We all know that today’s cultural values have degraded to a point never before seen in this country. We bemoan the change but most see an overwhelming problem with no effective solution. How can we change the values of an entire nation? It’s helpful to know how they changed in the first place…
Think on those numbers a moment. Nearly twice as much time was spent with mass media as with church, parents, and school combined. Now factor in that, according to a UCLA study conducted every ten years since 1967, the 16 values taught by the most popular children’s TV shows almost completely changed. In 1997, Community Feeling and Benevolence were the top two values taught. Fame was nearly last, at #15. By 2007, the top five values had shifted to (in order) Fame, Achievement, Popularity, Image, and Financial Success. Community Feeling had fallen to #11. Benevolence to #13.
Want to see the result of teaching kids that fame and popularity are life goals? Watch this:
Media raised up a generation of kids – now adults – valuing their own fame, popularity, image, and net worth instead of modeling engagement in their communities and helping others.
But it’s not just a kids’ media problem. As adults engage with more and more media, we don’t serve as the media filters for children that we once did.
A 2014 Annenberg Public Policy study proved that adults decrease the age of acceptability for sex and violence the more we are exposed to it in our own media selections. Two of every three media choices on television have sexual content. If we limit it to prime time shows only, the number is almost every episode of every show. We’re watching it. And the mere act of watching it makes us unconsciously lower the age at which we think kids can watch it. And we know from RAND’s study in 2004 and again in 2008 that the more kids watch sex or even hear it discussed in entertainment, the lower the age at which they will engage in sex.“Entertaining” media is breaking the backbone of our cultural values.
Producers weren’t always this irresponsible with media’s power. The Production Code (put into place in 1930 and enforced by the Production Code Administration from 1934 until 1966 despite movies being designated as a form of “free speech” by the Supreme Court in 1952) noted:
We know what sets values and behaviors for society: entertaining media.
The culture of our country cannot withstand the onslaught of irresponsible media offerings any longer. It’s time to acknowledge once again that our power to influence via movies, TV, and other entertainment impacts individual lives and the very fabric of social life. We must create enriching, entertaining media that all will interact with, regardless of their faith affiliation or current lifestyle. All things may now be permissible, but all things are not profitable for humankind.
If you care about the state of the nation’s values and believe with us that the degradation of society must cease – if you are concerned about the culture in which your children and grandchildren will raise their families – join with us.
It takes all of us, working together, to slay the giant of irresponsible entertainment…but it can be done. Start today by joining SON.