Media Smart - Tough Conversation to have with Your Student

We want to challenge parents in NYM to have a tough conversation with their students. 

Navigating the mine-field of music, media and technology might be the toughest assignment you have as a parent in our world today. We are aware of how infinitely difficult it is to figure out what your kids are listening to or watching, much less figuring out if that content is appropriate or not. And to make things more complicated,  many students have a phone/iPod that can access almost any type of media at any moment - how could that possibly be policed 24/7? 

We're convinced that while it's vital you as a parent do your best to put up safeguards for your students like passwords, restrictions, filters and accountability, the choice to please God or not please God with media with always be your child's decision to make, not yours. Thus, the best skill we can help students develop in regards to media is Biblical discernment. 

We can't mute every song at the right moment, we can't filter every video, and we can't scrutinize every lyric. But by instilling in students an awareness of the fact that we will become like the media we allow to penetrate our worldview, they will be able to (eventually!) make those filtering decisions themselves as they fill their heart and mind with truth from God's Word and wisdom from people in their life who love them. Philippians 4:8-9 can become their standard for media, if we guide them toward it! 

But this is the challenge we want to issue, and it's not going to be easy. 

Ask your student about the artists/songs listed below, then watch THIS video with your student, and discuss it afterward. 

The video is a lyric video (no images) that displays the lyrical content of a few popular songs. (Listed below). You'll want to watch the video in advance. The video is tastefully edited to remove profanities, but it will be shocking at times, so be warned. The point of this exercise is to make obvious something that is easy to miss - the songs we initially find appealing and catchy are often full of content that we would never be comfortable reading or speaking personally. Yet, because we enjoy the artist or the genre, we ignore the "bad parts" and allow the subtle (or not so subtle) messages of the artist to permeate our worldview. 

Please understand - this is not an exercise intended to say that all secular music is wrong in every context. However, it is a challenge that will push you and your student toward taking a careful look at what songs/artists/videos are appropriate and inappropriate, and why THINKING in a way that honors God influences our ability to LIVE in a way that honors God. 

Songs used in the video are listed below. Each of these is extremely popular among teens and young adults. Each of these also has obvious sexual innuendo or explicit references to sex.  

  1. "What do you Mean?" - Justin Bieber
  2. "The Hills" - Weeknd
  3. "Hotline Bling" - Drake
  4. "Wildest Dreams" - Taylor Swift
  5. "Downtown" - Macklemore

Here is a quick potential outline for the conversation:

  1. Have you heard these songs/artists before? What do you think of them?
  2. Watch the Video
  3. Have you noticed these lyrics before? Why or why not?
  4. Do you understand why these lyrics are not honoring to God?
  5. Why do you think it is easy to overlook certain lyrics when you like an artist's music?
  6. What would be a good way to figure out if a song is worth listening to before you're blinded by how "catchy" it is or how much you like the artist? (suggestion: read the lyrics beforehand, ask your Small Group Leader for help, talk to parents, etc)
  7. What are the danger that could come from overlooking lyrics like this and letting them become a part of who we are? 
  8. Not all secular music is inherently bad - what can we do to make sure we engage with music that doesn't fill our minds with things that hinder our ability to please God?

Admittedly, this could be awkward. And you might have to explain some concepts that are uncomfortable. But the shock of engaging with music that has this kind of content by READING THE LYRICS could create a lasting impression that would push you and your student to work hard toward developing Biblical Discernment. 

Let us know how this conversation goes - we're praying for you!