- - Wednesday, February 15, 2023

For most parents, life is a chaotic mishmash of work, play, kids’ activities and other bits of pandemonium. It’s an almost endless balancing act of bouncing among all of our essential responsibilities.

As a result, many of us are simply looking for some breathing space to recollect ourselves and recharge, and that’s often when a tablet or TV is handed over to our kids to peruse at will. And it’s, hands down, one of the most witless acts perpetuated at the hands of today’s parents.

As a dad of two young children, trust me: I get it. We all need a break sometimes. But the business of life isn’t an excuse for such substandard parenting. Too many people today are either lazily or inadvertently exposing their kids to unthinkable and potentially damaging content.

Sex, unrestrained violence, drugs, unimaginable language, disturbing themes and other dangers lurk around almost every corner of social media, video-sharing websites like YouTube, and even the traditional entertainment venues once safe from ostentatious smut. 

Protecting, molding and shaping our kids’ minds should be our ultimate priority, yet many of us have handed them over to tablets, TVs and the bowels of the internet, allowing these cesspools of moral depravity to fill their hearts and minds with irredeemable garbage.

Then, many of us clutch our pearls, wondering in bewilderment why so many of our kids are mimicking what they see. Proverbs 22:6 reads, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” It doesn’t say, “Hand them an iPad, let them run wild, and then hope for the best.” 

SEE ALSO: Study: Kids’ screen time stayed elevated after COVID restrictions ended

Parents are tasked with raising kids, not allowing technology to rear them. Yet a lot of parents today fall into one of two categories: they’re either so busy they’re not monitoring what’s being consumed or they’re openly allowing their kids to devour whatever entertainment they so choose. 

The latter is a consequence of the “cool parent” dynamic that is often evidence of an amalgam of profound selfishness and foolishness, especially considering the disastrous content rampant in today’s culture.

Tragically, both dynamics yield the same result, though: poor parenting, distorted worldviews and an influx of information with which children aren’t yet equipped to contend with. 

Young minds are immature and malleable, soaking in every bit of information they encounter, which is why parents in both cohorts should take heed. For those in the first group: again, I get it. I have two young kids and our lives get pretty chaotic. Yet I’m also keenly aware of what’s out there and how it can affect children when they’re willy-nilly exposed to it.

Are you really comfortable handing over unrestricted tablet and internet access to your children when studies show most teens have already seen pornography by age 13? Are you not aware that between 2019 and 2020, the number of 9-12-year-olds who think it’s normal to share nude photos and videos with one another soared from 13% to 21%?

And if you’re wondering where kids are getting these ideas, look no further than the devices you’ve put in their hands. With new research showing the average daily screen time for kids aged 4 to 12 increasing by almost two hours per day compared to before the pandemic, these problems are only growing.

Parents, we’re tasked with protecting and guiding our kids in every facet of life. But, for some reason, too many of us have claimed an exemption from entertainment and media content. It’s as though the hearts and minds of America’s next generation are simply not worthy of preserving, cultivating and growing.

Many of our children are on the brink today, just one sexual, violent or compromised video away from the algorithm serving them up platters of negative content that can transform their worldviews and send them reeling into an abyss of confusion. 

I can understand the first group, to some degree. Life can be exhausting, but parenting is a responsibility. It’s the second group — the “cool parents” who think it’s appropriate to inundate their kids with age-inappropriate language and content — with whom I simply don’t resonate. 

Spoiler alert: Your kids aren’t your friends. They’re human beings you’ve been tasked to raise up, with dignity, kindness, compassion and truth. Too many are skirting this responsibility and exposing children to moral relativism that could inevitably hamper their growth as humans.

But I suppose none of this should surprise us, as the chef’s kiss of this entire charade is the reality that parents, too, are desensitized. The Annenberg Public Policy Center released a study in 2014 showing something quite disturbing: the more parents themselves were exposed to sex and violence in movies, the less likely they were to say children shouldn’t see such content.

“Parents become desensitized to both violence and sex in movies, which may contribute to the increasing acceptance of both types of content by both parents and the raters employed by the film industry,” the study’s conclusion read.

It’s time we all step up to the plate, assess our own content intake, and, at the least, protect our kids. With record depression and confusion plaguing the next generation, this is every parent’s innate duty. Let’s pray for fewer people to skirt it.

• Billy Hallowell is a digital TV host and interviewer for Faithwire and CBN News and the co-host of CBN’s “Quick Start Podcast.” Hallowell is the author of four books, including “Playing with Fire: A Modern Investigation into Demons, Exorcism, and Ghosts,” and “The Armageddon Code: One Journalist’s Quest for End-Times Answers.”

• Billy Hallowell can be reached at bhallowell@washingtontimes.com.

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