Plugged In: Teaching Your Children to Be Media Savvy (Transcript)

Dr. James Dobson: Well, hello everyone. I'm James Dobson and you're listening to Family Talk, a listener supported ministry. In fact, thank you so much for being part of that support for James Dobson Family Institute. Roger Marsh: Hello, and thank you for joining us for another addition of Family Talk. I'm Roger Marsh, Christmas day is quickly approaching and the holiday season can be so busy and so full. May I suggest that over the next few weeks, be sure to set aside some time to reflect on this year and to thank God for his faithfulness and his steadfast love. If you might be preparing your year end financial planning, remember that a tax deductible donation to the Dr. James Dobson Family Institute, is the perfect way to ensure that biblical truth continues to be defended on the airwaves and in the public square. In fact, for the entire month of December, we have a marching grant in place, here at the J-D-F-I, so every financial gift that you make to our ministry in December will be doubled. This means double the encouragement for families and double the impact on marriages and kids to make your tax deductible donation right now, visit us online at

That's, or you can call us at (877) 732-6825, that's (877) 732-6825. Today's guest here on Family Talk is a good friend of Dr Dobson's and maybe a familiar voice to you as well. Mr. Bob Waliszewski, now for 27 years, Bob was the Director of Plugged In, the well regarded resource that Bob produced at Focus under doctor's watch. Well, Bob continues to be passionate about giving parents the tools to help them make wise media choices for their children and families. He stopped by the Family Talk studios this past summer to talk with Dr. Dobson about his 2011 book entitled, Plugged-In Parenting: How to Raise Media-Savvy Kids with Love, Not War. Let's listen now to his conversation with Dr. Dobson on today's edition of Family Talk part of our "2021 Best of" collection.

Dr. James Dobson: I'm James Dobson and I want to reintroduce you to a longtime friend and colleague Bob Waliszewski, Bob and I were together at Focus on the Family for many years, where he was the Director of the Plugged In Ministry, Bob and his team reviewed and rated movies and other products of the entertainment industry and among other things. Thousands upon thousands of parents depended on their recommendation through the years. In fact, Bob, I remember many of them saying that they would not take their kids to any movie until you had signed off on it. There are thousands of people out there who feel that way and probably still do.

Bob Waliszewski: Yeah, we were so honored. I mean, we had 13 million visits a year, which if you do the math is over a million visits average a month, it was a huge audience. It still is. And people primarily came for movies, but we did video games, we did television, we did popular music. They're even doing apps these days. And so it's been a wonderful, wonderful ministry for the body of Christ to have that resource. And we just say, "Thank you God, for opening the doors," and to this very day, I'm honored.

Dr. James Dobson: Well, that's where you and I first developed our friendship-

Bob Waliszewski: Yes.

Dr. James Dobson: And our relationship now that you have semi-retired, you and your wife, Lisa have moved to Hawaii.

Bob Waliszewski: Yes.

Dr. James Dobson: Well, you have to explain that one.

Bob Waliszewski: Well, our son was stationed on his second deployment in Afghanistan and our daughter had been 10 years at the time now, 11 going on 12 in Hawaii. And we were thinking at the time had come to semi-retire and it was either Afghanistan or Hawaii. And it was tough decision Doc, Afghanistan did not call my name, but Hawaii did.

Dr. James Dobson: And you've been there for a couple of years now?

Bob Waliszewski: Two years now, two years now.

Dr. James Dobson.: And do you mind telling them that you sold your house recently and you bought a three acre plot right on the ocean looking straight at it.

Bob Waliszewski: Yeah. We planned to build-

Dr. James Dobson: Do you have any feelings of remorse for all the rest of us?

Bob Waliszewski: Yeah. Yes, yes I do. But to make it happen, we're moving in with our daughter to save a few dollars while we build and things are slow over there on the building side of things. We think it might take a while, but yeah, we're looking forward to that day. When we walk into that house there, with that view.

Dr. James Dobson: Let's go back to Plugged In.

Bob Waliszewski: Yes.

Dr. James Dobson: What were you really trying to accomplish on behalf of families?

Bob Waliszewski: I'll go back and I'll say this, and some people that are listening now to Family Talk may disagree with me, but that's okay. I think I'm right on this having 27 years experience. But if I had to grade the body of Christ, generally A, B, C, a D or an F on how well they do in honoring Jesus with their entertainment choices, sadly, there would be a lot of Ds and D minuses. And some people are doing well, they're really training their kids up well, but I think there was a whole lot of C minuses and D pluses in that realm. These were parents that are overly taxed, they're overly busy, they've got so much on their plates and they want thriving children, we all do. And they say, "I want my child to be sexually pure, I want my child not to get involved in drugs and alcohol," but media honoring the Lord... I mean, I'm sure that it's important, but somehow I made it through my junior high years and I made it through my senior high years. I'm sure my kids, they're raised in a Christian home, they will do fine.

