You, Your Child and the Media: 10 Principles to Consider

Thank you for joining me again this morning to continue this very important discussion, we began a while ago. I hope you are finding it helpful and interesting as primary and secondary caregivers, who are committed to protect our children, spirit, soul and body. I continue today with the 4th point you must take time to consider in this serious matter.

4. View according to family values: a person or family without clearly stated values, which guide their existence, is like a city built in the midst of the enemies yet without walls.   I think our exposure to the media as a family must be in accordance with our values. These are values we must present to our children by modelling. The truth of the matter is that there is no point smelling what one does not plan to eat. It does not only create confusion, it also authors unnecessary temptation. As Mr. Olakunle Soriyan always says, ‘the unnecessary gives birth to the unnecessary.’ All contents in the media is designed to communicate certain values, which are dear to the providers. We should only expose our families to the contents if they are in agreement with our values.

5. Do not buy: Permit me to echo the instructive words of Hillary Clinton: ‘There is an opportunity for more parents to act as consumers. Let people know you’re not going to buy products that support shows and things you do not believe in. Don’t buy those violent video games no matter how much your child begs.’ This is ensuring that our children to not have access to the media materials, which are capable of setting them up for destruction. It has been found for example that a child can become a sharp and accurate shooter, if he masters same through video game. Children in most cases are aware of what their peers are watching. Therefore they beg their parents to buy same for them. It is important that we do not buy in their best interest. We must only refuse to buy, we must also be watchful of the company our children keep and make concrete efforts to truncate any relationship, which provides such materials and the platforms for us children to be exposed to such materials.

6. Still Sign-up For Screening:  The US-based The Entertainment Software Rating Board ‘is a non-profit, self-regulatory body that assigns ratings for video games and apps so parents can make informed choices…both age-based categories and, equally if not more importantly, concise and impartial information regarding content.’ It is important for us as custodians to understand that video games and apps have rating and it is the responsibility of parents to ensure that the provided rating guides what their children watch. The National Film and Video Censors Board published on its website the rating for films and videos. Before I share the rating, permit me to share the purpose of the National Film and Video Censors Board as revealed by the number 1 question on the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): why do we need a film censorship board? The answer read in part, ‘like all countries, Nigeria seeks to protect its young from unsuitable content and as a multi-ethnic developing society; the country also needs to preserve ethnic racial and religious harmony. It must take into account the sensitivities of all the different groups, cultures who make up the population. With the impact and influence of both Nigerian movies and the influx of foreign cultural imports, censorship will continue to play an important role in fostering a morally wholesome and socially cohesive society and safeguard core community values such as the importance of family, respect for one’s elders and moral integrity.’ I think the foregoing speaks for itself.

Tomorrow, by God’s grace, I will share with you the rating, which must become the template for your screening as primary and secondary caregivers. You cannot afford to miss it for anything.

I charge you as we depart today that you Think the CHILD…Think TODAY…Think the FUTURE…

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You, Your Child and the Media:How does your child pick up their viewing habit?

 Nancy Shute recently wrote, ‘parents have been told repeatedly that setting rules and banning TVs in children’s bedrooms will help limit TV time. But those much-researched and oft-touted methods don’t seem to matter at all, according to a survey. The only thing that really mattered was parental screen time. The more parents watched, the more their children watched. “If the parents watch TV in their free time, the kids are being socialized to watch TV in their free time,” says Amy Bleakley, a senior research scientist at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, who led the study.’ It is the recommendation of The American Academy of Pediatrics that “parents should be good media role models.”

10 Principles to Carefully Consider

1. Who Is Parenting Your Child? This is a question I believe every primary and secondary caregiver must not be quick to answer. I think it is a question that can only be properly answered with careful soul searching and dutiful investigation. The truth of the matter is that everyone (and everything) who has influence on your child is a parent. It is important to note that non-living things have the capacity to parents also. The real question is how many of the influences in the lives of your children are you aware of and if you are aware of them, how many of them are under your regulation and control? Please note that it is impossible for us to play our role as the number one influence in the lives of our children in absentia. It therefore means that availability is very key to first influencing our children positively and also regulating what they are exposed to. Dr. Mike Murdock said, ‘your absence diminishes your influence.’ Here is my worry, if our children spend seven hours a day with the media as researches have established, do many hours do we spend with them as parents? It is a fact that we do not spend as much hours with them. The truth of the matter is that whosoever has time to parent a child is the real parent of the child. In view of my submission here, I urge you to please take time to answer the question carefully and sincerely. I charge you not rest until you find an answer, which you could beat your conscience represent the best interest of your child. In summation please note that your presence is to teach your children desired values and to play the role of a media regulatory body. This is a role we cannot leave to the state.

