This may be hard for you to believe, but your parents are people too. That’s right! They have thoughts, ideas, likes and dislikes. You may be baffled at how they could possibly dislike Instagram, or say that you spend too much time on the Internet (is that even possible?). You might ask yourself why they don’t like your loud music, the shows you watch on television or horror movies. It’s because you and your parents come from two very separate generations.
First, consider that the first call placed on a mobile telephone was in 1973. Back then, the cellphone weighed about two-and-a-half pounds (imagine carrying around a small bag of oranges), and could only make a phone call lasting thirty minutes. Mobile phones were made primarily for one purpose – making phone calls. Your parents were probably familiar with satellite phones and car phones, but the idea of having a portable phone was meant for business rather than entertainment. Fast forward to the present day, according to the Pew Research Center , “nearly two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone” and “19% of Americans rely to some degree on a smartphone…for staying connected to the world around them.” If you were born in the late-90s or early 2000s, then chances are you know your way around a smartphone, which has capabilities that exceed even the mobile phone. You’re most likely an expert in downloading apps, uploading videos to the Internet, and finding the answer to any question on Google. The reason this is true is because you were born in the Internet Age, also known as the Digital Age or New Media Age.
The Digital Age is characterized by a shift in how people find and consume information. This is the fundamental difference between your generation, and your parents’ generation. Before the Internet (which came to prominence as recently as the 1980s) human beings relied on books, newspapers, teachers and word-of-mouth to learn about new things. Now, we use social media, television news outlets and the Internet to satisfy our thirst for knowledge. Another disconnect between the generations is how social media is utilized to glean knowledge. While you log into Twitter to learn of the latest celebrity show down, your parents may wish that you were using another source to read up on the latest world news. Your parents want you to use these resources to grow and understand the world around you, rather than be another consumer.
So, when your parents ask you to spend less time on your phone and more time talking to others, this may seem strange to you. In your mind you may think, “Why talk when you can text?” Or, “Why ask when you can just type it into your favorite search engine?” Your parents ask you to engage in more interpersonal communication because this is a trademark of their generation, and a reflection of the values in which they grew up. When they were kids, there was no Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. The scope of interaction between friends was significantly more limited than it is now – they had to interact in person during real-time. Your parents are just as baffled when you say that you’d rather Skype a friend than see them in person.
As far as music and television are concerned, your parents may not like your taste in that either. Again, this is due to a difference what was expected and acceptable in their generation. Certain genres of music that are around now, weren’t easily accessible a decade ago. It used to be that only the biggest media markets had more than a country, top-40 pop, classical and news radio station. Styles of music are now more blended with many more subsets. Your parents may enjoy grooving to smooth jazz or folksy rock, while you love hip-hop and dub step. In twenty years or so you may find yourself complaining about the new music the “young people” are listening to, and reminiscing about when Taylor Swift was on the radio.
In regards to television, the standards and restrictions have come a long way. Scenes of a violent or sexual nature that would have never made it past the editing room in your parents’ day (due to the Hayes Code, implemented by the MPAA, which set a standard of what could and could not be shown on television; it has since been discontinued) are now commonplace on the modern TV screen. While you may be able to stomach seeing a man’s arm cut off, your parents are probably shocked that it’s allowed in mainstream media. And the sight of two people “getting it on” would have never been allowed on television while your parents were growing up because the idea of sex was held in higher regard.
Your parents engage with movies differently because music or other forms of psychological teasing were used to create a mood. Now that more can be visualized, psychological build up is obsolete. Cultural preferences like these are somewhat dictated by sentiment. So the culture that surrounded you during your childhood is more likely to dictate your actions than the culture that surrounds you now. The same is true for your parents. If your parents don’t want you watching television shows and movies with this questionable content it doesn’t mean that they’re prudes. They have many years of experience and just want to set healthy boundaries for you. There is a place for your parent to know what you “should” see or “should not” see (as 1 Corinthians 10:23 says, “all things may be permissible, but not all things are beneficial.”) Media should be something meaningful and creative – a reflection of our creative, all-knowing God. If the media industry isn’t going to set higher standards, be grateful that your parents are guiding you to look for more authentic media.
Despite you and your parent’s differences in taste, you should always respect their judgment. God gave you parents to guide you and protect your heart from any harm the world might choose to inflict. If they ask you to spend less time on your phone, the best thing you can do is to listen. You’re still an individual, and that means that you can enjoy different types of music or television than other people in your family. But, you might be surprised to find that your parents know quite a lot (they were around before the internet), so it’s always best to heed their advice. Also, try consuming some of their media—listen to some of their songs, and watch a few episodes of a television show they enjoy. Branch out and attempt to experience the media that isn’t within your immediate space. Who knows, you may be inspired!