Parents, ask yourselves these questions:
1. Do you know the title of the book your teen is currently reading? Do you know the basic storyline of the book?
2. Do you know what movie your teen last watched?
3. Do you know the lyrics of your teen's favorite song?
4. Have you sat with your child while he played his favorite video game and tried to understand the basic premise of the game?
These are important questions to know the answer to because they allow you to open a stream of dialogue with your child that meets him or her in an area of interest, as well as allowing you to broach thoughtful topics of conversation. Questions you can ask include: What do you like about that book? What do you think of the characters' choices? Do you think the love story is realistic? How does this book intersect with our family's beliefs or worldview?
It is very important to remember to listen to your child's answer and not dive into a lecture if their opinion differs from your own. This is a good time to let your teen process out loud. Ask them leading questions. You may be surprised when they change their own mind about a topic as they hear themselves discuss it.
One website that can greatly help you as you begin this journey with your teen is www.commonsensemedia.org. The Common Sense Media team reviews books, movies, TV shows, video games, apps, websites, and music. Each review answers the questions: "What's the story?"; "Is it any good?"; "What can families talk about?". Reviews also include a "What Parents Need to Know" section listing language content, sexual content, violence, etc. Each review also includes an age appropriateness rating.
Each family will have a different barometer of content age appropriateness and hopefully this blog post will help you find an open stream of dialogue with your child about their choices for entertainment and bring you closer as a family.