's talk about that afterwards. And it really is very difficult.

What you said at the beginning was it really does get exponentially more difficult as time goes on, it seems like. You know, I think when I was being raised, there were, you know, three channels. You had one TV in the house. Oh, you go way back. You rode a horse to school. Ancient. Uphill both ways.

Uphill both ways, of course. Yeah, but I get it. It was limited. And parents had the ability to sort of rein in their kids and their entertainment choices. They knew what their kids were watching. Now, with everybody carrying a screen in their pocket, there's just no way to do that.

So what Adam says is really right. We're trying to we're trying to train parents to train their kids how to deal with this world that they're going to be thrown into eventually. And I think the big, big thing that if there was one takeaway that I would say parents should really come away with this conversation with would be talk with your kids. Talk with your kids all the time about what they're watching, the social media they're involved in, what they're playing, the conversation that... What their friends are into. What their friends are into. To talk with your kids about what they are into is going to be so, so critical as their child grows. You know, with that kind of audience that we talked about, you do get secular reviewers looking at what you're doing.

And I get that out on the road. People will meet with me at a conference or something like that and talk about plugged in, which is great. But they also give you some teasing feedback where they're saying, do you actually count all the bad words in a movie? Because when you look at the movie reviews particularly, we are going to say, you know, the usage of this term was X number of times. And kind of describe the philosophy of what you're trying to do there. Well, we want to give people all of the information about what they can expect to see. We'll just say in movies. Obviously, we deal with other forms of entertainment as well.

We want to equip people, that's the key word I think today, equipping, to make the best decisions possible for their families. And different families have different pain points and different kinds of content that are their triggers. And there is a difference as somebody watching a movie between, you know, a particular bad word or two that's used two or three times or 50 or 100.

Like, there's a point at which, okay, there's an onslaught of usage of these words. We want you to be aware of that. Yeah, we have such a wide and diverse audience, right? We really run the gamut in terms of who we're trying to reach. We have families that maybe go to one movie a year, if that.

We have families that are very much like the secular culture out there, who go to a lot of things that's really popular. And because we've been blessed with such a wide audience, we try to reach all of those people. And we realize we do have one of the strangest jobs here. It's a weird job. It's a very strange job. They think they have a weird job.

It's fun sometimes, but mostly weird. Why do you say that? It makes sense to me. Because of the profanity counting.

Well, that's true. You're exposed to things that we don't want to be exposed to. But going into a movie, you know, most people do what we do for fun, right? We do this for work. We take a pad of paper in.

We have a little light-up pen. We mark down all the problems. We do all this sort of stuff. So we are actually in the movie theater working, and that's a very, very odd place to be. And, you know, it's a good point. People need to pray for you guys, seriously, for the Plugged In team because you're stepping into the ugliness of culture to inform us, the Christian community, about what to watch out for. Kind of like spies in the land, right?

Or like Nehemiah in the building of the wall. I mean, that's one of the Old Testament passages that we feel like is a template for what we do because people will ask us, well, isn't it self-evident that people should be avoiding them? And I'm like, well, for some people, it's self-evident. And for a lot of people, it's not self-evident at all, you know, what you should be engaging with or not. And so we really see ourselves having a calling, and I don't want to over-spiritualize it, but there is a spiritual component here of being those watchmen on the wall.

Yeah. In the book, you point out three false beliefs. I think me-ism is one of them. There's two more.

What are they? And I think you related it to La La Land, which I did not see, so I'm in La La Land with your answer. So when you go to the movies, right, you see tons and tons and tons of different worldviews. And I think that you could probably spot five or six or seven in every movie that you see. But three of them that I highlighted in the book, you have me-ism, which is really sort of this Epicurean ideal where you are just living your life for your own benefit. You're trying to live as you want to live, to enjoy the life that you've been given.

Right. And so La La Land is sort of an example of that. But it essentially is about this man and a woman. The woman wants to be an actress.

The man wants to be a jazz singer. They fall in love. And at the end of the movie, they realize that their own individual goals are more important than them as a couple. And obviously, when you're coming at it from our perspective, where marriage is a beautiful, it should be your primary focus. After the Lord. After the Lord. Right.

