We consume an enormous amount of media. Entertainment media, from music to movies to television, and data from the Internet fill several hours each day for most people living in developed countries particularly kids.
Most entertainment media are represented as being a reflection of typical or majority lifestyles, values and conduct.
However, media are more and more in the business of creating trends, suggesting lifestyles and remaking values and moral codes.
Media show a tiny and grossly non-representative minority but have an enormously disproportionate influence over the rest of us. A few hundred individuals (media executives, producers, directors, moguls) influence virtually every movie or TV show we see. Similar disproportionate influence exists in the music we hear. And this tiny "cultural elite" is widely removed from the mainstream. Most are far less oriented to family and considerably less likely to be married, to attend church or to profess belief in G0D. They have much more money than average people. Most live materialistic, jet-set lives and often disdain and belittle traditional values.
Yet they portray what they produce as typical, average and mainstream.
Whenever a minority masquerades as a majority, the real majority is made to feel like a minority. Too many of us today have been made to feel awkward and defensive about our lifestyles, values and morality.
As parents, we need to help our kids correctly interpret the world and to understand that, despite what they see on their large and small screens, the fact is that the real majority still believes in basic principles of morality and traditional values.
Here are the two things kids need to know in order to avoid being deceived.
First, the facts run contrary to what is seen and heard in so many movies, TV shows, Internet games and rock songs.
- Sexually active high schoolers are not the norm, and there are consequences. According to stayteen.org, more than half of high school students are virgins. And half of kids who have had sex say they wish they hadn't.
- Not everyone worth knowing drives a trendy new car, wears only name brands and lives in luxury.
- Divorce is not something that happens smoothly and easily and without long-term consequences.
- People throughout the world, old and young, do continue to value commitments and relationships and character.
Kids who understand these two simple facts will have an immunity of sorts to the compelling "be part of it" influence of media. They will be able to stand aside a bit and see error as error, figure consequences for actions and take some comfort in the fact that how they live and what they believe is much more common than it sometimes seems.