Parents: would you allow your child to learn a foreign language you don't understand, make friends with strangers who speak that language, and invite them into your home to fraternize with your children unsupervised? "No way", you say, but let's be honest. Isn't that what so many teens are doing when they listed to Ipods, download videos onto their cell phones, chat on MySpace, or play video games? Children are generally more techno-literate than their parents and as technology gets more and more complex and personalized, it becomes harder to protect our children from the noise of popular culture as it seeps into our lives. We need a handbook to help us fend off this thief of our children's innocence. Teresa Tomeo, veteran TV and radio broadcaster, and host of the popular Catholic Connection radio show on Ave Maria Radio, has done just that in her book "Noise".
"Noise" answers the question so often voiced by the Baby Boomers, "What happened to TV?" When I was growing up, "Andy Griffith" and "I Love Lucy" were shows watched by the entire family, and now sexually charged shows like, "Desperate Housewives" is the most popular with young girls aged 9-12. Kids spend as much time hooked up to some form of media as they do in school these days, so we'd better educate ourselves about what's going on, before they're lost to us, and the Faith.
This book, which is as engrossing as it is terrifying, begins with a thorough explanation of the origins of the problem of immorality in media, and how Teresa, who worked for over 20 years in secular media, came to see the problem for what it is. The latter part of the book is divided into sections by type of media, with chapters dedicated to TV, radio, computer games, internet, music, and advertising, and explains the immoral influence in each. She ends her book with a challenge to each of us to get involved in changing the media culture for Christ, full of concrete suggestions from how to overcome our children's addiction to media, to how to get family-friendly coverage on their local news station.
Did you know that "The DaVinci Code" movie far outsold "The Passion of the Christ"? The situation is dire, but take heart, says Teresa. If you have felt that it was too late to stem the tide of the media's pernicious influence, take heart, says Teresa, new forms of media (talk radio, alternative cable news, and the internet) offer some hope to the prevailing humanist agenda out there. You are seeing the result of my taking her suggestions to heart; I began this blog as an attempt to help Catholic parents navigate the treacherous waters of modern media.
Even those of us who work in the media, however, and think we know a thing or two will be able to learn from Teresa Tomeo's exhaustive research, includes references to current statistics on media influence, and valuable resource section at the back of the book. I have read it twice, and learned new things each time to help my children use media wisely, to educate and inform our faith, not destroy it.
Make "Noise" a part of your armory against the ravages of pop culture on your children, and you might find yourself, like me, installing a second computer in the family den, next to the kids' computer, for yourself.