You Are What You Watch
Exercising self-control over the things that we watch and play
by Becky May
Suitable for Key Stage 3
To encourage us to think carefully about the things that we watch and engage with, and to highlight the need to exercise self-control.
Preparation and materials
- You will need a pair of glasses or sunglasses (a large novelty pair would be ideal) and a few DVD or game cases that have different age ratings on them.
- Optional: you may wish to display an image of the latest must-see film or must-play game, in which case you will also need the means to do so.
- Wearing the large glasses, welcome the students to the assembly.
Say something along the lines of, ‘Good morning, it’s great to see you all! Wow, you’re all looking great this morning!’
- Hold up the DVD or game cases, or point to the image of a film or game that has come out recently.
Ask the students whether any of them have seen these films or played these games.
- Ask the students to raise their hands if they have heard the phrase ‘you are what you eat’.
Explain that ‘you are what you eat’ reminds us to think carefully about the things that we put into our body, and the effect that they may have. If we only ever eat food that is unhealthy, we will be unhealthy. If we eat a healthy diet, our bodies will work well and we will be healthy.
- Suggest that we could think of our eyes in the same way. All the things that we watch, look at or pay attention affect us, too, so perhaps we should say, ‘You are what you watch!’
- Hold up the DVD or game cases again.
Draw attention to their age ratings.
- Point out that sometimes, we may want to watch or play something because it looks cool; perhaps it has a label on it that means it’s meant for people who are older than us. We want to do things that make us feel older than we are. Perhaps we have older friends or family who have seen the films or played the games and we want to do the same. However, these age ratings are on these cases for a reason.
- Point out that these labels are there to protect us. They provide advice about what is suitable or appropriate for us to see. There may be scenes or images that we may find frightening, things that are too violent for us that plant horrible thoughts in our head, which we can’t get rid of. Of course, we may like the idea of watching something scary; it makes us feel brave to deal with something that is designed for people who are older than us. However, the truth is that unpleasant things that we see often stay in our memories and we can struggle to push them to the back of our minds.
- Point out that it’s hard to take advice from adults, especially when they are stopping us from doing something that we want to do. Actually, it’s a sign of wisdom and maturity to make good choices for ourselves. Perhaps, instead of thinking about what we’re allowed or not allowed to do, we should remember the tip ‘we are what we watch’ and make good choices for ourselves about the things that we watch.
Time for reflection
In the Bible, Psalm 101.3 says, ‘I will not look at anything wicked.’ David wrote the words as a prayer, a promise to God that he would live a good life and make wise choices about the things he would let into his eyes. This is thousands of years before films and games were invented, yet even then, this writer knew that the things to which he paid attention would influence his life.
Nowadays, we have access to watch anything we want at any time of the day. We may not be ‘allowed’ to play certain games, but we have access to any number of films or video clips on our phones or tablets. It’s not enough to expect adults to police these things for us; we have to make wise choices about the things we let in through our eyes.
Let us close our eyes for a moment and think about some of the things that we choose to watch. Let us think for a moment about the impact that these things can have on our thoughts and our actions. Let us also think about what it means for us to make good choices: ‘We are what we watch.’
Like David many years ago, help us to think carefully about the things that we choose to watch.
Help us to choose to turn off images that may put sad or scary ideas in our minds.
Help us to focus on good, not evil.
Help us to focus on things that are helpful and healthy for our minds.
‘You say’ by Lauren Daigle, available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIaT8Jl2zpI (4.30 minutes long)