How to help young people avoid movies of questionable content

As a teacher of media literacy, I find that many youth deny the fact that questionable movies have negative effects on their feelings and spirituality.

One LDS student commented: "Oh, it doesn't bother me. I just let [the bad stuff] pass through [my head]. You've got to put up with some of it if you want to see a good movie."Research contradicts this youth's erroneous belief.

Movies are targeted primarily at youth and young adults. They are generally designed to titillate and arouse worldly desires. PG-13 and R films are guaranteed to contain material offensive to the Spirit. To counter negative movie effects, I suggest the following:

Avoid PG-13 and R films.

Pay close attention to story/plot and your feelings. Note how specific images, sounds and dialogue make you feel (happy, sad, aroused, etc.).

Leave the theater.

Find alternative activities. - Ralph E. Carmode, Jacksonville, Ala.

What we did:

Live as you teach

Choose you this day. . . . If we hope to see our children walk in righteousness, then we must be prepared to do the same. We have been counseled that the greatest of the Lord's work will be done within the walls of our own homes. Likewise, the youth are looking to all adults to see who we've chosen to serve.

Instruct sufficiently. We have had opportunities to be "instructed sufficiently" to know good from evil. (2 Ne. 2:5.) Prayer, family scripture study, family home evening, personal interviews, and other teaching moments are all appropriate times to instruct children in the ways of the Lord. Do not wait!

Live as you teach. As Christ's people, we must turn from evil in all of its forms and embrace that which is good. Though this may be a challenge, we will be blessed for our efforts.

Realize blessings of righteous living. The Lord promises blessings for those who obey His commandments. Teach youth that these blessings are far more valuable than anything the world can offer. Our family need not be embarrassed if we choose to shun inappropriate movies. Who have we allowed to set our standard for living? Our Lord or man? - Teresa Lauritzen, Coburg, Ore.

Be example

The best way to help young people avoid anything is by example. An ad for a new movie comes on the television. It promises to be an exciting or interesting movie, but then they give the rating - R. "Well, we can forget that one." And we do.

I also told my daughter and my six sons that if a teacher ever started showing anything or talking about something that was offensive or made them feel bad that they could get up and walk out, and I would support them. So don't just talk the talk. Walk the walk. - Judy Morgan, Morton, Wash.

Didn't feel right

I recently had an experience with my sister, Kate, at a friend's house. We were just hanging out when someone said, "Let's watch a movie." It was rated PG-13. "Good. I can watch it," I thought. We popped the movie in, and right away I didn't feel right. Kate was sitting beside me and I could tell she didn't feel right either. We decided that this movie wasn't for us, so we tried to call our parents to come get us, but someone was using the phone. I asked Kate where we should go. "The bathroom, I guess. There's nowhere else." We sat in the bathroom and talked and had fun.

Later, we called our parents to pick us up. They were very proud of us for avoiding the movie, and I know Heavenly Father was too! - Megan Fujikawa, 15, Cincinnati, Ohio

Parents approve

The way that my friends and I solve this problem is every Friday we get together at someone's house and watch movies that the parents have approved. This keeps us from watching anything that our parents would not approve of. The youth hosting the party have to have one of the parents home during the whole time that their friends are over. The most important part is to make sure that the parents know what the youth are watching, and the parents have viewed the movie before it is seen by the youth. - Kassi Blaser, Topeka, Kan.

Same standards

I find that the best policy is to keep the same standards I set for my 13-year-old daughter. I tell her, as well as my family and friends, "Avoid planting in your mind poisonous images because they remain there forever."

Then I practice what I preach - as a producer and a viewer. Last year, I retired from a 15-year career in television, and since then have been able to cut back on my TV-viewing at home. But one thing that remains constant is the type of movies and programs I watch at home or at the theater. For example, if a TV movie or program contains questionable content, I simply change the channel. I do not rent or go out to see R-rated and some PG-13 movies, regardless of their so-called historical or redeeming value to society.

Be the example because, as we all know, actions speak louder than words. - Linda Darnell, Mesa, Ariz.

What a difference

When I was in high school, my early-morning seminary teacher told us about his standard for movie watching. He informed us that it was his practice to watch only movies that were rated G and bore testimony that it had greatly improved his life. I thought he was crazy, so I decided to try it for myself. For over a year, I watched only movies that had earned a G rating. What a difference it made in my life. With my mind uncluttered with the things of the world, I was able to focus on things of the Spirit. I have never been closer to the Lord than I was at that time. - Kathryn Millar, Salt Lake City, Utah

How to checklist:

1 Set an example; live the standards you set for youth.

2 Help young people recognize difference between good, evil; teach gospel in home.

3 Praise for courage to say no to unwholesome viewing.

4 Be aware of movies, programs youth are watching; preview them, if possible.


May 23 "How to become more involved in political, community and government affairs."

May 30 "How to find joy in the morning."

June 6 "How to help heal a family after a loved one has caused deep hurt."

June 13 "How to avoid the gambling trap."

June 20 "How to utilize modern technology to enhance family history research."

June 27 "How to help young people learn homemaking skills."

July 4 "How to develop more gratitude as a family for freedom."

Also interested in letters on these topics: "How to supplement your regular income," "How to rear children in light and truth," "How to avoid greed," "How to be more resilient in day-to-day life."

Had any good experiences or practical success in any of the above subjects? Share them with our readers in about 100-150 words. Write the "How-to" editor, Church News, P.O. Box 1257, Salt Lake City, Utah 84110, send fax to (801) 237-2524 or use internet E-mail: Please include a name and phone number. Contributions may be edited or excerpted and will not be returned. Due to limited space, some contributions may not be used; those used should not be regarded as official Church doctrine or policy. Material must be received at least 12 days before publication date.

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