Summer is a great time to go see a movie. It can be a fun family outing in air conditioning. It can also have unintended consequences for your kids. Are you allowing your kids to see movies they aren’t ready to handle psychologically or spiritually? Here are some things to consider before you buy those tickets.
- What is the rating? Ratings only help you weed out the most inappropriate movies. There are still movies with “acceptable” ratings that still aren’t good for your kids – including “G” rated movies. Ratings are a starting point for deciding what your kids should see, not the only criteria.
- Are you willing to let their brains think they have actually experienced what they see in the movie? The dirty little brain science secret Hollywood doesn’t want you to know is that when the brain watches sexual or violent content, it can’t differentiate between reality and fiction. With younger kids, it’s even more pronounced because they are concrete thinkers and may not totally understand the story isn’t true. Experiences change your children’s brains – for better or worse. Violence changes the brain in negative ways and so does early exposure to sex.
- What are the themes of the movie? Beyond the plot, what are the main messages the movie is pushing? Are they godly? Are they even moral? A current hit children’s movie is pushing the idea that evil should be celebrated and that some people are just born evil and there’s nothing they can do to change. Not a message I want my child to believe is true.
- Have you read the review at www.pluggedin.com? If you are in a rush, skip to the conclusion for a summary. If you have more time, they break down any content a Christian might find objectionable. Then you can make a more informed decision about what you want your child to see.
- Have you explained the concerns you have about a movie they want to see? Just forbidding a movie is not helpful for your relationship with your kids and can create faith stumbling blocks. Explaining your concerns in age appropriate ways and agreeing to revisit the idea of watching the movie when they are older or admitting they can make a different decision as adults breaks down walls, even if you disagree.
- Have you discussed the movie and their thoughts about it afterwards? It’s natural to talk about what you liked or didn’t like, but take it a step farther. Ask your kids if they thought the movie was trying to make a point and what it was. Then discuss the pros and cons of it. Make it fun and you can have a great conversation.
- Remind your kids (and yourself) they don’t have to do everything everyone else is doing to have friends or be successful in life. (In fact, they probably shouldn’t.) The pressure your kids feel to see a particular movie is often more about everyone in their peer group seeing it and wanting to fit in than the movie itself. This is an easy example of how peer pressure can impact your kids. Give them tools to handle being different or making different choices with confidence. If you can, they will be much more likely to avoid more negative and potentially destructive peer pressure later.
Seems like a lot of trouble, doesn’t it? Philippians 4:8 talks about the things we need surrounding us to be healthy Christians. If the latest movie doesn’t fit the bill, then it is hurting your kids. Why not take a few minutes and make sure it’s what they need to see.