With technology making entertainment easier to access than ever before, it can be challenging for parents to make sure the content their family is accessing aligns with their Christian values. If you’re looking for a little help knowing how to navigate TV shows, movies, even video games, these tips on Christian family entertainment choices will get you off on the right start! It’s an important part of cultivating a Christ-centered home.
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Important note: This post is a general guide for Christian parents on how to form a standard of entertainment in their home. It’s specifically addressing screen entertainment, but can apply to books and music as well. I’m not going to tell you what to watch or what rules to apply. Every family is different and it’s a matter of your convictions. If you already have strong convictions about how much and what kinds of entertainment your kids have access to, stick to what the Lord is leading you to do!
Christian Family Entertainment: 10 Tips for Christian Parents
1) Know God’s Word
As always, start with God’s Word. Having a familiarity with what Scripture teaches about all things (not just entertainment) will help you and your children have the solid foundation you need. It’s helpful for both evaluating movies, games, books, etc, but also for handling any discussion issues that pop up in the middle of using them. Make it a priority to teach your kids the Bible on a consistent basis!
2) Have Regular Discussions on Worldview
Engage your children in conversations about your family’s beliefs and values and how they should inform your perspective on cultural issues. Encourage them to think critically about the messages portrayed in various forms of entertainment.
Everything has a worldview. Help your children become practiced at identifying and evaluating worldview by asking good questions together. Here’s a good list to start with.
For all kids:
- What’s the main message?
- What values are being promoted?
- Do they match the values in God’s Word?
- Why or why not?
For older kids:
- What values are being criticized?
- What is it trying to get me to believe?
- How is it playing to my emotions, pride, or fears to get me to believe it?
- How do these values compare to God’s Word and what our family believes?
- What is God’s truth about the issues presented here?
3) Evaluate Entertainment in Light of Scripture
Remind your kids to hold everything up to the light of Scripture, including entertainment. Assess the content of movies, TV shows, books, and other forms of entertainment by comparing them to biblical principles.This is true for Christian family entertainment, too.
When something comes up, discuss what the Bible says about it. If you’re not sure, open your Bibles together or look up the issue in a concordance. I often use Nave’s Topical Bible, both the print and online version. Blue Letter Bible is my favorite online Bible study resource, which includes dictionaries and concordances as well.
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4) Vet Content Carefully
This is important especially for the younger years, but it’s good to do for children of all ages when it comes to Christian family entertainment. Look up reviews, watch/listen ahead of time, etc. This will help you decide if it’s appropriate to be in your home at all. Sometimes my husband and I will make a date of watching a movie ahead of time to preview it for the kids, if we’re not certain after reading reviews. For older kids, you might allow them to watch more content, but vetting will help you be involved and initiate important worldview and biblical principle discussions.
My favorite Christian family entertainment resource for looking up reviews is PluggedIn Online, but I have also sometimes gone to Common Sense Media (it’s secular, so use with wisdom) or facebook groups like this one to look up more information. Even things like Amazon reviews and google searches can often bring up reviews by Christian parents giving content warnings.
5) Pray for Wisdom and Discernment
Ask God for guidance in setting appropriate standards for entertainment in your home. He promises to give us wisdom when we ask! Prayerfully discuss with your spouse what the standard should be in your home for entertainment and know that it’s normal for it to evolve over time as you all learn and grow together.
Decide how you will effectively and respectfully communicate this preference to others, if needed. For example, grandparents are aware that we prefer to know ahead of time what movies our children will be watching if they are new to them. Our kids also know to have someone text/call us if they want to watch something at a friend’s house. It can sometimes be uncomfortable to stick to your rules on this, but it’s worth it. Over time, we have found it became expected and was no longer a sticking point.
6) Monitor Media Use
For both safely and discipleship reasons, it’s important to monitor what media is being used in your home. You may consider content filters and parental controls, restricting physical access to devices to certain locations and times of day, and checking accounts frequently to see what is being watched, played, or listened to.
We often share with our children that these measures are for their protection. They know that as they grow older, demonstrate integrity, and learn to evaluate and use media wisely, we will help them begin to set up their own systems of accountability based on the example we have shown them in our home.
7) Keep Your Child’s Developmental and Spiritual Maturity in Mind
Consider your child’s age, emotional maturity, sensitivity, and spiritual growth when choosing entertainment or implementing monitoring. With the kinds of content available online, remaining vigilant is important to protect them from inappropriate, damaging, or predatory content. We also don’t want them to be consuming content that continuously undermined our family’s values and worldview.
But it’s also good to remember that each kid is different, so the level of monitoring or the approach you use may vary. As they get older, too, you’ll want to provide opportunities for them to learn how to handle media choices on their own with appropriate guidelines and accountability. It’s something to prayerfully consider as your children grow so they can practice wise and safe media use in a safe environment and under your direction.
8) Pay Attention to Quantity, Too
Families have different approaches to this. In our family, we allow things like video games, movies, etc, but we keep an eye on how much time is on screens each day and put some limitations on it.
Studies show that too much screen time is detrimental to children (here’s an article about it with some interesting links). We also want to make sure our kids get their lessons and responsibilities done, and have plenty of time for free play, hobbies, and reading. Too much screen time also negatively impacts their moods and behavior. All good reasons, we believe, to have some basic limitations on screen time.
How much you allow and when is a matter of your family’s goals and preferences. In our family, the general rule is 1 hour of screen time after work is done. On weekends there is more time allowed, and there are sometimes opportunities to earn more screen time.
9) Invest in Christian Family Entertainment
Seek out and support movies, TV shows, books, games, and other forms of entertainment that promote Christian values and encourage spiritual growth. This will provide your children with positive and uplifting content to enjoy.
For all entertainment we use, both Christian and secular, vetting and active discussion is important. We often even look into who created a service or piece of content (including their statement of faith) to see if it’s something we want to support. It takes time, but it’s worth it to find sources that fit your family’s values and a biblical worldview. A few places to start include AnswersTV, AwesomeSciTV, and Yippee.
10) Keep Dialogue Open
No matter where your family lands on how much screen time, which kinds of entertainment, or specific content that is allowed, keep the dialogue about open and friendly with your children. We want them to come to us when they encounter entertainment that’s questionable (it will happen!) so be their media coach and guide throughout the parenting journey.
Help your children develop a habit of healthy discussion, critical thinking, and applying biblical worldview questions to the entertainment content they consume. It will serve them for a lifetime!
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