America’s Kids: Garbage In. Garbage Out.

Programmers use the phrase, “Garbage in, garbage out.” According to Wikipedia, George Fuechsel came up with it as a teaching mantra. Although it is true of computers, it is true of people too! What are you feeding your kids? I’m not talking about food. I’m talking about television, video games, music, and education.

What are your kids consuming?

Years ago I was sitting in the den with Bob one afternoon when one of our boys entered the room and started talking about a cartoon. He used a phrase that was offensive. I asked where he got that. He said it was in that cartoon. Now, I used to watch the original series when I was growing up. I thought I knew what type of show he was watching. I was totally shocked, horrified, and disappointed that it had changed that much!

I asked, “What do you think that means?”

He told me.

I looked at Bob and said, “That’s not what I thought that meant.”

He agreed.

Needless to say, we told him not to use that phrase again. That it meant something else when we were in school. We also told him not to watch that cartoon again.

Was I picky? Absolutely, I was picky. I didn’t let the boys watch many of the children’s programs that their peers were watching for the same reason that I screened their video games, and filtered their Internet.

A steady diet of junk normalizes junk.

Take home life for example. If you normalize divorce, then you send the message that it’s normal to get a divorce. If you normalize fighting in the home, then you send a message that it is what they can expect in their homes.

Although children often have to deal with divorce and other situations as it touches their lives, or the lives of their friends, we need to set higher standards. It’s one thing to talk to them about it; it’s another to make it acceptable or desirable through a constant barrage of powerful words and images as they sit and soak it up.

The wrong video games, television programs, movies, music, and even textbooks can serve to do just that – make the wrong thing seem normal, acceptable, and even desirable.

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
Psalms 1:1-2

Are we not casting our children into the counsel of the ungodly when we let them be exposed to ungodly things? Television, video games, movies, and even music can be an ungodly influence on our kids. We, as Christians, can change their values through all these mediums, and so can the ungodly.


Today’s challenge is to consider the things that are being normalized for your children in your home, at school, and at play. Consider for yourself what is being normalized for you. It’s not a matter of understanding what is fiction. It is a matter of the perception of normal and acceptable. It’s a matter of values.

What influences are upon you and your family that you need to look at closer? Remember to also ask your older children what is being shown and discussed in their classrooms in high school and college. You may be shocked.