Friday, August 3, 2012

A Commercial for Commercials -- Using Commercials to Train Your Kids in Critical Thinking

     Usually, our family is not much of a television watching family.  However, we have watched the Olympics every night since the opening ceremony.  We have been eating in the living room (which we never normally do) and rooting for the United States with all our hearts.  Watching the Olympics has given us lots of opportunities to discuss hard work, adversity, perseverance, determination, and many other virtues.  On the flip side, the commercials are giving us opportunities to teach our kids some other lessons.  Take, for example, the following scene:
     A man walks into a bar and orders a beer.  A girl notices his choice in beer and is instantly attracted to this man.  She walks over to this man, alluringly.  My husband and I crack up laughing.  
     Actually, we really did crack up, and our kids wanted to know what was so funny, so we asked, "What is this commercial saying?"  Buy this beer -- get this beautiful girl.  Then we discussed, "Is that realistic?  Do you really want to date a girl who is attracted to you because of your beer choice?  Is a bar the best place to meet the girl you want to spend your life with?  Where would be a better place to meet a girl?"  It was an interesting conversation, and my husband and I still crack up every time we see this commercial.
     Today, I was thinking about our discussions about this commercial and others and realized that such discussions are good in other ways as well because we need to teach our kids to think critically about the world around them.  The world bombards them with so many messages, and so much is simply untrue.  Today, I saw this:

That's a really a funny "quote," but at the same time, incredibly sad.  
     Our kids need to know that they should not believe everything they read in print or the internet.  They need to be aware of how advertisers are trying to sway them -- manipulate them.  They need to understand how television shows are insidiously chipping away at family values and replacing them with ideas that are not Biblical by using emotional manipulation and humor.  They need to realize that many people do not hold the same beliefs as they do and how to handle opinions that explicitly contradict their own.  
     As our family watches commercials, I'm thinking about how we can examine the messages those commercials are trying to send in order to help my boys know better how to evaluate the world around them critically with the ultimate goal of strengthening and developing their faith.  Yep, we can train our kids even when watching commercials.

Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Deuteronomy 6:5-7

1 comment:

  1. Great thoughts, as usual! I need to redeem the commercials more often!