So you need to prioritize those relationships in your life instead of those career goals. So that felt like a good example of me-ism. The other two that you see often in movies is nihilism.

And I would probably point to one of my favorite movies is actually The Dark Knight. But The Joker is a perfect example of nihilism. The patron saint.

The patron saint of nihilism who who just wants to watch the world burn. And then humanism is another huge, huge thing where as we move into this secular culture, the culture is becoming more and more secular, less believing that there's a transcendent meaning to life. We're left with this idea that, yeah, life is meaningless.

So we have to make up our own meaning. And that's sort of where the humanism thing can come into. And that's probably one of the most corrosive things that you can find in in entertainment, even though you can have some very powerful humanistic messages in movies that can also reflect to Christ.

Yeah, those are all good examples of what the culture is throwing at us. Obviously, being single is also a good thing. Paul wrote about that. So, you know, get your relationship with the Lord right.

Then whether you marry or stay single, it's a it's a good thing. I do want to make the point here, though, that one of the key things is how to use all of this to help equip your children to better understand the world around them, whether they're 7, 8, 12, 13, 16, 17. And that should be a maturation process. And they're being exposed to more through friends and friends at school, things like that. So describe that Christian parents responsibility. It's not to keep them in a dungeon and to keep them from all things evil because you won't be able to do it. Paul even says you can't live in this world without being exposed to evil. So the exposure is going to be there. It's really equipping them on how to digest it, how to turn from it and how not to embrace it.

Exactly. You know, I think that we can intentionally look for stories that will be redemptive and that may reinforce a biblical worldview or a perspective. Like, let's take Finding Nemo. You know, here we have a clownfish who gets separated from his son and we see the father go to extraordinary lengths to find his son. Is Finding Nemo a Christian movie? No, it's not. But it's also a movie that feels like it's ready-made for a conversation with our kids about the father seeks us out.

You know, the parallels between that and the story of the prodigal son, they're right there. It's low-hanging fruit. So that's intentional. But then there's the reactive thing. Sometimes you're just watching something together.

You're not trying to have a teachable moment. You're just being a normal person. Our family likes America's Got Talent. And I would say about 80% of the acts are really fun and inspiring and about 20% are off the rails one way or another. And one night we were watching it and they were going to have a medium on and do a seance. And I said, okay, we're going to turn this off now and we're going to talk about what that means. And so we stopped it.

I said, here's why we're not going to watch that. And we looked at Ephesians chapter six and we talked about spiritual warfare and some of the things that Scripture has to say about, you know, contacting spirits. And I said, okay, we want to have this sort of back and forth natural dialectic between what we're experiencing and what Scripture has to say. And again, there are some times that it's easy and sometimes you're not that proactive. You know, I don't want to make it look like we stop and get the Bible out every time we watch TV, because we don't. But there are times that one was so black and white.

Like the Nemo, the opposite of the Nemo. Exactly, exactly. And that really drives home the point that we really need to, as moms and dads, we need to be talking with our kids all the time.

Your kids are going to be exposed to things that you do not want them to be exposed to. To know that they have the ability to go up to you and talk to you about something that bothered them, something that pulled them in a way that maybe they didn't want to be pulled. Or even falling to temptation.

They did something they knew they shouldn't have. Absolutely. It is about the relationship. The relationship is the most important thing when it comes to dealing with entertainment and technology. We talk all the time about the influences that our kids are under.

And obviously, entertainment, technology, they are huge influences. But there is nothing more influential in a child's life than mom and dad. Even when you as a parent don't think your kids are listening to you, they are. You need to speak into these experiences. You know, let me press in on this a little bit, because this is helpful to parents. This is the number one issue parents will contact us about, is how do I control the screen time of my children?

It's driving me crazy. Now here's the reality as well, and maybe you could work this into your answer. No two human beings, I don't think, agree on what is the right spot. Like we're trying to find this destiny that's perfect.

So what is a healthy spiritual perspective, Christian perspective, when it comes to this environment? Because I'm telling you right now, there's going to be some on both ends of that continuum where you're saying, you're crazy, Adam. You're crazy, Paul. No, that's right.

And they actually write to us really regularly. So direct all that content to Adam or Paul, not to Jim or John. That's right. So yeah, but go ahead, take a shot at it and make somebody upset.