2. Understand the possibility of addiction: Anything you have easy access to, you have the high tendency to be addicted to except you have a higher value of Self-Control. Temptation happens when desire meets opportunity. The ugly reality is that our children are under siege. There are many entities searching for a space in the corners of their mind. These entities do not take into consideration the fragility of the minds of our children and the formative nature of same. Their concern in most cases is their personal gain. The child has become the dumping ground of destructive junks, christened media contents. Growing up, I was addicted to viewing pornography and it took a lot of efforts to engage in the habit. I will have to wait for everybody to go to bed. I would watch under intense pressure of the fear of being caught in the act. Today, the case is different. Children are just one button away from anything they want to watch today considering the availability of multiple platforms and gadgets. Unfortunately, many parents introduce their children to these platforms and buy the gadgets without considering the capacity of the child for self control.

3. Build the culture of self-control: In view of the foregoing  the MOST EFFECTIVE form of Parental Guidance (PG), particularly in media matters is to inculcate in our Children the higher Value of Self-Control, which must be led by EXAMPLE and RELATIONSHIP.  Please permit me to reiterate that that training our children in self control answers more to example than rhetoric. You will recall that a while ago, I shared with you a research, which reveals that our children learn their television viewing habit from us. I think the greatest gift primary and secondary caregivers can give a child is the gift of options. This simply means we need to help children to understand that life is about options. First we need to lay the options before our children. Second, we need to teach our children that every option comes with its consequences. The foregoing is foundational to teaching our children self control. What they do in our presence is never the proof of the victory over the battle of self control. The real proof is what they do in our absence.

Permit me to sign out as I continue this discussion tomorrow. I charge you to Think the Child…Think Today…Think the Future…Do have an INSPIRED day.

WHO DO YOU SEEK…WHY DO YOU SEEK…WHERE DO YOU SEEK…

Who do you seek?
The living among the dead?
The dead among the living?
How great is your trouble if you do not know who you seek, why you seek and where to find…
I see many, who invest heavily in seeking what’s not missing…
Or what is missing but it is of no tangible or intrinsic value to their present and future meaning of their destiny and existence…
Or what is missing but it is a blessing in disguise, designed to be missing for a peace and safety we cannot evaluation today…
Lord teach us this day as I remain sober on my knees on Your day,
The wisdom to discern who, why and where I should seek…
To also know that it is not all that is missing I should seek because it is not everything that is missing that is a loss…
That if there is anything I miss today and I shouldn’t seek and I’m determined to seek, that You will by Yourself reveal same and stop me…
Do have an INSPIRED week.
Taiwo Akinlami Sober on his knees on the LORD’s Day

You, Your Child and the Media: What is the impact of excessive media contents on Children?

Various Researches show that excessive exposure to media can lead to attention problems, school difficulties, sleep and eating disorders, and violence. In addition, the cell phones, Internet and other electronic devices provide platforms for illicit and risky (sexual immorality and drug abuse) behaviors.

Consider The Joshua Cooke Example. He killed his adoptive parents in one day.  Joshua Cooke later spoke on the impact of ‘The Matrix’ (American–Australian science fiction action film) on his mindset: ‘I would see myself in the role…I would see myself shooting the bullies and people who had hurt me in my life…It made me feel better when I would watch it. So I watched this movie hundreds of times…I watched it so much at one point that the tape had worn out and I had to buy a new one. The video games were the same – played the same part. Video games like ‘Grand Theft Auto,’ ‘Blood Rain,’ ‘Resident Evil,’ ‘Doom,’ ‘Quake,’ shooter games. When I would play these games, it did a lot for me mentally for I could release my aggression with these games,” reveals Cooke. “I could almost bring my fantasies to fruition. The way I would verse myself in these games, sometimes I would play them 12 to 15 hours a day without leaving my room. I would have food and all kinds of things stashed in my room so I wouldn’t have to leave.’

The insightful article titled, how television influences children’s behaviors, published in The Guardian newspaper of Thursday, September 26, 2013 opened thus, recently, mother of 13-year-old Ricky Daniel Oikhena who stowed away to Lagos from Benin airport in the wheel well of an Arik airline disclosed that her son may have been influenced by long hours of watching movies and sundry shows on television.’ The piece also aired the view of Damilola Aliyu, a Clinical psychologist at the Neuro-Psychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, who submits, ‘television has a way of forming a child’s character or behavior. Studies and indeed numerous literatures have shown that it contributes immensely to the formation and intellectual development of children… Children also model some of the behaviours that adults exhibit, whether in their immediate environment or what they watch on television, what they hear on the radio or any other means. That is why some television programmes are being censored and various ages are often applied to certain movies when produced, while in some, parental guidance (PG) is required…Without doubt, television also has some very positive impact on children’s intellectual development. However, its negative impact includes aggression, anti-social behaviours such as stealing, use of drugs, arms and ammunitions, engaging in armed robbery and prostitution. Some television programmes also encourage children to be rude, live a fake lifestyle by imitating celebrities or television stars.’

