Screen Smart Families: Ideas for Bringing Music Into Your Home
Welcome to the Screen-Smart Families series on JellyTelly Parents. Gen X and Millennial parents are the first to manage a whole new world of media and technology with our kids and many of us feel overwhelmed or completely at a loss on how to approach this large task that we face every moment of every day. We're pulling from the collective wisdom of many of our well-respected JellyTelly bloggers, offering over 100 years of combined parenting experience, largely within our current media-driven culture.
Music! How does music fit into a series about being a screen-smart family? When we were brainstorming topics to help parents navigate the world of screens, technology and kids, music struck us as a pretty tricky subject for a lot of moms and dads.
Between balancing what you want to listen to, what your kids want to listen to, lyrics, subject matter, decent musical composition and more, it’s hard to even think about how the technology piece plays in to your family’s music choices. But as we learned from some of our JellyTelly bloggers, the medium of music can be a true partner to parents.
For example, several of our surveyed bloggers told us that they use Amazon Prime for music, because it allows parents to create safe playlists and parents can see all the music that was played on their account.
There are also tools like Spotify that allow you to create playlists, but as with Amazon Prime, the concern is that kids could stumble into music you don’t want them to hear.
But how do you decide what is ok for them to hear and what’s not? That barometer will look different for each family, but here are some great ideas to kick off a conversation from some of our JellyTelly bloggers:
From early on we have tried to steer our kids to music that is honoring to God...So they have been raised mostly listening to Christian music. As they have gotten into their teen years, we don't have "rules" but we might talk about "WHY" would they want to listen to that?" if something comes up. The only time that really has come up is when our guitar-playing son wants to learn a song because it is really good guitar music etc., but I don't like it because it is old rock or something, haha. My husband (also a guitar player) makes the call then…"
- Monica Swanson, The Grom Mom
We use Amazon Unlimited so the kids can have access to it but they always ask first. Never browse without us present. And we can set parental controls. We love all kinds of music in our house so we allow the kids to listen to anything that is appropriate. The kids love Kidz Bop, which I didn't love at first, but I monitor/listen with them and some songs have brought up great conversations that might not have come up otherwise.
- Jess Wolstenholm, Gather & Grow
Every year I make her a "mix CD" of [my daughter’s] favorite songs from the year, including pop music, country music, kids music and Christian music. If she likes a pop song that has bad words, I try to find a Kidz Bop version for her. But sometimes I have to just say NO to - not that we won't occasionally listen to it in the car, but I'm not putting it on her CD or iPod for her to blast in her ears over and over.
If I'm questioning whether or not a song is okay for the kids, I ask myself a few questions:
- Do I want to explain these lyrics to them?
- Do I want them to sing these lyrics out loud?
- Do I want them to sing these lyrics at school or church or at their grandparents' house?
Thinking through those things usually helps me figure out if I'm okay with a song or not.
- Mary Carver, Giving Up on Perfect
I think Christian music is important--kids are sponges. Their brains soak up every word and I want their brains soaking up words that are not just positive, but inspired by God's Word and point to Him. We have several playlists on Amazon Music that we've all kinda curated together and they generally just play those.
- Amanda White, OhAmanda
Making Your Own Screen-Smart Family Plan:
Here are some key questions about music to ask as your formulate your own Screen-Smart Family Plan:
- What types of music services do we already use? Are we comfortable with our kids having access to those?
- Are there certain genres/stations/artists that are totally off limits?
- How musically-inclined are our kids? Are they gifted musically?
- What do we listen to in the car?
- How do we peacefully take turns so that everyone can listen to what they want to?