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Mass Media—Ally or Enemy?

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On average, children watch over twenty-five hours of television per week. While battling the negative effects of this medium, we should not overlook the potentially positive effects. There are several good reasons that we should enlist and DVDs and videos as an imposing ally in the cause of Christian education at home.

Films are powerful communicators because a person remembers five times more of what he hears and sees than what he only hears. The visual element gives the motion picture its special impact, but the effectiveness of DVDs and videos s depends greatly on how it is used.

DVDs and videos can be a great resource for your home education. Literary dramas, science documentaries, lectures, biographies, and Christian films can be included as part of a lesson or used for extra credit. You can develop work sheets to help your child focus on key information and concepts, or your child can present an oral or written report. Short clips or brief segments can be used in coordination with various lessons. Selected DVDs and videos can also serve as unit themes for multi-age learning.

DVDs and videos, like literature and music, provide you with an opportunity to teach discernment. Helping your child in selecting media programs will provide you with many teachable moments. Take advantage of these times to explain the biblical principles that apply.

Another benefit of using DVDs and videos is the spiritual blessing provided by Christian films. Besides the advantage to your own family, these can also be shared with other families as an outreach.

Using DVDs and videos in your teaching not only will channel your child's TV viewing toward achieving productive goals but also will teach your child to apply the "Replacement Principle." Beyond simply removing negative viewing habits, students are learning to replace them with positive alternatives. Just as an appreciation for good music or literature must be developed, the discernment to select worthwhile viewing materials must also be learned.

Keep in mind that discernment must be used in the selection of all media programs. Public television has conditioned us to think that some programs are educational while others are entertaining. The fact is all TV is educational. The brain cannot be turned on and off, depending on the nature of the program. A person learns from and is influenced by everything he or she watches. Programs billed as "just entertainment" often do more educating than the programs produced for that purpose. Young people, as well as adults, need to learn how to choose carefully what they watch as well as how much they watch. Good DVDs and videos follow the same criteria as good literature.

For a positive alternative you may want to develop your own home video library. Also you may find DVDs and videos to borrow from churches, schools, home school groups, or your local library.

You, as a parent, bear a tremendous responsibility for teaching your children to select wholesome, appropriate DVDs and videos to watch. While your child may not be part of the twenty-five-hours-per-week statistic, the fact remains that all Christian youth must battle with the issue of what is acceptable entertainment. You can help your young people develop the judgment they need by offering them worthwhile alternatives.

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