Here I go. You know, I think that I love the fact that scripture says Jesus came in grace and truth, right? And I think this is a worldview lens that we can look at entertainment and look at our kids through.

And I also think personality wise, as parents, we probably tend toward one of those poles more than the other. And sometimes it is exactly what you're saying. Mom is holding the line on truth. That's garbage.

Why would you watch that? Dad's like, loosen up. But sometimes I've seen it the other way. I think it's good to know where you're at as a parent, because it may mean you need to lean a little bit harder intentionally the other direction.

My wife and I both actually, I would say, lean toward the grace end of things. And so occasionally we have to circle up and say, maybe we actually need a little firmer boundaries. That's why you have grandparents. Exactly. But sometimes if you've got all these rules and you feel like your kids are constantly pushing against them, I think the other thing, you know, Paul says in Ephesians, fathers don't exasperate your sons.

And I think there's an exasperation factor when it's just rules, rules, rules, rules, rules. And sometimes we can set the rules and we may not even understand what's our child's heart, because that child's heart is so much more important than making sure that we never make a mistake, because we're probably going to make mistakes. Yeah. And to your point, you need to know your child, right? Because every son, every daughter is different. They're going to have different pain points, different sensitivities, which is one of the reasons why we're as detailed as we are, right? And we know that we're dealing with a lot of different families and every single line, as you say, Jim, will be drawn a little bit differently. Yeah.

It's hard to find that perfect spot. And so what are some of the questions? Let's move to that. What are some of the questions parents should ask themselves as they attempt to set boundaries for their children? Well, I think one of the questions we can ask is, how can I observe about how a particular form of entertainment or screen-based engagement is affecting my child? So that's intentionality. That's intentionality. That's a big thing to do.

That means you need to be in touch, observing, engaged, knowing what your children's reacting to. Yeah. That's not small.

No, it's not small and it's not easy because it will almost always mean I'm noticing things I don't like. For example, when Fortnite came out, everybody was playing Fortnite. And we very tentatively gave the green light. I'm like, OK, it's not Call of Duty. It's not an M-rated game. It's not graphic. There's not, you know, massive profanity. And again, it becomes that relative versus the absolute judgment and relative to the other things that are out there.

I'm like, OK, we can navigate this. But I saw with my son, the more he played, the more he was irritable and the more he was aggressive. And there's a lot of research out there that shows that violent video games are correlated with aggression and a lack of empathy. And I was seeing those things and I talked to him about it. I said, I think we need to cut back the amount of time you're playing this game because I don't like what I see with how it's, you know, causing you to behave. Yeah.

Yeah. And I think that that's really important is to ask those those questions about how entertainment, how technology, how social media is affecting your child. Well, and I think the other thing that we can look for, it's not all just draw the boundary and avoid things that are bad. I think one of the things we talk about in the book is also look for places where you can enter into your child's entertainment world, where you're building a relationship with them. And just very quickly, we downloaded Pokemon Go when it came out in 2016. My son and I are still playing that game together eight years later. We have spent hundreds of hours relationally together.

And I tell you what, I had no idea when we downloaded it that it would become such an important point of connection with my son. Well, let me just add and Paul gets your response there. But again, some temperaments in the parents will find that hard to accept. Absolutely. But there is especially dads with sons. Yep. You know how many people and ministry leaders have talked about, you know, they need something shoulder to shoulder, not eye to eye. You know, you do something with your son as a dad. And that is an illustration of that.

You just don't want it to be damaging. Right. Something like that. Exactly. And I mean, we had the birds and the bees talk playing Pokemon Go downtown in Colorado Springs. You should turn that into something. That's how to do that talk.

So it just was, it's been a terrific point of connection. One thing that I think as we talk about these issues, we have to be aware as parents that it starts with us, right? When we're trying to change our kids' attitudes toward their screens, we need to make sure that we are mindful of our own habits.

Because these things, just as they can be problems for our kids, they can be problems for us too. You know, one of the number one things that kids complain about in studies, how is your relationship with your parents? A lot of times these kids say, I don't feel like my parents are listening to me because they're always on their phone.

They're always scrolling on their phone. And that's a really important thing. When you have these very difficult conversations, and they are very, very difficult, you need to start with yourself.

