St. Augustine of Hippo once wrote that “what you contemplate, you become.” The words of this fifth-century bishop still ring true today. All of our perspectives are shaped and influenced by those we spend our time with, what we see, and what we hear—and that’s true for our kids’ worldview.
As our children develop and grow, the way they see the world is being influenced by a number of sources, and not all of these sources are good. Here are 5 dangerous things that might be shaping your kids’ worldview.
It’s no longer enough to check the rating on a video game box and assume we’ve done our job. While questioning the violence in video games is nothing new, neither is the result of allowing kids to game unchecked. It tends to reinforce their desire for instant gratification. In addition, many of our kids follow other gamers who record themselves playing games and post these videos on YouTube. Some of these YouTubers regularly yell, swear, and mock weaker players. Our kids are trying to imitate the skills of these “gaming celebrities,” and so we shouldn’t be surprised when they imitate some of the celebrities’ bad habits.
A sitcom isn’t the right place for a teen to learn how to date, but I learned my first relationship lessons watching Friends. Today, streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime, in addition to YouTube, allow our kids to binge-watch an incredible amount of content. What makes this doubly dangerous is that because these services are usually delivered via a mobile device, they are often watching late at night, on their own, with earbuds in. If we aren’t paying attention and speaking up, our kids may think what they see or hear is good—or that the values we’ve tried to instill in them are irrelevant if they don’t align with what they’re watching.
Cardi B’s 2020 hit WAP is arguably the most vulgar song ever to hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100. It’s not a song I’d want my kids listening or dancing to because I don’t want them contemplating or trying to act out the sexually explicit content. For parents, it is tremendously important to pay attention to the artists and look up the lyrics of the songs our kids listen to. Whenever possible, help them examine songs critically. One way to do this is to take a song your kids like and ask them to read the lyrics out loud to you. Some won’t be willing to read their favorite song’s lyrics to you. If not, ask them why. Other kids—kids who push the limits—will read them to you, which opens a door for discussion, too: “What do you think that line means?”
Porn is teaching our kids that demeaning violence is a necessary and expected part of sex. It is creating the mirror by which our teenage daughters judge their bodies and, in turn, telling them they need to change their bodies—to the point that an increasing number of them are asking for plastic surgery on their genitals. We need to do everything we can to teach our kids about the dangers of porn and to help them when (not if) they come across it themselves.
Social MediaIf you think your kids aren’t being shaped by social media, you’re kidding yourself.
Given the sheer amount of time our sons and daughters spend on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat, and the like, it should not be surprising that your kids are changing as a result. If you think your kids aren’t being shaped by social media, you’re kidding yourself. Social media is a pulpit from which people are preaching to our kids. Our kids are learning all about themselves and the meaning of life one hot-take at a time. As a parent, you need both to have an account wherever your kids connect online and to check in on what they are seeing and hearing.
Sound off: What are some wholesome ways to shape our kids’ worldview today?
Huddle Up Question
Huddle up with your kids and ask, “What is your favorite show or game and why?”