Health – Is Popular Culture Healthy?

Our young people are growing up in an age where they are exposed to hundreds of television channels showing all manner of programs on different subjects. They also have immediate access to an unlimited amount of information to people near and far through e-mail and instant messaging. Besides the computer, there are DVDs, video games, magazines, advertising and malls to fill each young person’s life. Most young people between 2 years old and 18 years old will spend at least, if not more than, 5 hours a day absorbing this so-called popular culture. This popular culture is a very destructive force in their lives because of the values at its foundation. The culture of past generations in the Western world used to reflect Christian values, but the popular culture today reflects different values. We are now in serious danger physically, mentally and spiritually.

Instead of benefitting from our Christian cultures and background, the popular media is now implanting bad values, attitudes, and beliefs in our young people. They are being brainwashed as to what they need, and the majority of the time, their wants have no redeeming value. Anything that may be emotionally, socially or spiritually unhealthy is impressed upon the young people and is very destructive. Some examples include advertising that connects certain toys, clothes, food, or drinks with being popular or cool, or music that encourages racism, sexism, drug use, or violence.

We must remember that even “good” popular culture sometimes is not very good for young people. Many of the daily activities which include television, computers, ipods and cell phones teach children bad habits which include:

  1. Teaching them to be observers and not participants.
  2. Experiencing life vicariously instead of directly. In other words, the experience is felt or enjoyed through imagined participation in the experience of another.
  3. Sedentary games instead of physical activity.
  4. Indirect social contact with others rather than real contact. Many people today have lost the ability to interact positively with others. Even in families there is no interaction; many do not talk with each other because they have nothing to say.
  5. Preventing them from participating in activities that will support their intellectual, emotional, cultural, spiritual, and physical development.

Julius Gilbert White explains as follows:

It is a matter of common knowledge that human existence consists essentially of the exercise of three sets of powers: (1) the physical, (2) the mental, (3) the spiritual.

The physical body and life provide the habitation for the mental powers, which give life to them and so make their function possible.

Likewise, the physical life and the mental powers combined make it possible for men to meditate upon and conceive spiritual things, accept spiritual ideals and truths, and render a spiritual service, and so have a spiritual experience. Without the physical life there can be neither mental powers nor spiritual experience.

Everything depends, then, upon the physical life, which is the foundation of the entire structure of human existence, including the spiritual life, which is the highest object of man’s existence.

“The physical life consists essentially of the use of five senses—abilities to see, hear, taste, smell, and feel. If the foundation be destroyed the entire structure is ruined.” Julius Gilbert White, The Christian’s Experience, (Northwestern Publishing Association, Sacramento, California) 37, 38.

The devil wants to destroy the foundation of our young people. He knows that if he destroys the physical life, then the mental powers and spiritual experience will also be destroyed.

The following is taken from an article in the magazine Parenting.

Television, movies, and video games glamorize violence, sexuality, wealth, celebrity, and the use of alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes. Fashion and celebrity magazines affect how girls think about their bodies, the amount they diet and exercise, and the occurrence of eating disorders. The internet gives your children limitless access to a universe of inappropriate information. In sum, popular culture in excess and without guidance is destroying your children psychologically, emotionally, socially, spiritually, and physically.

Popular culture is like a network of saboteurs that infiltrate your family’s lives with stealth and deception, hiding behind entertaining characters, bright images, and fun music. You probably don’t notice half of the unhealthy messages being conveyed to your children. It is also an invading army that overwhelms your children with these destructive messages. It attempts to control every aspect of your children’s lives: their values, attitudes, and beliefs about themselves and the world that they live in; their thoughts, emotions, and behavior; their needs, wants, goals, hopes, and dreams; their interests and avocations; their choices and their decisions. With this control, popular culture can tell children what to eat and drink, what to wear, what to listen to and watch, and children have little ability to resist.

The mere presence of popular culture shouldn’t be your greatest worry. Rather, your greatest concern should be the influence that this presence has on your children. Few people really understand how popular culture affects children’s lives. Even fewer people realize how truly harmful it is to children, families, communities, and to our society as a whole. Popular culture attacks children at their most basic level, the values that guide their lives.

Popular culture promotes the worst values in children and disguises them all as entertainment. Reality TV, for example, has made the “seven deadly sins”—pride, avarice, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony, and sloth—attributes to be admired. Throw in selfishness, deceit, spite, humiliation, cruelty, and vengeance—all qualities seen and revered in popular culture—and you have the personification of the worst kind of person. Popular culture makes heroic decidedly unheroic values, characters, and behavior. Source: (look in the index for “Know your Children’s enemy”).

Remember the family unit. “Let parents seek, in their own character and in their home life, to exemplify the love and beneficence of the heavenly Father. Let the home be full of sunshine. This will be worth far more to your children than lands or money. Let the home love be kept alive in their hearts, that they may look back upon the home of their childhood as a place of peace and happiness next to heaven. The members of the family do not all have the same stamp of character, and there will be frequent occasion for the exercise of patience and forbearance; but through love and self-discipline all may be bound together in the closest union.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 176.

So, shut down the computers and turn off the TV and cell phones and spend some time doing things together as a family. You could put on your running shoes and take your children for a walk out in the sunshine or dig a vegetable garden. Be creative and choose activities that are physically, mentally and spiritually healthy that will build tight family bonds and happy memories.

Do your best to keep your family healthy!