Attack of the iPods

Posted on March 13, 2012 
Filed Under Fathering, Focus on the Family, Media, Parenting, Personal

Last week, in two separate packages, the delivery truck dropped off two new iPods at our home. The beautiful little (really little!) pieces of technology magic are already the pride of their new owners, two of my teen daughters. So now all three of our girls have “portable music devices” with white ear buds that will be a constant companion, a friend when they are lonely, and also a source of entertainment and distraction.

My wife isn’t the happiest about iPods and the music they hold. I understand her concerns. After all, what music is on those things, and what kinds of messages are our daughters hearing time and time again?

I’ve been a little more lax on the matter, probably because when I was about 13 I started discovering pop and rock music (I wasn’t yet a follower of Christ, so “Christian” music wasn’t part of my record collection) – and it quickly became a permanent part of my world. The teen years aren’t exactly easy. Music soothed a hurting soul, was a common denominator among friends, was even motivational and inspirational. Mostly, though, I found music gave voice to my turbulent emotions – it said things I couldn’t quite express. It still does to this day. I love how music paints pictures, moves my heart and causes me to think.

Probably because it meant so much to me all those years ago, I understand the power of music in my daughters’ lives. Dena and I are on the same page as to having some limits on what they listen to. We have general house guidelines and rules about “screen time” and music listening for our children. We try to model good consumption patterns. We talk through the impact of lyrics and lifestyles of the artists. We rely on Focus on the Family’s Plugged In media reviews for reliable information about the trends and popular groups.

The older they are, the less restrictive we are. I want my kids to “learn to discern” and offer them growing amounts of trust with regard to their choices. Helping them process the “why” behind my affirmations and objections is a pretty important part of the process. Still, I’ll admit that I’m not always on top of their playlists and “most listened to” music. So perhaps this post is more for me than for you.

With that context, then, a few questions. How do you handle your child’s media consumption? Do you allow unrestricted access to electronic devices like phones and iPods? Do you have safeguards in place to ensure your younger kids are protected from crude lyrics and content? What is the most challenging parenting problem you deal with when it comes to your kids and media?