Technology can be a wonderful thing. We use it to keep up with people near and far, we use it to hail taxi services with the touch of a finger, and we use it for so much more. Technology has also been used to educate people, create jobs, and even save lives. And we as Christians can use it in order to encourage and serve others in ways that we had previously been unable to do.

However, nothing – save the Lord we serve – is perfect. There are the obvious flaws to technology, such as the ability to access pornography and the platform that persecutors have to put Christians on blast. But what about the little, subtle things – a profane word here; an obscenity there; discouraging words scattered across a status update – that can be potentially harmful to us? What do we do when such harmful media “goes stealth”?

Let’s talk about that.

Keep a watchful eye

These days, most of the media we seem to consume the most is visual; think video games, movies, televisions, and magazines. As such, we should be vigilant if something is amiss or unhealthy, whether it’s an immodest video game character or a scene in a movie involving something that goes against what we believe in. Paul asks his audience to “be watchful, stand firm in the faith” (1 Corinthians 16:13a). We should do the same.

But keeping a watchful eye shouldn’t limit us to only what’s visual. Song lyrics and even the dialogue of characters in a video game should be something we should be vigilant of, too. Though they may seem tiny and inconsequential on the surface, these little things can quickly pile up to be greater problems later on if we’re not aware of them to start with.

Because we live in a fallen world, the content of stuff that’s around us will not always be healthy. And sometimes, we may feel discouraged by that, but thankfully, the Lord has the everything under His control (John 16:33). Consequently, we need to be aware and keep a watchful eye as we journey through today’s technology and media.

Do your research

Once you know what’s out there, it’s a good idea to plan ahead and do your research on what media you consume before you actually consume it. Just like you would read the ingredient labels on the food you buy at the grocery store, you should do the same with the TV shows you watch, the music you listen to, and more. Being proactive in this manner will help us in the long run, especially our conscience (Romans 13:5).

It’s possible to find tallies of various things such as certain bad words, scenes, and other situations to consider in media; all it takes is a quick web search to find those reviews. Also, if there are popular games, movies, or apps that show up in the news, keep an eye out for those, too. The popular opinions of others – and the way those popular opinions are presented – may tell you if certain media is safe for you and your family to use. Along the same lines, if you prefer to stick with the word of mouth from people you trust, feel free to ask questions of fellow church members, along with close friends and families with whom you share common interests and faith.

But it’s also important to go beyond movies and reach into the smaller forms of technology, such as the emoticons or “smiley faces” that we text each other on a day-to-day basis. You never know when there’ll be an offensive gesture hidden between the thumbs-up signs and the pixelated tacos. So, definitely keep a watchful eye and research new updates, especially if it’s technology your children are using.

Take action by using discernment based on His Word

So, you found unhealthy media going stealth. What can you do about it? What should you do about it?

To start, ask God to grant you the wisdom and ability to discern what is good and truthful while sifting through the media in today’s world (Hosea 14:9; Romans 12:2; Ephesians 5:10-11). Then, identify why the particular aspect of the media you’re watching or using is troubling or against His Word. Search the scriptures and see what they have to say regarding certain situations or actions. Then, ask yourself if that’s really the media you should be watching or using, and if it has the ability to help you not only grow as a Christian, but also to encourage others to do the same. If not, it’s a good idea to really consider what media you are watching and if you should make some changes.

The Lord makes us perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9), but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to be the best Christians we should be. So, when unhealthy media goes stealth, we should tread carefully, making sure we don’t step on any thorns as we traverse the road we walk Heavenward.

By Savannah Cottrell