Focus on the Family

The Family Media Guardian

by Rhonda Handlon

Parents today have a lot of tasks that demand their time — cleaning, cooking, banking, laundry, chauffeuring — the list goes on and on. Yet there’s another critical role crying for attention in many homes: family media guardian.

What does a mom or dad (or both) need to take up this role?

The job may seem overwhelming at first glance. From TV, music and movies to video/dvd rentals, video games and the Internet, the sheer vastness of the media boggles the mind.

In addition, the availability of mobile devices and wireless Internet access away from home add to the need for you to provide your kids with guidelines that allow them to learn about life in the manner and pace you set.

Fear not. Our "Family Media Guardian" series is here to help.


How much TV does your family watch? Here's advice for balancing TV time and its influence in your home.

by Rhonda Handlon

Television viewing has grown steadily since the first sets were introduced in the late 1920s. American kids aged 2-18 now spend an average of 5:29 hours using media each day, with the lion’s share of that attributed to TV. Studies show extensive viewing may be to blame for aggressive or violent behavior, poor academic performance, precocious sexuality, obesity and substance abuse.

How do you respond to these studies? Most parents fall somewhere between tossing out the TV and hiring it as a full-time babysitter. Yet few are comfortable with their family viewing habits. Thanks to a long-running public debate, we have a wealth of good advice to draw from. Here’s some of the best:


Music is a very influential medium. Have you given any thought to how it affects your family dynamics?

by Rhonda Handlon

Music is a powerful medium with long arms and strong associations. It can set the tone of a home, transport us to a special time and place, and even define an entire generation.

Have you given any thought to the role it plays in your family dynamics? The family media guardian will want to think about the following matters.


Compared to other forms of media, movies offer parents greater control over what their children watch.

by Rhonda Handlon

Compared to television, movies offer us greater control over what we view and more information to use in making wise choices. Some tips for the family media guardian:


Compared to seeing them at the theatre, renting or buying movies for home viewing has a few unique pluses and minuses.

by Rhonda Handlon

Criteria that apply to videos and DVDs are the same as those for movies, but this medium has a few unique pluses and minuses:

Video Games

While most video games are not as troublesome as Grand Theft Auto, all deserve the scrutiny of the family media guardian.

by Rhonda Handlon

Clearly, most video games are not as troublesome as Grand Theft Auto. But all deserve the attention of the family media guardian before becoming a part of your child’s game collection. How can parents be sure their child’s video games are OK? Most of us can’t play each one (in fact, the very thought makes the less coordinated break out in a cold sweat). Here are some tips:

Next Steps/Related Information

Popular questions, plus related resources and articles on media discernment for parents

Popular questions on this topic: