How to monitor your child's video choices

When your children bring home a rental video, do you know what they are watching? It’s easy to rent films today, and they can be stored unseen in a backpack or duffel bag. Video rental stores have popped up all over the country, from the busiest downtown street to the furthest corners of rural America. Film selections range from tame cartoons to adult-only booth content, with sections for adventure, romance, thrillers, espionage, and a host of other genres.

Busy parents often encourage their kids to settle down with a video, grateful that at least they’re home and safe. But are they? The average child views 40,000 acts of violence by the time he or she reaches age eighteen. School children spend three times as much time in front of the television as they do in the classroom. If you’re not sure what your kids watch, or should be watching, the following guidelines may help you keep an eye on their video viewing.

  1. Shop family-friendly stores. Some video establishments cater to families while others gear more of their offerings to adult customers. Check around your community to find the stores that rent few or no inappropriate videos and shop there exclusively. Find out where your child’s friends get their videos and don’t let your child visit if the kids plan to bring home unsuitable content.
  2. Check out the library. Public library systems provide numerous video selections at no cost to patrons with borrowing privileges. But their holdings include R-rated material, so accompany your children to the video section to be sure they make acceptable choices. Schools also may lend videos to pupils who attend there, so find out if your school system offers this privilege.
  3. Watch videos as a family. Establish a rule that only G or PG-rated films can be brought home for viewing. Then make it a family night, with snacks and beverages as part of the fun. Fridays and Saturdays are good time slots since many family members typically have that time free. Choose films that everyone will enjoy or take turns letting each family member pick one.
  4. Make your own family video. Use a camcorder to capture the family dressed up in outrageous outfits or playing roles in a popular film or play. Karaoke, poem recitals, and speeches are alternative sights worth recording. Include background music if possible.
  5. Make occasional exceptions. As your children become more mature, you may want to lower the bar and rent an R-rated film. A very few offer educational content or meaningful insight on historical themes such as World War II, like Saving Private Ryan or Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ. Watch the film with your teen to explain difficult scenes and answer questions.

Films are everywhere in today’s culture, including home, school, work, and even places of worship. Be sure that the films your kids are exposed to provide wholesome content. Protect your children from those that exploit their innocence or promote self-gratification at the expense of others.

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