Look Mom, no cuss words! It must be clean!

More and more I’m finding that many parents have no clue what content their kids are watching day to day.

  “But I use CYBERPATROL and block out porn sites from our home computer!”

  “But I block those movie channels on our cable!”

That’s what they always say. Then I ask, “Do you have iTunes?… YouTube?… MTV?”

I admit… it’s sad when we have to set up so many safeguards to protect our children. And I’m sure some parents over-react and over-protect… while others remain too lenient. I can’t provide you with an exact recipe of where that balance lies, but I can tell you that it starts with becoming aware.

Do you know what the most popular song on iTunes is right now?

Is it explicit?

Have you seen the video?

You see, those nice little “Explicit Lyrics” labels might help us filter out some music, but what will help us discern the appropriateness of the “clean” music? (that’s what our kids call the music without the explicit lyrics labels)

Let’s use the #1 song on iTunes right now as an example. It’s “I Gotta Feeling” by the Black Eyed Peas.

Ask your kids, “Is this song clean?”

“Yes mom! See. No explicit lyrics!”

Are they right? Have you done your parental duty?

Jump on iTunes right now and take a listen. If you listen for a minute or so, it sounds innocent enough. Rather catchy too.

Are you done? Okay… maybe not.

Listen to the whole song, or jump to Google and type in “I Gotta Feeling lyrics.”

Oh my!

This is a little more disconcerting. Listen at almost two minutes when Fergie kicks in:

I feel stressed out
I wanna let it go
Lets go way out spaced out
and loosing all control

Fill up my cup
Mazal tov
Look at her dancing
just take it off

Wow. Maybe you didn’t catch that listening to it the first time.

But let’s be honest. Some parents might think that this is still pretty tame. Okay. Let’s do what the majority of kids do and look at the video. Jump to Google, YouTube or MTV.com. It doesn’t matter… kids use them all. Type “I Gotta Feeling Video and you’ll find it within one click. Now take a quick watch. I warn you- this video has no nudity, no sex and no cursing in it. So, it’s clean, right? Take a peek. Seriously, don’t just stop at Fergie in a thong… watch the whole thing! (Once you watch this, please don’t email me and complain that I told you to watch this. If you think this will be a temptation- do this with someone else in the room.) Remember that most your web filters won’t filter this video, because “it’s clean.”

Here’s my point: many parents I talk to have taken steps to block porn, and most good parents monitor the types of films that their kids watch… but I meet very few parents that have any idea what subtle messages are being fed to our kids through the “clean” media channels daily.

Please understand. I’m not saying that we should raise our kids in a dungeon listening to Psalty’s Christmas Special. I’m not even saying to unplug your computer from the wall or block your Disney channel. I’m just trying to advocate a little bit of education for parents about the lies our kids are hearing every day. The number one hit we just glanced at above has some pretty sensual images in the video that a teenage guy will really struggle seeing. And the song’s message of “letting it go” and “losing control” might hit home for a lot of teenagers.

Is this a good message? Is this the message you want your kids listening to?

Educate yourself. Tune into our Youth Culture Window articles. These articles reveal you the truth about subjects like the place that some teens are getting their sex advice, they give you a summary of the “junk” (literally) your kids would have seen watching the MTV Movie Awards this year, and they expose the subtle messages in today’s PG-13 films. This huge collection of articles contains a gold mine of good information for parents.

In our parent seminars, David and I try to not only expose these subtle media messages that our kids are immersing themselves with, but we also try to teach parents how to filter these influences and teach our kids discernment.

Dialogue with your kids about their media choices. You’ll find that most kids today are pretty honest.

What are your kids exposing themselves too?

About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over a dozen books including the new Get Your Teenager Talking, The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket, The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenager, and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers, Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation, and the 10-Minute Talks series. Jonathan speaks and trains at conferences, churches and events across North America, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan and his wife Lori, and their three teenagers Alec, Alyssa and Ashley live in California.
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This entry was posted in Entertainment Media, Internet, Jonathan's Rant, Sexuality, Youth Culture. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Look Mom, no cuss words! It must be clean!

  1. Patrick says:

    JON! This one was excellent. Thank you all at the Source for always making us think and helping us to navigate in this culture. I will be sending this one to a few of my parents who will appreciate it.
    I hope it helps as much as your uncovering of the “superman song” did ealier last year ~ crazy stuff that just slips past us. “If You Seek Amy”, “junk” at the MTV awards, man, you guys sure do alot of digging for us; this blog is one of the better ones out there. Thank you. May God bless you continually and … enjoy your long weekend :)

  2. Nevender says:

    Whoaah!! Interesting facts you’ve given- I’m no parent but I know what harm such “clean” stuff can cause.

    Thanks for this.

  3. Sharon Wilson says:

    Very interesting. Is there a program that can cut the cuss words on my TV?

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