We’ve all heard the age-old adage you are what you eat. I prefer the saying you are what you constantly surround yourself with. Because all the things we love to do and spend our time focused on have power. The power to shape and influence us and this power comes in many forms; from the friends we sit with, the shows we watch, and yes even the music we listen to.
This is only multiplied in today’s age, with the power of the internet in our pockets with us wherever we go. There is an endless array of influences, but not all of them necessarily have your child’s best interest at heart.
So here are some things that are shaping your child’s worldview and ways to be more cautious and conscious about their impact.
It is common knowledge to check video game ratings and question the amount of violence and screen time we allow our children to partake in under the guise of fun. But video game culture has been changing and so has its influence on our children. Here are some sticky things that might be on your radar, but you should consider watching for:
1. Interacting with strangers:
Most popular games right now have an interactive, online, social component. This allows your child to instantly connect with all kinds of children and predators. Online gaming requires more monitoring than the previous standards.
Frequently check in with your child for signs of grooming, your child being bullied or taking part in bullying. Discuss online safety regularly and what information is okay to share/believe and what is not. And if your parenting “spidey” sense is alerting you in any way consider pulling the plug (literally) on online platforms period.
There is too much bad out there to let their online interactions occur without some guidance and without monitoring. Another way to ensure these interactions are safe is to move all gaming systems to public areas and not allow headsets. It can be annoying to hear the constant stream of chatter, but it also allows you to keep an eye quite literally on what is happening.
2. Celebrity gamers:
This is a newer concept that continues to gain traction in the hearts and minds of young gamers. Used to kids wanted to grow up to be doctors, nurses, firefighters, teachers, or professional athletes.
Today’s generation still has those but also the increasingly common goals of “influencer, professional gamer, YouTube celebrity, or become viral.” While these are more readily becoming careers it is important to monitor which celebrities your child is following. Your child looks up to them and is readily trying to imitate them. Some of these celebrities are quite abrasive regularly “yelling, cussing, and mocking the poorer players.”
If that isn’t the kind of person you want your child to look up to and emulate you might want to take a more conscious stance on monitoring who their favorite Youtubers are.
Streaming services have spoiled us. Used to waiting a week or more for a new episode was the normal and we would eagerly gather as a family to watch the newest one together.
Now when a new show release we are done with it in a week or less and heaven forbid a show like Mandalorian makes us wait a week between episodes. That is so old school now. We are a culture who has become used to having readily available content and the ability to binge watch countless shows at our leisure.
And while we can separate reality from fiction when enjoying a show our children haven’t always gained that necessary skill. Our children shouldn’t be learning how to date, handle conflict, etc. from TV shows or movies. And don’t even get us started on the fact that viral shows meant for adult entertainment (like Squid Games) are common topics of discussion among elementary aged children and the theme of their Halloween costumes.
We can and should be doing better than that monitoring what our children watch and enjoy in their free time. Free time should not be free of monitoring especially at such a young and impressionable age. There are countless parenting resources that share exactly why the show or movie is rated the way it is.
Educate yourself and decide how much is too much to allow in your home.
Music also has an equally strong pull on our growing children. The lyrics are either strengthening the values we are trying to instill in them or proving them irrelevant. And music also has the unique pull of being deeply tied to our emotions. So here are some things about music we should be monitoring, teaching, and instilling in our children.
1. Teach music and mood:
Music has a powerful pull on our emotions. It can pump us up, fuel our rage, or make our sadness that much sadder. We should be teaching our children to use music in a positive manner. One in which we are seeking to improve our mood and not prolong a negative emotional state.
Make tedious things that are necessary (like chores or getting ready for school) more fun by curating as a family your favorite upbeat playlists. Take an interest in your child’s musical tastes. Encourage the creative expression of making playlists and share them with each other regularly. A child’s Apple Music or Spotify playlists can tell you a lot about their emotional state.
2. Look at the lyrics:
Just like the shows our kids watch the lyrics are also sending a message. It can be the catchiest song in the world, but do we truly want our child repeating such explicit or innuendos in public.
You would be amazed some of the phrases your child is picking up just by the music we surround them with. And even if we don’t consciously hear or understand every word our (and our child’s) brains are more powerful than we realize.
The days of radio censorship seem a thing of the past so it’s up to you to look at the music you listen too with your children critically. If you aren’t willing to read and explain the lyrics to your child, then perhaps now is not the time to be enjoying such music together.
I feel we all are starting to see the impact that our children’s time on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, and such is having on them. However, if you are one of the few who still hasn’t seen it yet here is your wakeup call.
Social media is the pulpit from which the world is preaching to our kids. Our children are learning all about themselves and the world’s perception of the meaning of life every time they open an app.
The only time it is acceptable to be innocent to the dangers of the world is as a child. We are not children and as a parent you should be checking in on this on a regular basis. There are too many dangers and repercussions if not.
Educate yourself on the new platforms they are talking about. Look into parenting monitoring apps that allow you to check in on your child or notifies you when a new contact has been input or requested. Consider long and hard the effects of unlimited device usage and how early you are willing to begin that battle and bring it into your home.
It is naïve to think that our children are only being shaped and learning to be the people they will grow up to be within the confines of our home. The world is pulling and testing them 24/7 through these devices and others.
Make sure you are giving your child more than a device and access to the internet, make sure you are giving them guidance, monitoring, and the awareness and strength they need to succeed.