Media is accessible twenty-four hours a day. With a click of a button a teen can be exposed to content so disturbing, it could literally change his life forever.
In today’s culture, parents can no longer ignore the influencing power of media and must develop better boundaries within their home. These boundaries must be intentionally developed to intentionally protect their children from being exposed to negative content. The amount of time spent engaging in the various venues of media available must be limited as well. This cannot be over estimated–especially for young children.
Developing boundaries for your teen and his interaction with media is tantamount to his success–especially these days when critical, constructive, and creative thinking skills are seemingly becoming more rare. This process will be difficult and very challenging at times, particularly when your teen is pushing against those boundaries. Though boundary development may be difficult, I have provided you with a brief starting point. The following three steps will help you begin your journey to create, establish, and maintain better boundaries.
First, you must create boundaries. This is going to require time and creativity on your part. Like a vision statement, consider involving your kids in a “brain storming” session. Sit the whole family down and have them help you develop a list of media boundaries they feel they should live by. You may be surprised at how strict of boundaries they actually suggest. Afterwords, take their ideas and work with your spouse, without the kids, in continuing the creative process. Simply get all your thoughts and ideas on paper. Also, I have provided more specific tips to creating media boundaries here.
When creating boundaries, consider the following:
- Research: Be sure you do your home work. Constantly read resources that will help you develop better boundaries. In addition, talk to other family members, friends, mentors, or even your pastor and people within the church to help you create media boundaries for your family.
- Analyze: Consider every aspect of your home. Where does your teen have access to media? In addition, consider areas outside of your home. Where else does your teen potentially have access to media, i.e., friends’ house, school, mall, etc? Be sure to create boundaries in these areas also.
Here are some examples of boundaries that may be on your list:
- No Internet usage without a filter.
- No TV after 9:00pm.
- Our kids will not have any media accessible from their own room.
- Our kid’s cellphone will be one with minimal functionality, and will not be a smartphone.
Second, once you successfully create an extensive list of boundaries, decide with your spouse upon a set of boundaries that apply to your family. These boundaries will govern your family’s interaction with media.
When establishing boundaries consider the following:
- Identify General Boundaries: General boundaries apply to your entire family. These are boundaries that both parents and kids must submit to.
- Identify Specific Boundaries: Specific boundaries are developed based on the individual need of a member within the home. For example, the age, maturity, and interest level, will vary between each child. Your oldest daughter may have no interest in video games as compared to her brother. Therefore; the boundary “no video games until homework is done” may apply to your son–who loves video games, but may not apply to your daughter because of her lack of interest in that type of media. Conversely, texting may be an issue with your daughter and not your son. The same concept would apply for texting as it did for video games, “no texting until homework is done.”
- Make it an event to remember: When your boundaries are established, schedule a family night to unveil the new boundaries. One idea is to create a plaque or some object with the boundaries engraved on it. Place it in a common area that everyone will see and be reminded of the commitment your family made.
Finally, you must maintain the boundaries you establish by providing appropriate discipline when the boundaries are breached. This will be difficult at times; but, your family will be provided with a safe and secure environment if done consistently. Your goal in all of this is to limit the opportunities for media habits to become addictions and life controlling strongholds and worldview issues that will bring you and your child grief in the future.
While maintaining boundaries consider the following:
- Evaluation: Keep in mind that the media boundaries in your home will need to be flexible to change as your kids grow older. Schedule times, at least twice a year, to evaluate the effectiveness of the media boundaries in your home. If needed, make the appropriate adjustments.
- Consistency: Your teen is looking for a safe, secure environment. Be sure that you provide this environment for him consistently–regardless of where his carnal appetites are currently leading him. Remember, he is also a spiritual being that is craving boundaries. His deepest sense of security comes from setting clear boundaries for him to follow.
- Relational Tension: Be prepared to stand your ground no matter the relational tension that is likely to occur. As your kids grow into teens they are going to push up against the boundaries. You must stick to the boundaries that you established despite the fact that your teen may not like you at times.
It is incumbent upon parents to develop better boundaries from the negative content, accessibility, and amount of time your family interacts with media in order for your home to be a safe and secure environment. Remember, Jesus had the right things to say to those who would help cause these “little ones” to stumble.
What are some media boundaries you have in place within your home?