Why Should I Care What Your Kids Are Watching?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

The conventional wisdom these days is that what you do in your home is your business.  If you have children, and you let them watch inappropriate TV shows or movies, then who am I to judge?  After all, what you allow your kids to consume doesn’t affect me.  Sometimes you’ll hear people say, “If you don’t like that movie or TV show, then don’t watch it.  Change the channel.”  You have your life and I have mine.

In the real world, however, everything you do in your home, and especially everything you let your kids do in your home, does affect me and my family.  None of us lives on an island by ourselves.  We are all interacting with other individuals in our community every day.  The media that your kids consume influence how they think, talk, and otherwise behave.

Since my kids go to school with your kids, then how your kids behave is going to directly impact my kids every day of the school week.  When your kids speak on the phone to my kids, they are influencing them.  When your kids play with my kids on sports teams, they are influencing them.

All of us impact the people with whom we interact.  C. S. Lewis uses the metaphor of ships in a fleet.  As the ships sail in a tight formation toward their destination, it is imperative that each ship be in proper working order.  If one ship is damaged and loses its steering mechanism, then it can accidentally run into other ships, causing them damage, and negatively affecting the entire fleet.

In the same way, each person is a ship in the fleet of our community.  As we damage ourselves, we will end up damaging others around us.  Living in a community gives me a reason to care about what your kids are watching.  Ethicist Francis Beckwith elaborates on this point:

These [inappropriate TV] programs convey messages and create a moral climate that will affect others, especially children, in a way that is adverse to the public good. Hence, what troubles [concerned] citizens is that you and your children will not change the channel. Furthermore, it concerns these people that there is probably somewhere in America an unsupervised ten-year-old who is, on a consistent basis, watching late night HBO or listening to radio shock-jock Howard Stern. Most of these people fear that their ten-year-olds, who are not watching or listening to such programs, may have to interact socially with the unsupervised ten-year-old. Others, who may not have young children, are concerned for the declining moral health of their communities, which is sometimes manifested in an increasing level of rudeness, disrespect, incivility, crime, or verbal and physical violence.

Let me be the first to say that our household is not perfect; there is much we could do to improve our media consumption.  My point is not to cast my family as completely innocent victims.  My point is to make a case for why we should be concerned about how people in our community are raising their children.  I am trying to raise awareness of the concept of the public good.  We are all sailing in a fleet together.

If you aren’t concerned about the media’s effect on your children, then think about my children and change the channel.

6 thoughts on “Why Should I Care What Your Kids Are Watching?”


    Without a doubt the entertainment industry has dramatically changed over the years (particularly television shows and movies). We have gone from the days when it was risqué to say something like “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn” in a movie, to the f-bomb being dropped often and unashamedly. Consider the stark contrast in TV shows like The Lone Ranger, Leave It to Beaver, Father Knows Best, The Brady Bunch, The Cosby Show, Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons, Gilligan’s Island, and many more to the likes of what the television industry considers entertainment today.

    Blasphemy of God’s name, explicit sexual scenes, nudity, extreme violence, adultery, fornication, drug use, disobedient children, and a host of other equally bad themes are prevalent (and arguably more the norm than not) in today’s movies and television shows. It is quite difficult for a Christian family to find a good movie the family can watch without compromising their values. Unfortunately, it is a sad reality that many families, including Christian families, readily compromise their values and accept that this is just “how it is.”2 The question all Christians should ask themselves each time they watch a movie is, “Would Jesus approve of what I am about to watch and feed my heart and mind with?” Put another way, if you profess to be a Spirit-filled Christian, would you watch that movie knowing the Holy Spirit is there with you?

    FYI: My family found the ClearPlay DVD Player to be an invaluable tool for filtering unwanted content from movies we would not otherwise consider watching. http://www.LearnBibleProphecy.com/dvd

  2. Thanks for your comments, Jeffrey. We, too, used ClearPlay for a while, but we had so many technical problems with the player that we gave up on it. Several times we rented DVD’s and ClearPlay didn’t have the files needed to filter it. After this happened over and over again, we finally gave up. It’s a shame, because we really loved the product.

  3. I understand. One thing about ClearPlay is you do have to realize they don’t have every movie programmed. Some, sadly, would require too much programming to edit out all the language, sex scenes, violence, etc.

    Sometimes it does take a little effort to know what’s on the ClearPlay list when you visit the video store (or redbox). We print out a current list and take it with us (or, more often, visit the web site of where we plan to get our DVD and cross-reference with the ClearPlay web site).

    I just checked and in the past 20 days (Month to date) they’ve released about 18 titles, some of which are pretty new to DVD. Last night we watched “inception” and the other night we watched “The Town”. Both a couple of movies we would not have otherwise watched.

    Anyway, I’m not a “ClearPlay Employee” (ha ha), but I really appreciate it because without it we would not have been able to watch near as many movies that we would have liked because even PG-13 movies have very questionable content.

    BTW: I like your blog. Keep up the great work for HIM.

  4. I am a mother of 2. I have a 5 year old son and a 7 year old daughter. I don’t want to say “i don’t CARE what my kids watch”, it’s just that i believe that in a way it’s a good thing to sort of expose my kids to certain realities, being that they are living in reality. I’m not saying that if i walked in on them watching porn i’d be ok with it, but that’s only because porn portraits a very unrealistic view of sex that i would’nt want them to get confused with. But in life there is no censorship, it’s a dirty, cruel world out there and i don’t want my kids to be too shocked when they grow up. I’m a huge tv & movie fan and i have to say i do watch things like jersey shore and true blood etc, and my kids join me. I take that time to point out what’s innapropriate and why it’s innapropriate and answer questions they might have about certain things. I feel that since i’m so open with them at a young age, they really get a grasp at what’s right and wrong and appropriate or not. It is because of this openess that my 5 & 7 year old are a bit mature for they’re age, and it sets us up for a good relationship in their teenage years they will be open with me.

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