In today’s fast-paced culture, entertainment options abound, available to us 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can be found nearly anywhere. For many of us, entertainment is just a mere click away, or found right at our very fingertips. You can watch movies, listen to music, and even read a book – all by using the smart phone in your pocket.
Cable television. On-demand movies. Streaming TV on your computer or phone anywhere at anytime (including at work and at school). Spending hours upon hours on social networking sites. Binge-watching our favorite TV shows … downloading the newest app or game, all because we can. Have you ever noticed how much time (and money) you and your friends spend on entertainment? If you’re like most of us, it can really add up if you’re not careful.
Why do we like our entertainment so much?
The truth is, entertainment helps us to relax. It gives us a sense of adventure, or sometimes it can provide us with an escape from reality. It gives us new and exciting things to talk about with our family and friends. It can even serve as a false sense of identity! Like it or not, entertainment is becoming a built-in part of our society. And often, it’s there lurking in the background even when we don’t notice. Christian families are not immune to the pervasive nature of digital entertainment.
Big Changes Over Time
Entertainment has changed dramatically in the last century alone. A hundred years ago, the word “entertainment” meant something altogether different than it does today. It meant taking in a special venue, such as the opera, a ballet, live theater, or perhaps a lecture or the symphony. Later on, with the invention of radio and television, families were given new ways to spend time together at home.
Fast forward to today. Unfortunately, in many ways the entertainment industry went into downward spiral. Media has become preoccupied with sex, violence, profanity, and more. Mainstream entertainment options on radio, television, and online are often no longer safe and family-friendly events.
What went wrong?
How did entertainment become so obsessed with sex and violence? In a word: desensitization. We didn’t go to bed one night with one set of values and wake up the next morning entirely changed. It’s been a gradual process of descending into the abyss. We’ve allowed ourselves to become more and more comfortable with lower standards. And with the passing of time, this desensitization seems to be progressing at a faster pace.
Think back to 1967 when The Rolling Stones performed on The Ed Sullivan Show. They were asked to change the lyrics of their hit “Let’s Spend the Night Together” to a much tamer “Let’s Spend Some Time Together.” Why? Simply because back then, our society regarded casual sex as wrong or immoral. Today, casual sex in entertainment has become the status-quo.
So, what can we do about it?
First and foremost, we need to learn to make wise choices for ourselves and for our families. Here are some things to consider:
- Pay attention to the clock.
How much time are you spending on entertainment and media consumption each day? It can vary wildly from person to person. Recent studies say the average person spends at least 42 minutes a day just on Facebook alone! Another research study claims that individuals age 18 to 36 spend an average of 17.8 hours a day engaging with all different types of media. Of course, some of this time is actually job-related, but it is a good question to ask yourself – How much time are you spending each day on media consumption? Perhaps it’s time to cut back, or go on a short-term media fast.
- Remember, media is powerful.
Ever get a song stuck in your head for days? See a scene from a movie or on TV you can’t un-see? Good, bad, or ugly – images and melodies stick with us for a long time. That’s the power of media. Think about what kinds of things you want “stuck” in your head, or the heads of your children. Like the old-fashioned Sunday school song goes: Oh be careful little eyes what you see!
- Follow the money.
There’s a reason why big corporations will pay millions of dollars for a 30-second Super Bowl commercial. Research tells them you’re likely to remember them if their message is powerful enough or in some cases, shocking enough. Don’t fall prey to shock-factor entertainment.
- Keep your emotions in check.
I don’t know about you, but if I spend too much time on social media, I notice myself becoming depressed or down. Perhaps it’s the negativity people share, or maybe it’s the posts about lavish vacations or new cars I can’t afford – I’m not exactly sure.
Either way, entertainment has the capacity to change our mood. Be cognizant of this and know when it is time to check out and take a break. Several new research studies are showing a strong correlation between social media use and depression – the more time you spend on social media, the more unhappy you feel.
- Choose entertainment that is uplifting.
As we’ve already discussed, media is powerful and has the capacity to alter your feelings. Knowing this, wouldn’t it be wise to choose music, television, movies, and other types of entertainment that are uplifting? Choose the things that make you feel happy and joyful. It’s probably also wise to consider what kinds of people you surround yourself with, and what kind of entertainment they are pushing you to enjoy while in their company.
- Remember what God says about it.
It all comes down to the battle we fight in every area of our lives — the struggle between good and evil. God knew that this would be hard for us. Maybe that is why the first of His Ten Commandments was, “You shall have no other gods before Me.”
It’s actually pretty easy when you break it down. Don’t let entertainment become an idol in your life. Choose worthwhile entertainment that glorifies God, not that which feeds the flesh and our sinful nature.
Of course, entertainment choices would be much simpler for us to make if God had put verses in the Bible that said, “You shall not watch shows that contain explicit violence” or “Thou shalt not listen to songs about premarital sex.” Unfortunately, it isn’t that easy. The good news is, God has given us timeless principles that help answer our questions about entertainment. Digging into the His word and applying what we find there is a sure way to begin making wise entertainment choices for our family.