What guidelines does a Catholic use to evaluate what music, movies, TV shows, websites or other entertainment one can view or listen to? And what is a Catholic’s responsibility in teaching their family (spouse, kids) to follow the same guidelines?

A good place to begin is with your own diocesan newspaper. Most dioceses publish a weekly or monthly newspaper and these often contain excellent movie reviews or an evaluation of current films with respect to their suitability for family viewing. A few years ago Paulist Productions developed an annual “Humanitas Prize” to acknowledge television programs which promote human and Christian values and articulate a positive moral code. The Humanitas prize continues in existence and has been a force for influencing tv programming in a positive way.

Another response is to set a good example in your own use of the media. Your own good example will have the strongest effect of all in influencing your family’s habits. It’s good to explore alternative forms of family entertainment, spending time together in ways that help your relationships with each other to grow, rather than only sitting around the tv set or computer screen after the day’s work is done.

Even further, support television, film and other media which promote good values. It’s good to write letters to tv stations or networks supporting them when they produce programs of good quality and moral value. Also let them know when you find a particular show offensive or of bad quality. Media producers listen to their potential customers.

Finally, keep the lines of communication open within your family. You may not be able to control or even always be aware of the way in which your family members are using the media available to them. But you can talk with them and ask questions about how they feel about what they’ve been watching. It’s best not to nag or be judgmental. Just ask them to share their experience and viewpoint and then simply share your own point of view in return.