Ben Carson was addicted to Television viewing after school and he was the bottom of his class. His life changed when his mother changed his routine of watching Television to reading in the library after school.  Ben Carson submits, I often use the saying that ‘The brain acquires everything that we encounter.’ The difficulty does not come with the INPUT of information, BUT GETTING IT OUT. Sometimes we “file” information randomly of little importance, and it confuses us.’

Permit me to round up this segment on a light note. recently, I got a Blackberry broadcast from a friend, which though; it  sounds very funny but gives a fair impression of the cartoons our children are exposed to and the perceived impact on them as the author sees it: How do we expect our kids to be good, when me make them Watch all these: Ben10 can change into 10 demons, Tarzan is always half naked, Tom and jerry are always fighting, Cinderella comes back home at midnight, Pinocho lies all the time, Aladdin is the king of thieves, Batman drives at 320mph:s, Sleeping Beauty is a lazy girl, Rapunzel allows men to climb in through her window and Snow White is living with 7 dwarfs, I mean someone tell me.’

When does the child begin to pick things from the media? 

Margaret E. Stephenson in her forward to Maria Montessori’s ‘The Secret of Childhood’ submitted, ‘in whatever country a child may be born is endowed with what Dr. Montessori called the ‘THE ABSORBENT MIND…’  This ABSORBENT MIND does not only take language and reproduce it. It absorbs all that makes for the culture of the country and creates the native, the man of a particular time and place. Did the Frenchman learn to be French, the American, American, the Hindu, Hindu after he entered school? The absorption of culture, of customs, of ideas, ideals, of sentiments, feeling, emotions, religion, take place during the period of the ABSORBENT MIND, in the child from ZERO TO SIX. This quite obviously is going on all over the world.’

James Dobson, renowned family expert  tells us the age from when a child can be instructed either by people or the media: ‘…Midway through the second year (18 months) boys and girls become capable of knowing what you are telling them to do or not do.

Thank you for joining me today. I believe God to be with you on Monday. Do have an INSPIRING Valentine’s Day. As we celebrate Valentine’s Day today, I charge you to Think the Child…Think Today…Think the Future…

You, Your Child and the Media: What is Negative Media?

I do not think there is anything negative about the media. I think the two things that are negative about the use of the media.

The first is excessive exposure to the media contents, good or bad: Research has established it that children spend an average of 7 hours a day (49 hours per week) on entertainment media, including televisions, computers, phones and other electronic devices.  This is not healthy, not healthy, not healthy at all.

Hillary Clinton submits most profoundly, ‘It is probably the single most commonly mentioned issue to me by young parents, almost no matter where I go, when we start talking about raising children. We start talking about the challenges of parenting today, and all of a sudden people are exchanging their deep concerns about losing control over the raising of their own children, ceding the responsibility of implicating values and behaviors to a multi-dimensional media marketplace that they have no control over and most of us don’t really understand because it is moving so fast we can’t keep up with it. And so I’ve spent more than 30 years advocating for children and worrying about the impact of the media.’

The second is exposure to negative contents expressed in:

  • Exposure to sexual/pornographic materials in print, electronic and New Media : there are pornographic cartoons
  • Violent movies/music/articles/video games
  • Fantasy Movies, promoting fantasies as realities and with unhealthy spiritual undertone
  • Materials promoting horror  but tagged, ‘Thriller’
  • Promotion of destructive habits like drugs and alcohol use and abuse
  • Please note that all categories of movies (comedy, action, and the rest) have one negative undertone or the other.

As at today there are more negative materials enjoying airplay than Positive materials…Do you need statistics? Not at all…You know it as a fact even without thinking that the airwaves are full of junks in the name of programming…So SAD!

In an article titled, Your Child and the Media: Facts and Fiction, published on the website (www.parentstv.org) of Parents Television Council, the following depressing facts are supplied,

  • Television: The Television reaches children at a younger age and for more time than any other socializing institution except the family:

– More and more homes have multiple TVs, meaning children have greater opportunity to view programs without parental consent or supervision.
– By age 18, a U.S. youth will have seen 16,000 simulated murders and 200,000 acts of violence. American Psychiatric Association
–  In a national opinion poll conducted for TV Guide (8/2/03), 57% of TV viewers said they ‘noticed an increase in offensive material on television lately.

