Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Do you know what's popular?

One of the things kids face is a barrage of entertainment that is anything but positive.  Every year, I try to check the winners of the Teen Choice and Kid's Choice Award shows and many times I find myself shaking my head at what they are choosing as their favorites.  More often than not, the things that are winning are not kid friendly...especially where the Teen Choice Award winners are concerned.  And if the teens are watching or listening to it, their younger siblings are probably watching/listening as well.

Just like when you watch the Emmy's or the Oscars and the winner may not be your choice, it is the same way with kids and teen award shows.  Just because something wins doesn't mean all the kids in your department are watching or listening to the winner.  However, it is almost a given that they are aware of the winners and probably have friends who like that artist, television show, or movie even if they do not.  And that being the case, we need to be aware of them too.

It sounds easy...simply know what is popular in the world of children, but it's not.  It changes all the time.  What was popular last month may not be popular this month.  The band the kids couldn't get enough of  when they were in 4th grade may be uncool when they reach 5th grade. The toy that everyone had to have last Christmas is collecting dust on the shelves by February.  The game all the boys were playing on their phone in May might be deleted by August.  You could spend hours every week trying to keep up with it all and let's face it...we don't have that kind of time.  So, what do we do?

If the kids in your department are excited about something, they will talk about it...a lot.  What shows are they talking about watching?  What song in stuck in their head?  What books are they reading? What apps are they loving?  They may walk right up to you and say, "Do you watch __________?  I love that show!"  But we are often so busy before and after church services that we don't always hear what they are telling us.  Make a point to listen to what they are saying.  You might be surprised at what you will hear.

A quick google search for "Teen Choice Award Winners" or "Kid's Choice Awards Winners" will bring up lots of articles about those shows.  Take a few minutes and look them over.  Take note of the artists or movies that win more than one award.  Maybe take a few minutes to look up the names of any winning artist, show, internet celebrity, or movie that you are not familiar with.  These shows also give awards for video games and social media personalities so it really is an overview of all the media that in coming at the kids.  This doesn't have to take a long time, but it can give you an idea of what is popular.

We may not have time to watch every television show or movie that comes out geared at kids, but we can do our best to see the ones that seem to be the most popular.  Is there a song that your kids are listening to repeatedly?  There is probably a video on YouTube of that song.  Take five minutes and watch it.  Catch at least one episode of that show they all love to watch.  The game they love to play on their phones may be a free download.  If so, try it out.  See what has made it so addictive. We may not see it all, but we can at least make an effort to know what they are seeing.  

You might not think this sort of thing is important, but here is what I've noticed over the years.  If what is important to the kids is not even on our radar, they will listen to us less.  Not because they don't like us, but because we do not seem to understand them.  If they talk to us about their favorite show and we know what it's about, or if we know who the new popular artist is on the radio, it shows them that we find their interests important...and by extension that they are important.  And if they know we find them important, they are more likely to listen to us on things that we find important...like our Bible lessons.  And they will also be willing to listen to us when we explain why we don't like the lyrics of a particular song or how the message of such and such a movie isn't appropriate.  As the old saying goes, "They have to know you care before they care what you know."

That's all for this week!   


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