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Many Christians are notorious for bashing the media and blaming the media on undermining the parenting of their teenagers. I think Christians should practice some restraint or caution here and re-think this position. I believe if we went back several generations that we would find that it was “X” or something else that undermined good parenting. I think we use the media as our scapegoat much too quickly and conveniently. The Puritans damned the arts and theater-going folks because they believed these art forms were a bad influence in the 1600s (see the book, A Vision for the Arts by Steve Turner). It seems to me that each generation by consensus picks a ‘whipping boy’ to pick on and to blame for the woes of parenting teenagers and for many it is the media. All this borders on vilifying or even demonizing the media in my view. I think we need to ask, “what do we mean by the media?” I also think we can find some good things about the media that we can affirm. For example, Bonhoeffer’s parents discovered that their son, Dietrich, was dead via a radio broadcast. TV/Cable is an excellent way to keep abreast of world events. For example, I learned of the bombing in Nigeria earlier this week because of the media. Now I can pray for this country. When a TV news channel reported on Bostonians a year later after the bombing, a man (a stranger) started a fund in memory of the young boy who was killed. Sure, the ‘media’ has a bad influence and sure sometimes the content is biased; and sure one needs to be a careful and critical listener and observer of media but we must apply this same practice of due diligence to everything and everyone else because all things are capable of being used for ill means. I think youth pastors can serve their parents well by adopting Walt Mueller’s goal when engaging with media artifacts (like film, Internet, blogs, literature, TV, Facebook, etc.); Mueller urges “not mindless consumption, but mindful critique.” In other words, we must train parents to engage their minds as they interact with the many forms of media so that these same parents can teach their kids how to engage with all forms of media critically.

I encourage readers of this blog post to conduct a little experiment: ask your parents and grandparents – what was that thing (or things) that sought to undermine good parenting when they were kids?


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