  • Internet: The New Frontier

– More than 31% of children surveyed (ages 10 -17) report having seen a pornographic site on the Internet.
50% of teens (aged 3-18)  frfequently communicate online with someone they’ve never met in person
– 37% have received a link to sexually explicit content

  • Video Games

– 75% of American households with more than one child have video game equipment.
– Approximately 40% of families with preschoolers own video game equipment.
– 97% of teens ages 12-17 play computer, web, portable, or console games; 50% played games “yesterday.” Pew Research Center

Please note that I have use the foregoing statistics first because of its accuracy and the fact that if the foregoing is the picture in a developed country, with more effective state regulations and self-regulatory groups, I doubt if the picture would be better in a developing nation or continent like Africa. I fervently hope it is not even worse in our clime, though that is what my hindsight seems to be desperately pushing on me due to my interactions with children, teenagers, young adults and parents in the last 16 years. The situation is scarier because we are not even in possession of our facts and figures.

Thank you for joining me today. The discussion continues tomorrow. Do have an INSPIRED day. I charge you today to Think the Child…Think Today…Think the Future…

You, Your Child and the Media: Is The Media Evil?

‘I hate what they’ve done to my child…The technique is wonderful. I didn’t even dream it would be so good. But I would never let my children come close to the thing.’ Vladimir Kosmich Zworykin July 29, 1888 – July 29, 1982) a Russian-American inventor, engineer, and pioneer of television technology expressing his feelings about his children watching television in an interview on his 92nd birthday, news summaries 31 Dec 81

The need for the primary (parents/guardians) and secondary (players at the school and community levels) to understand their roles as the most formidable regulatory bodies in the lives of their children is becoming clearer by the day. I have made that point adequately while discussing 15 facts to consider before you register your child in a school.

There is one major foundational truth why primary and secondary caregivers, particularly parents must become the regulatory bodies in the lives of their children. It is captured in the Ghanaian proverb, which says ‘the ruin of a nation begins in the homes of it’s people.’ It goes without saying that the opposite is also an absolute truth and I render it thus: ‘the prosperity of a nation begins in the homes of it’s people.’  Everything rises and falls on the family. The US-based Parents Television Council submits on their website (www.parentstv.org) and I verily believe their conclusion: We at the Parents Television Council believe parents are the final arbiters of what is and is not appropriate for their child to watch. That is why we strive to provide comprehensive content analysis of every primetime broadcast series so that parents can make informed viewing decisions.’  The foregoing is strengthened by the fact that the state and its machinery have not done too much in playing its traditional roles of being a regulatory body in the protection of children as dictated by the principle of social contract.

The ball will always in the court of the primary and secondary custodians. Permit me to say that the ball will always be more in the court of the parents to stand up for the protection of their children.

It is in the light of the foregoing that I will like to discuss the pressing issue of you, your child and the media. The real question, I seek to ask is that who is parenting your children, you or the media? Before, you ask me the question, how can media parent my children? Permit me to declare to you this universal principle: everyone who has influence on your child is a parent including living and non-living things. Put differently, anyone or anything you expose your children to observe, they will imitate.  That is why we have to be careful the people and things we expose our children to.

In discussing the media, please permit me to define what I refer to as the media to print, electronic, new media and Social Media. Today, the advent of new media and social media has given way to a media revolution, which is characterized by an unprecedented democratization of access to the media in human history. With the telephone and other countless electronic devices both adults and children have unfettered access to the internet and other media platforms. It is no longer news that with the media revolution occasioned by the advent of the new media and social media, the media in its entirety has become Just ONE BUTTON away for all.

The foregoing makes effective regulation to become a very difficult task. I must submit most sincerely that never in the history of mankind has it been difficult for parents to regulate what their children are exposed to. Again, permit me to also submit that never in the history of our world also have parents be unaware of their responsibilities to their children. I guess that is why the recent United Nation Survey, which submits that ‘never in the history of our world has the children been under the kind of siege and abuse they are today,’ must be considered as a piece of information, which stares us in the face with an oracular precision. We can only ignore same at peril of our family and our dear children.

That is why we keep drumming it with every drop of our blood that it is time to Think the CHILD…Think TODAY…Think the FUTURE™. Why? According to Fredrick Douglass ‘It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.’ Therefore, it has been our fundamental CREED and approach to Child Protection in the last 16 years that Enlightenment is Superior to Enforcement™.

