This post is based on last night’s message from the youth service at Liberty Baptist. I have started a series called Download, which looks at making wise media choices. The series is based off a study and research done by Walt Mueller, a leading expert on things pertaining to teen culture and parenting. You can check out more from Dr. Mueller and The Center for Parenting/Youth Understanding at http://www.cpyu.org.
On average, a teen will consume 7 1/2 hours of media a day. This does not include any reading or computer use for school work or text message and phone calls. You add those factors in, especially texting and messaging and the number probably doubles. I imagine most students use more than one at the same time. They are listening to music, texting, watching Vine videos, reading for school and taking a selfie all at the same time!
Media has always shaped the world we live in. Nowhere is this more true than the world we live in today, especially the world of teens. They have been dubbed Generation M (Media), the App Generation, and the Selfie Generation. The internet and other technology has changed the way we receive information, whether current events or information from friends and family. It has affected our language. Selfie was named the word of the year last year. If you need some information, you “google” it. You may “tweet” a thought or “facebook” your feelings. We post pictures and videos on Instagram, Vine, Youtube and other apps in anticipation of who will and won’t like what we have put out there. (Check out this great article on Instagram and identity/self-worth in teens.) Quotes from movies and songs become part of our every day language.
Needless to say, media, whether social media, music, videos or print material, holds a large amount of sway in the world today. As believers, we must be aware of this. While the Bible does not say directly “Thou shalt not listen to One Direction,” or “Thou shalt not post 50 selfies a day with inspirational quotes under them that have nothing to do with your selfie,” it does give us some advice on what we allow into our minds. Here are a couple of Scriptures
So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. – 1 Corinthians 10:31
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8
Whatever we listen to and watch, may it please God. Let those things be truthful, excellent and pure.
Here’s the deal. Media shapes who we are now and will be in the future. Download determines direction. What we allow into our mind through our eyes and ears will eventually begin to determine our words, our thoughts, our behavior. It molds us even when we don’t realize it. This is why it is so important that we are wise in our media choices.
I know what you may be thinking. “Great, Chris telling us to never watch any tv or movies and that we can only listen to the Gaithers or other southern gospel music.” Not at all! I would tell you that you need to make wise choices in what Christian media you watch, listen to or read. Even though they may claim to be Christian media there are some whose message does not line up with biblical teaching. Truth is, there is some good “christian” media and bad “christian” media. There is some good “secular” media and bad “secular” media. It all needs to be filtered. Most media is not really immoral or moral, but amoral. It is simply a vehicle to carry a message. It is the message that is immoral or moral, not the mode of media.
Think about it like this. Your brain is a lot like a smart phone. The information you put into your phone begins to shape the performance of your phone. When your text auto corrects your message, even when you said the words you want to, a lot of times it is because it is anticipating what you want to say based off previous texts. Your search through the internet browser is the same way. I can tell Siri to call me stud muffin (because it’s true) instead of calling me Chris. Ads you may see on Facebook or in another app are mostly based on things you have searched for previously. The information you put in is shaping how your phone performs.
In the same way, what we allow through our eyes and ears has influence on us, if left unfiltered. I remember watching “300” when it first came out and was wanting to go fight and kick and punch things afterwards. I was yelling “This is Sparta!” for the longest time. Ladies, you know that when you watch a movie like “The Notebook” that you spend then next few months thinking guys need to look, act and talk like Ryan Gosling. You start looking for love and relationships just like what it’s the movie.
While I am having a little fun, there have been some serious issues with students who have allowed bad media choices to have heavy influence. The movie Project X is an unbridled movie of drugs, alcohol, sex and no respect for authority. Reports from all over the U.S. came in after the movie came out of students holding parties similar to the one in the movie. The consequences of those involved included jail time, heavy fines to fix the major damage done to property, and even a couple who were shot. On the app Ask.Fn, 9 teen suicides were linked to the bullying from anonymous posters that went on through the app.
Every piece of media has a message. It has a message it wants to get out. Each song, movie, book and app wants to tell you what to believe, how to act, how to talk and how to think. It may be that it changes their language, how a guy treats a young lady or their thoughts on any number of topics. While many teens may not go on a destructive partying streak or commit suicide, it could be that the influence of media keeps them from all that God has intended them to be by simply influencing their worldview on God and their purpose in life.
So how do we filter? First thing is we must discover the message. We must carefully and thoughtful watch, read and listen for the message being conveyed. What topic is this song covering? What is it saying about that topic? To make wise choices we first have to carefully be on the look out for the message in our media. We must discern the world view. We must then decide is that something worth listening to or watching.
What you download into your mind will determine your direction.