, Muskogee, OK

July 30, 2013

FORT FAITH: Media may influence us more than we all think

— By Barrett Vanlandingham

In part 4 of my five-part series titled “Set Yourself Free,” I am focusing on negative media influences and how to take back control of our minds.

It is no secret that the media can manipulate us without us even knowing it. That is why companies spend billions on studies and advertising each year to appeal to specific demographics. But it is not only advertisers who have an effect on our thinking. It is actually all forms of media to which we are exposed that can alter our behavior, from how we dress and talk, to what we view as normal and valuable.

That’s a scary thought when you consider who is pulling the strings in the world of media. I once read a survey that listed the religious preferences of movie directors and producers. It said that the majority do not believe in God or do not believe that Jesus is the Son of God. Media content these days is consistent with that kind of belief system.

Author James Steyer’s website researches the ways we are all influenced by the media. Steyer lists these startling statistics and information on his site. Kids experience over seven hours of media per day! Also, violent content is found in 90 percent of movies, 68 percent of video games, 60 percent of TV shows, and 15 percent of music videos. Heavy exposure to violent media can be a risk factor to violent behavior. Forty percent of teens and preteens said they’d recently come across nudity and pornography on the internet. Sixty-eight percent of TV shows have explicit sexual content. And listening to sexual lyrics or seeing sexual images has caused early sexual activity.  The Culture and Media Institute is quoted on as saying that 73 percent of Americans believe “the entertainment industry is having a negative impact on moral values in this country.”

So what can we do about it? In spite of the fact that our media along with our culture is soaked in immorality, the bottom line is that we still have choices. We can be picky about the shows we watch, the music we listen to, the publications we read, the video games we play, and the places we go on the internet. In short, we can take this advice from what the apostle Paul told the Christians in Philippi.

“Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you (Philippians 4:8-9).”

The catch is, as Paul put it best, we must put these positive and Godly attributes into practice. If we choose to watch, read, or take part in something, and it does not fit the description Paul wrote about, we cannot expect God’s peace to be with us.  What will your choice be? Have a great week!  

Reach Barrett Vanlandingham at the Fort Gibson Church of Christ at (918) 478-2222 or