Our 20-month-old son just stares at the television and says, “Elmo?” He is starting to push buttons on the front of the TV hoping it will make one of his best friends magically appear. He is our first child with an Elmo obsession as we surpassed this era with our other children. It’s interesting to watch our children as they interact with technology. Our seven-year-old boys and even our five-year-old daughter are fairly familiar with the computer already. They can navigate their favorite websites and play games with ease. I don’t really remember teaching them very much when it comes to using the computer. I don’t think their Mother did either. It’s almost as if it were just engrained in them. Amazing. I remember the first time I surfed on the web. It was following graduation from high school and the connection was so slow, but it was amazing to realize the entire world was at my fingertips.
A lot has changed since then when it comes to the Internet and technology. iPods, HDTV, hi-speed connections and on and on we could go. However, something hasn’t changed with the introduction of all of the technology. That is the need for discernment. What we watch, listen to and look at really does have an impact on us. The shows we watch on TV or the Internet will cause us to think about what we value and desire. They will certainly carry influence and they may even cause us to change our minds.
This isn’t new. Since Adam and Eve walked the Earth there has been a competition for influence. Who is right? Who is wrong? What is best? What do you desire? Those questions have been wrestled with over and over. It’s a shame that we don’t think them through when it comes to media. Whether that is from television, video games, movies or magazines we often just check-out when it comes to these influencers. We seem to have the notion that they are neutral. Do you think this column is neutral? It’s in a form of media. I am certainly not neutral and am working to make an influence on you. Movie directors, music producers, screenwriters, bloggers and all other types of artists are trying to influence you as well. Do you realize that? Are you practicing discernment?
So what do you do? If your desire is to please God then you must think of how these influencers are affecting you. Paul helps us in this thinking as he writes, “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9 (ESV)