Fr. Roy Cimagala

CONSIDERING THE confusing and dangerous stuff children are exposed to in the press and in the world these days, the families should be alerted and equipped to effectively handle the media for the good of everyone.

In the US and other developed countries, this concern is spreading and appropriate initiatives, mostly private and personal, have sprung up. Though things in general in our country may not be that complicated as in these places, we need to prepare because we are heading toward that direction.

First is to warn everyone about the nature and purpose of the media, and their potential to do good and evil. We need to go past our innocent, if not naïve stage, insofar as our attitude and skills on how to treat the media is concerned.

Everyone should be told to be vigilant and discerning, because the media today cannot anymore be treated as safe, neutral and impartial material. They have become significant shapers of our thoughts and attitudes toward life in general.

This is because a lot of factors go into their making and running, factors that affect us not so much physically as definitely emotionally, mentally, and socially. In fact, they can strongly influence us spiritually and morally.

The media nowadays just don’t report things anymore. They preach! They just don’t give out data and information, figures and statistics. They form our values and attitudes. They transmit all sorts of isms and ideologies. They are now a dominant force in our culture.

Even if in a particular paper, they are just showing pictures of beautiful men and women, there already are tremendous amount of unaccounted values, good and bad, being conveyed. They can powerfully affect our faith and morals.

I’m glad that more and more people are becoming aware of this disturbing drift of our media world. Sometimes this awareness was earned at a great price, as when a son has become obsessed with some harmful thing due to a large extent to the media.

People are complaining that there are now a lot of junk and bunk in the press, a lot of noise, inflated words and useless images. The news reporting cannot even be done straight without straying into editorializing.

And in the opinion sections, people notice that many claims and arguments, though flimsy, shallow and narrow, are unashamedly bloated to sound like dogmas themselves.

Many opinion-makers play God, except that they express themselves very poorly. Sometimes it’s obvious that they have deserted both logic and good manners in pressing their views.

The feedback section says hardly anything substantial. Some papers receive the views of the same individuals everyday. Their ability to present the general thinking of people is highly questionable.

This is not to mention what we see in the other sections like lifestyle and entertainment where all sorts of unchecked stories and images clutter with impunity.

We have more or less the same observations with respect to TV, radio, and, of course, the Internet that’s becoming the most treacherous of all the means of mass communication. There you can have porn and other dangerous stuff readily available even to kids.

The families have to face this challenge realistically. It obviously requires a lot of effort and resources, but it’s all worth it. When we organize ourselves better, we can do more in achieving our goal and ideals.

Family life should be nourished and strengthened with many and abiding practices, like parents spending time with their children everyday, having meals together, chats, get-togethers and praying.

Norms of prudence should be put in place. TV and the Internet should be in open common rooms, never in bedrooms. Their use should be regulated, especially when children are involved.

Parents should closely watch how their children are taking what they read and watch in the media. Are the children getting more responsible or more self-absorbed? Parents should be quick to give guidance, clarifying things and giving criteria for judgments.

Family organizations should be fostered to better cope with the rising challenges insofar as handling media is concerned. They can also influence the way our media are organized and how they do their work.