What are my habits? And when you change your own media habits, that can help ease the conversation for your kids. And that's a great reminder. I think Jean did a fantastic job keeping this ever present. She, you know, she had that perspective, I was the morning.

Gracefield, I like that word. You can tell that to her later. It did, you know, that became an issue. I mean, she was worried I wasn't concerned enough.

She was probably, no, she was right. Let me just say it that way. I was going to put the little edge on it, the escape clause. But also in that regard, the reality is you are not going to be putting your child in this bubble. They're going to be exposed. I love the idea of how to use that positively then for the right outcome, which is a highly capable, spiritually deep, discerning Christian adult.

That's the goal. So even though there's all these dangers in the entertainment realm, Paul, let me direct this to you. It can also be a valuable tool to help children better understand what kind of world they live in. It can be an incredibly valuable tool.

And I would go with two connection points with that, right? Number one, it can launch dialogue. You can talk about some pretty difficult issues when you see them in some of the stories that you're involved with, that you're watching with your kids. And I would suggest always to, whenever possible, engage with your kids' entertainment choices. If you're watching alongside them, that gives you a place where you can sort of jumpstart some of these conversations.

But the other thing it can really provide is that point of contact, that point of connection. I have watched terrible, old, bad, black and white movies with my daughter since she was 11 years old. And we continually just watch these movies, make fun of them. They are some of my favorite memories with my daughter that we've had. They can be incredibly, entertainment can be an incredibly powerful connection point. You know dads who have played Mario Kart with their sons. You know that there are these points of contact that you can develop. Families every Christmas often sit down and watch a favorite movie again and again.

Be it It's a Wonderful Life, Adam likes the movie Elf. You know it's one of those things that can really make the family stronger. The key is to really watching community. The screens that we have now can tend to isolate us.

They tend to separate us. But when you are watching something in the same living room, sitting on the same couch, that can be a point of connection with your kids and that's a beautiful thing. It's funny, I'm thinking to a story with Troy when he was like 8 in a Bible study. I'm sitting in the back as one of the dads, a pastor, youth leader is leading this little 12-boy Bible study. And the pastor said, who knows what the definition of courage is? So Troy shoots up his hand, this is interesting. And he goes, well courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway. And the pastor goes, where did you get that?

It's on my dad's John Wayne cup. So there's a positive example. Absolutely. And I mean this is it, this is what we're trying to do. You are both doing a fantastic job in Plugged In. Plugged In, it reminds me of the metaphor it'd be like this gold mine that as you as a parent dig into the content, you find these nuggets that are super valuable on how to help your children be equipped to discern the culture and to know the culture around them.

As parents let's not be afraid but let's engage and then put constructive boundaries around what it is we're going to allow our children to see even if they kick and scream a bit, be brave, you can do it. And then like now with in our case, I don't know about you John, but with 20 something young people, John Troy, they respect what we did. And again, I give Gene a whole lot of credit for being bold and solid in making sure they're making good choices. Thanks for being with us. Thank you. Yeah, and as we've mentioned, there's so many elements to the Plugged In outreach. Stop by the website and find out more about the newsletters that they do, about the podcast, about all the different things going on. And we would be happy to link over to that in the website. And of course, we'll have a link as well to the book, Becoming a Screen-Savvy Family. It's kind of a collaborative effort.

Paul, you were the editor for that. And it's a terrific resource that'll keep this conversation going. So get a copy of that book today when you make a donation of any amount to the ministry of Focus on the Family. And John, right now we're trying to find a thousand more monthly sustainers who can help the ministry continue to meet the needs of families, right? And this is a great example of what we do here, and I would love for you to be one of those new monthly sustainers here at Focus on the Family. So contact us about that. And if you do that, we'll send you the book as our way of saying thank you for ministering to other families that need help.

Yeah, join the support team. Make a monthly pledge as you can, or if you're not in that spot, a one-time gift is appreciated as well. We'll send that book to you. Again, the title, Becoming a Screen-Savvy Family.

It's written by the Plugged In team, and it's a terrific resource. We're a phone call away. 800, the letter A and the word family, 800-232-6459.

We're stopped by the program description for all the details. And on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. We'll see you next time.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-15 05:06:16 / 2024-03-15 05:18:19 / 12

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