Is the Media Evil?: I do not think media is evil. In fact, if I must tell you the truth, it is not.  I must admit as a a matter of historical and contemporary fact that Media plays a major role in educating children about their rights and responsibilities.  Article 17 Convention on the Rights of the Child  “States Parties recognize the important function performed by the mass media and shall ensure that the child has access to information and material from a diversity of national and international sources, especially those aimed at the promotion of his or her social, spiritual and moral well-being and physical and mental health.”

Permit me to share with you the story of Salman Amin ‘Sal’ Khanas an example of positive media or should I say positive use of the media. He is an American educator and the founder of the Khan Academy, a free online education platform and nonprofit organization. Khan has produced 2871 videos elucidating a wide spectrum of academic subjects, mainly focusing on mathematics and the sciences. As of November 2011, “Khan Academy” had attracted more than 218,000 subscribers.

Permit me to close our discussion here today. I hope to be with you tomorrow. I charge you to Think the Child…Think Today…Think the Future…Do have an INSPIRED day.

To My Child: 12 Commandments for Your Difference in 2014: What Do You See?

My dear child, I am glad this is another promise kept in our great relationship. I will bring our discussion to an end today. I am sure you are set to make a difference in the midst of the multitude. The multitude is never the challenge my dear child because there will always be multitude. Should I say, the multitude, you will always have with you. The real challenge is that many of us do not have the wisdom to penetrate the multitude and stand out. Hear this, my dear child, you are the light of the world. You are a nation on high, you must not be hidden. You are created for meaningful contributions, for which humanity will give thank to your Creator. Meaningful contribution is a man’s door out of obscurity. I have proven this to be true my dear child.

I should have been through by now with our discussion, having discussed the 12 Commandments, I promised you. But I think I should just once and for all discuss with you the 13th Commandment. I believe it is the foundation of all the other commandments. It is the commandment, which give all the other commandments their life and direction. In fact it is their source and sustainer.

The 13th Commandment is vision. It is very simple. It only seeks to ask you one question: what do you see? I think the most instructive question anyone could ask you is, what do you see? Vision does not only address the far future; it also addresses the very near future. To make a difference in any area of life, now or in the future, you must see it. Many are so blind, all they see is today. What do you see about siblings? What do you see about the phone in your hand? What do you see about the school you attend? What do you see about the subjects you offer in school? What do you see about your growing body? What do you see about your friends? What do you see about the clothes you wear?

Note that I have not asked you what you see about the very far future. It is deliberate my dear child. If you do not see what is near, you will not see what is far? If you do not see the night from morning, it is difficult for you to see tomorrow. Dream far but break it down to very near. As you break it down it becomes easy and achievable. This brings joy into your heart to pursue.

Do not be deceived my dear child, your today determines your future. I have seen people, who are so crazy about the future but have refused to pay attention to the present, which is the vehicle to the future.  Your vision begins today? For example my dear child, when you woke up today, what is your vision for today. What do you see for today? If you see something, how do you plan to achieve it? Life is one day at a time. Yes, you want to be a medical doctor. What is your vision for your school today? What is your vision concerning being approached by a class mate for friendship? What is your vision for learning life skills? What is your vision of the opposite sex and sex itself? What is your vision about higher education?  What is your vision about the money in your hand?

My dear child, I charge you today to dream and see vision. It is a picture of a preferable future impacted by God.  The next minute is the future of this minute. I think you must make a commitment that your next minute will be better than this minute. Choose to be better per minute. Challenge yourself all the time. You do not have a competition. Nobody is your competitor my child, you are unique. You are not created to run same race with another, so why compare yourself to anyone? I must tell you my child, it takes acute foolishness to embark on the unprofitable journey of comparison. I do not do it my dear child. I must not deceive you, I am sometimes tempted to, but I have learnt to speak to my faculties to behave and respect order. Your standard, set according to the universal principles of how God designed this world to function is your benchmark. I always tell people that I do not owe anyone performance. I owe myself performance. I owe my dignity performance. I give my best because the best is what I empowered to give. I will not stoop lower than the investment of my heavenly Father in me. To do that will be to be a waster. It will mean I am not grateful.

I will have to leave you now my dear child. I am confident that if you would live by these things, you will be a marvel and centre of attraction for excellence. I know what I am talking about. I have practiced most of these principles in the last seventeen years and I can assure you they work wonders. Do you know why? They are God-ordained. They do not have side effects. They can only do you good all the days of your life. Here is recipe for living a different life and becoming a role model to your peers, embrace it and make yourself proud. If you make yourself proud, my dear child, be sure that I will be proud of myself and you. With my biggest hug, I send you to make a difference in a crowded world this year and beyond. I pray for you that my God will help you. Always remember the child of who you are…You are God’s child. Do have an INSPIRED year.