Common Sense Media

Today the Supreme Court ruled that California’s Assembly Bill 1179 was unconstitutional. You can read about the ruling here, but I’ll summarize by saying that the Supreme Court decided that the government heavily fining a store that sells “violent video games” to minors was a violation of the First Amendment rights granted to all forms of media in the United States.

How you feel about the ruling is inconsequential when you realize one fact: THE MONITORING OF YOUR CHILDREN’S ENTERTAINMENT IS YOUR RESPONSIBILITY!

NOTE: before I go any further, I want to point out that if you get anything from this blog post, it should be this link: COMMON SENSE MEDIA, where you can find ratings, content guides, and more concerning video games, movies, television shows, and music. Just type the name of the title into the search bar, and then read all about it.

The lawmakers responsible for drafting Assembly Bill 1179 might have had honest intentions, namely that of protecting your children from exposure to overly violent video games (which may or may not have a psychological impact on their tolerance to violence, depending on which study you believe). However, it is far more likely that they are trying to buy parents’ votes by cheaply pandering to their base as moralists while they spend their free time sending naughty text messages to their mistresses. It’s not the government’s job to parent our children — it’s ours.

If your child is playing violent video games in your home, it’s your fault. If your child is watching sexually explicit films in your home, it’s your fault. If your child is learning language that they’ve never heard from the HBO comedy special on the television in their bedroom, it’s your fault. The government has nothing to do with it, nor does the video game store at the mall. Parents must monitor their children’s entertainment. Be nosey! You are not your child’s best friend — you are their moms and dads.

Almost all consoles and computers now come with parental controls. On XBox Live, you can enable parental controls which allow you to set time limits (including the ability to turn the console off automatically at a given hour) and restrict the ability to play games that are rated T or M (teenage/mature). Macs, iPhones, and iPods can have their Internet access restricted, and each offer a wide range of controls to customize your child’s experience based upon their age. Televisions have long had controls that restrict certain channels and programs which are rated for an adult audience.

The tools are there — but children are still playing, watching, and listening to things they shouldn’t, and it can be chalked up to one of three things:

1. Laziness
2. Ignorance
3. Ambivalence

If it’s laziness, then you need to research to find out what you can do. I’ve heard someone say, “Well, I don’t know kind of content is in the video games my kids want me to buy.” Okay, well then CLICK THIS LINK

If it’s ignorance, then it’s rectified by studying, asking questions, and simply reading the backs of the boxes of many games and movies. If your kid is watching a show on television, ask him/her what the title of the show is, and then Wikipedia it to find out what themes it addresses, what kind of characters are being presented, and whether or not it’s something you want them watching. When people say, “I don’t know where to start,” that usually means they didn’t even attempt to start.

If the matter is ambivalence, then I’d recommend that you pray God for a burden to protect your children. What they watch/hear/play DOES make a difference in their lives. No matter what psychological studies prove or don’t prove, there is no way to spiritually measure the affects their entertainment has upon their emotions and consciences.

BE ACTIVE!

Psalm 101:3a (KJV) – “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes…”

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2 thoughts on “Common Sense Media

  1. Chris_Hunter says:

    Ryan,

    Look who’s getting riled up about being a parent!

    I’m sure that you deal with this a lot as the youth pastor. Parents can feel stretched and stressed to the max with life as it is (you’ll see soon enough – bills, kids, etc.) and not want to spend the time or energy to investigate these things, but they should. It takes time, but there are shortcuts and I don’t excuse the laziness of parents in this regard.

    This is a great post and something that I’d like to see expounded upon in the form of a lesson/sermon at church with on screen slides or leaflets that give links for people to have and to use. This could be a REALLY resourceful list of shortcuts, options, and tips that would help a lot of parents.

    I just had to deal with this recently, as a matter of fact. I was able to get a copy of the new animated movie RANGO and was going to let my kids watch it, but I had heard some stuff about it from when it was first released. Decided to watch it and have decided that it is NOT a movie that I want my kids watching at all. That is my responsibility as a parent. Is it easy? No. Is it fun? Sometimes, Not so much, but it’s still my responsibility.

    SHREK was a big thing years ago for my oldest daughter, Camy. Lisa and I had seen it and at first, it was funny, but it’s amazing how things change when you have a child old enough and smart enough to see and realize what’s going on and begin to ask questions! “Daddy, what do they mean by…?” “Mommy, that’s funny, but what’s…?” Then things start to look a lot different when your child starts to see these things and then you begin to think “Do I really want my child seeing or hearing this?”

    We threw that SHREK video in the trash and my kids haven’t seen the sequels. At first it was a little tough for us and the kids, but they’ve forgotten about it now.

    Being a parent takes time and effort. Period.

    • Chris, we’re going to have a Wednesday night dedicated to teaching parents (or anyone else) how to stay informed on this stuff, but also how to protect themselves and their children’s computers, iPods, iPhones, etc. from pornographic material. My dad and I have been talking about it, and we’re going to set the date here in the next few days.

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