Are Christian Children Being Shaped By What They See?
“Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” (Proverbs 22:6) Good parents want to see their children grow up healthy and happy. Christian parents not only want their children to be healthy and happy, but to also develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
In the scripture found in Proverbs 22:6, Solomon charges parents to “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Many Christian parents all over the world follow this excellent advice. Godly principles according to the Bible are being taught in homes, churches and even in some private schools. But something seriously has gone wrong.
Along the way of training, an interloper has infiltrated spiritual guidance and injected worldly desires, immoral behavior and corruption. The perpetrator is a nefarious beast loved by millions. Every home has one and it is commonly used as a babysitter. The culprit is none other than the television. Christian children, like heathens are flagrantly emulating what they see and hear from the “boob-tube.” They are absolutely being shaped by what they see
prodigiously. Extensive exposure to television is confusing youth and causing mixed or diverged behavior. “Nearly all American households have at least one television set and it is turned on an average of nearly eight hours a day” (Maguire, 1998, p. 175). This means for a working family with school age children the TV runs from the time the children arrive home from school, until well passed their bedtime. Between cartoons, soap operas, sitcoms and dramas there is very little to offer the children’s spirit that is edifying. Certainly, not all programs viewed on the television are bad, some are quite educational and informative, but the more popular programs children run to watch are permeated with sexual overtones and other diversions that are contrary to the Word of God.
Chilton makes a valet point when he expresses that instead of television shaping the values in our children, it is our responsibility according to Deuteronomy 4:9; 6:5-7. In the Chilton’s household, he claims that he and his wife have their children programmed to turn off the television whenever a distasteful advertisement comes on the screen. He confidently states, “Their level of discernment is pretty good. Television is not shaping their values” (Chilton, p. 135). Knowing children, unless you are there to monitor them, they will watch those distasteful commercials, especially if their friends are talking about them in school. Children are really no different from their parents, they are stimulated by what they see and desire to see it again. In a study conducted in 1998, Television programming and its influence on viewers’ perceptions of commercials: the role of program arousal and
pleasantness, the researchers state, “…research has demonstrated that viewers watch TV programs in part for the arousal and pleasantness those programs induce” (Broach, p. 46). Rest assured that if the commercial or program is funny, gross, or stimulating in anyway the children are going to watch it every time it comes on, distasteful or not.
In another study shared in a book written by Roy F. Fox, entitled Harvesting Minds: How TV Commercials Control Kids, (2002) we discover just how well our precious little ones know commercials. Fox explains that children are more tolerable of commercials than the average adult is, (p. 27). No matter how outdated a commercial may be a child will always enjoy his favorite. More amazingly, they know the commercial quite well. “Without a doubt, kids consistently demonstrated a very high recall of commercials’ content and structure, including an intimate knowledge of details, even down to how certain products are packaged,” as stated by Fox, (p. 28).
Naturally, this should come to you as no surprise that commercials and television programs do affect the behavior of our children. They mimic what they hear and emulate what they see. These images that flash in the Christian child’s mind dictate what is fashionable, cool and acceptable. And most of the time these images mirror the world and worldly behavior. Obscene music, provocative clothing and promiscuity are the obvious affects we see: but what about the not so obvious? Secular music has been incorporated into Christian music; holy hip-hop, rap and contemporary gospel have crossed the line.
The distinction between gospel and secular is becoming difficult increasingly. Our youth are piercing and tattooing their bodies as if this is an okay thing, but the Lord clearly declares in Leviticus 19:28 that, “Do not cut your bodies for the dead or put tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.” This type of disfiguration is considered paganism. In addition, in some ancient cultures markings and tattoos were given to criminals and servants. Just because someone who professes being a Christian has a tattoo, piercing or anything else contrary to the Word of God, it does not mean that they are right. It just means that they were either misinformed or ignorance to the truth: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6, NKJV).
Christian children are most definitely being shaped by what they see. It is up to the parents to monitor what their children and others’ watch in their homes. Christian parents must take a stand and define godly morals by being godly examples. Avoid watching programs and commercials you would not want your children to watch or emulate. Explain to them what the Bible says about worldly behavior, and why it is important for them to follow the attributes of a Christian biblically described. Leave no stone unturned.
Do not let the school system teach your children about sex first, you as a Christian parent should teach them how sex is made for marriage and it is a beautiful thing between a man and a woman only. Be the one to teach your children that drugs and alcohol do kill and destroy. Show them how to love by being lovers of God and of all mankind. Teach them encouragement by being encouraged during tough times. Be your children’s greatest fan by cheering them when they do well and be the chastiser when they rebel. Do not let the world shape your children that is your job!