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Land recaps ‘meltdown’ in U.S. parents’ God-given roles

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–If you consider your television a decent babysitter for your children, you’re not alone. And if you’ve been tempted to rip the cable out of the back of your TV and throw the set out your front door, you’re still not alone — although you are in the minority.

Richard Land believes this dichotomy spells trouble for America’s youth and a new study on parents and their parenting styles proves his point. “Parents don’t believe they are doing a very good job teaching their children essential values,” Land said on his weekly Saturday radio program, “Richard Land Live!” Nov. 2.

“And unfortunately, they are right,” he continued, citing a recently released national survey.

Richard Land Live! is a caller-driven, mid-day talk program that airs each Saturday from noon to 3 p.m. Eastern time over the Salem Radio Network.

On a wide range of issues, from teaching kids self-discipline to basic manners, parents recognize they are falling short of their hopes, according to the study conducted by Public Agenda, a public opinion research organization.

“The failure of parents to provide their children a solid moral foundation and to allow their children’s peers and the media to stand in for them is disheartening,” the nationally syndicated radio host said.

“Parents are aware they are having to compete with television, films and video games which popularize a worldview and associated values that are at odds with what most parents believe the children should be learning,” he explained, citing the parenting survey, “A Lot Easier Said Than Done.”

Nearly half of the parents questioned, 47 percent, said they were concerned about protecting their children from “negative societal influences” such as drugs, criminals and negative messages in the media.

Television received mixed reviews from parents, with most parents, 65 percent, believing themes that are inappropriate for children are often aired during what once was known as the “family hour,” between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. (Eastern), but most, 85 percent, admitted they are comfortable allowing their child to “relax” for a while in front of the television, Land said.

Almost all the parents surveyed, 90 percent, believe television program content is getting coarser every year, with more “adult” themes and obscene language, but few of those surveyed, 22 percent, have ever thought seriously of getting rid of their family television.

“Parents are sincere in their efforts to inculcate positive values in their children,” Land said, “but they are falling short in their duties because of the influence of the popular culture on their family.

“When you have a situation where most children spend more time with characters on the television each day than they do with their parents, it is a real problem,” Land continued. Teenagers spend more than 20 hours a week in front of the television; many of them spend an additional seven and a half hours a week playing video games.

While most parents, 88 percent, supervise what their children are watching on television, only about half, 48 percent, monitor their children’s video game playing, according to a June 2000 study by the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

And the content of video games these youngsters are playing is worse in some cases than the television programs they are watching, Land said, noting that “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City,” a game developed for the PlayStation 2, goes over the top in a media genre that is known for glorifying crime, violence and sex.

The American Psychological Association, meanwhile, has described violent video games as more harmful than violent television shows because the video games are interactive.

The latest version of Grand Theft Auto, which has already sold 4 million copies and isn’t even in stores yet, reportedly allows players to solicit a prostitute, then rob or murder her and get their money back after they have employed her services, Land said, adding this feature is only one of a variety of other equally heinous opportunities for players. The storyline involves players working their way up through a crime syndicate by stealing vehicles and gunning down policemen as well as innocent bystanders.

Another video game, scheduled for a mid-November release, is the first to feature nudity, extreme violence and strippers, he continued, expressing appreciation for the decision of Wal-Mart, KB Toys and Toys ‘R’ Us to refuse to sell the product.

“It is no surprise that nearly three out of four high school students say they have cheated on an exam in the last year,” Land said, reading from a study of 12,000 high school students conducted by the Josephson Institute of Ethics.

“The number who say they have stolen something from a store during the past 12 months rose from 31 percent to 38 percent and the number of teenagers who admit to lying to their parents has moved up 10 percentage points from 1992 to 93 percent,” he said.

Between the movies, television programs and video games they watch or play, many children are living in a virtual world where they make up the rules as they go along, Land said, noting Nielsen Media Research that the average American household has the television on for more than eight hours a day with adults glued to the screen more than a four hours a day — more than their children.

Though 83 percent of parents said it is vital to teach kids self-control, only 34 percent feel they have succeeded with their children, Land said, again referencing the Public Agenda survey.

“Some might suggest we are on the verge of a wholesale meltdown in our God-given role of parents,” Land said, adding there is some truth to that fear.

“We have to do a better job as parents and as a society of instilling basic moral values into our children,” he insisted. “It starts by parents getting a handle on the media’s negative influence over their family and demanding the media restrain its urge to market products that promote a worldview antithetical to positive family values.”

    About the Author

  • Dwayne Hastings