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February 20, 2022

As Dr Lisa Dunne stated in her opening lesson on Media Socialization: “We live in a generation where we are confronted with hundreds and sometimes thousands of persuasive appeals each day—messages that are designed to sell us a belief, a behavior, or a worldview.” So the whole purpose of media is not to inform of truth, but to convince or persuade, preferably to a specific narrative it wants you to follow.

The culture of this world intends to distract, desensitize and dull our spirits. While it is easy for us to say that we interact with media only because we enjoy ‘staying connected’, the real question actually becomes:

Who do you choose to spend time with? ...because the company you keep determines your character. Unfortunately, it is true that “bad company corrupts good character” as stated in 1 Corinthians 15:33.

Even though this question is very important when thinking about our physical friends and people we choose to spend time with, today’s ezine focuses on the ‘virtual’ (media) company you keep. The ‘media’ (whether books, tv, radio, internet, social media, google, youtube, news, movies, games, music or internet in general) you hang out with will influence your beliefs and behavior – whether for good or worse. And as we all have technology that enables ‘connectedness’ to all sorts of media, it becomes a more relevant question each day. The irony is that the selling point of social media is so often, to be more ‘connected’ but in reality it disconnects one from real people, real happenings and real life.

Sure, social media have funny things to laught at, and even sometimes information you can relate to, but does it really justify the amount of time you spend on it each day?

Dr Dunne states further that most people consider themselves immune to influence (and very individualistic and nonconformist!), but yet they watch, do, think about and eventually believe the same things everyone else does! Are we not doing the same? Are we not at risk of falling into the same trap? You cannot avoid becoming who you spend your time with. To how much of the world’s way of thinking and living are we conforming, without even realizing what we are doing? [just take a minute and think about the world before the pandemic hit, what has changed and how has it changed, if not for the media.….]

“Today’s generation is the first to be influenced more by things outside the home than inside the home,” says Josh McDowell, as technology has often got direct access to a child’s heart when parents are not vigilant. So as a parent you may think but you know what your children see, hear and believe – do you really? How often do you have conversations about important things with your child? How often to you still have dinner together as a family to have discussions? Do you care enough to still make time for influencing your children you know best?

The scary thing is that we (as consumers) are often not aware of how strategic the entertainment/media industry design their messages to influence and sway.... Singhal and Rogers, authors of a book called Entertainment-­Education: A Communication Strategy for Social Change, define Entertainment Education as “a media message that entertain as well as educate with the aim to change social paradigms.” So the question is – to what social paradigms have we been adapting without being conscious of it? Not all change is bad, but when it does not reflect what you believe and value then it is must be evaluated carefully.

In today’s pandemic world, it is an even more urgent message to help our children realize that not all media is true, not all science is scientific, not all voices are equal and most important of all, media does not care for your values, freedom or future. One has to learn to distinguish very carefully – especially in today’s media saturated world.

As of old, one may ask…

Quid Est Veritas? (What is Truth?)

and then as of old, turn to the one who said – I am the Truth.

The voices of mass media we see and hear so often does not have our family’s best interest at heart – and we must know and counter that, to help our children make wise choices concerning media and exposure. We must help them focus on relevant, purposeful and useful media (whether for entertainment or education purposes), else the truth may remain hidden. As Huxley states, “with the mass of meaningless information at our constant disposal, the truth can be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.”

We need to evaluate our media choices the same way as we evaluate our choice of closest companions.

As homeschool families we have the privilege of being involved in our children’s lives, so we can choose with what we keep ourselves busy, and what not. This is really important as research (Drs. Neufeld and Mate) has found that : “the most important predictor of a child’s emotional success, social health, and even academic success is the parent-child relationship”.

Children need their growth and development to be guided by mature parents, not their peers (or media). Parents must be clear on what their values, world perspective, purpose and beliefs are, else they are just as vulnerable as the children. How many ‘patterns of the world’ have we been adapting to without checking whether we agree? As Christians we must be extra vigilant in ‘guarding our ears, eyes and hearts, so we are not conformed to the pattern of this world’. We don’t have to be ‘afraid’ of living, but just careful what we allow our own input to be. Let our input be filled with wisdom and godly principles, values and perspectives, and not the media flavor of the day.

Until next time, Willemien

Minutes are more worth than money - spend them wisely. - Thomas Murphy

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