Dr. James Dobson: That was a different world.

Bob Waliszewski: It was a different world. And the entertainment was, even though it was bad, it's nothing like it is today. And I just want to say, mom and dads, let's get it off the back burner and let's put it on the front burner. So the mission of Plugged In is primarily to rally the body of Christ and just say, "Jesus really does care about what we watch, what we listen to, the video games, how much time we spend, even on good things." He cares. And it would behoove of us to find out what his opinion is and do it his way and not just trying to muscle our own way, through life, doing it our way.

Dr. James Dobson: Do we really have to explain to parents that the entertainment industry on their exceptions, but that industry has an agenda. They really do want to twist and warp your kids into believing what they believe. And from our point of view, they want to take them to Hell.

Bob Waliszewski: Yeah.

Dr. James Dobson: And do they understand that? And if you turn your back and you don't control that area and try to teach through it and set some boundaries and limits, you're going to lose your kids. And that's never been worse than it is, right this very minute.

Bob Waliszewski: It's true. But I will say on the positive side of that same equation, and I agree with you, a hundred percent Doctor, is I've never seen more positive entertainment out there at the same time. It's like this pendulum has swung split down the middle and swung to the nastiest and the foulest and the most violent of all time. And it swung the other way to, where Christian films can do well at the Box Office. When I speak publicly, I'll say, "What is the most watched film of all time?" Oh, Gone with the Wind or Star Wars series or whatever, but it's actually the Jesus film, Campus Crusade for Christ.

Dr. James Dobson: Is that true?

Bob Waliszewski: Yes. And its crew now, is the ministry name, put out the Jesus film in 1979 and go to the website, it says 228 million people made first time decisions. First time decisions by watching the Jesus film now translated in 1500 languages. Is Jesus anti entertainment? No way, not if a film can bring 228 million people to Him. So, there's some great stuff, but you take War Room, you take Fireproof, you take Courageous, you take what's happening in the Christian film industry in this dark pit. There's a little bit of bright, light shining and I'm so glad. Because when I first started to focus on the family Dr. Dobson, there I mean, you had The Hiding Place and you had Billy Graham film doing a few worldwide pictures, but there wasn't very much.

Dr. James Dobson: Describe what you did at Plugged In, in terms of rating. I don't believe you said, "Don't watch this, don't see this," but if you do, here's what you're going to encounter.

Bob Waliszewski: Right? We resisted that temptation with a few exceptions to not say, go to this or don't go to this. We just tried to let people know what was in it.

Dr. James Dobson: So, you were really trying to teach something-

Bob Waliszewski: Exactly.

Dr. James Dobson: To the parents.

Bob Waliszewski: For instance, like the misuse of Jesus' name in a film, Dr. Dobson, to me, that's like fingernails down a chalkboard. I cannot tell you how I don't... Disgusting, degrade, that just... When I'm watching a film and I kept track of how many films, I saw approximately 140 a year. So every 2.2 days I was seeing something. So I was really exposed to a lot of stuff. And that, besides the sexuality and the violence, just that alone was horrific. But for some people and in the body of Christ, it doesn't seem to bother them. And I just want to say, that is one of the 10 Commandments that we're not supposed to misuse the name above all names.

Dr. James Dobson: When I do find myself seeing, or hearing bathroom language and things that offend me, I can deal with that if I have to. But when they start talking about my Lord…

Bob Waliszewski: Oh, me too.

Dr. James Dobson: When they use Jesus' name, particularly in vain, I'll get up and I shouldn't be there in the first place. And I'm not.

Bob Waliszewski: I feel that absolutely to the nth degree. And yet I've just talked to people where they're like I say, "Oh, I didn't like that film. I wouldn't recommend it. It had two misuses of Jesus' name," and somebody goes, "Really?"

Dr. James Dobson: Yeah. They never notice.

Bob Waliszewski: Never hear it.

Dr. James Dobson: Never notice.

Bob Waliszewski: Didn't even hear it. There was 20 f-bombs in that film. Really? I never heard it. How could you not hear that?

Dr. James Dobson: We've become desensitized to-

Bob Waliszewski: We have. It is the frog in the kettles so often.

Dr. James Dobson: Well talk about what LGBT is doing to our children and teens in the entertainment industry.

Bob Waliszewski: Let me give you one example from my experience when I was at Focus. Disney movie, Beauty and the Beast came out, live action. They had done the animated and then they did a live action version. Bill Condon was the director, whose a self-proclaimed gay man. And I actually love this film Doctor except for a couple scenes. One of them happens at the very end of the film, they're dancing in a ball like situation and a man and a woman are just, rollicking dance number and whatever. And then a man taps the woman on the shoulder to get in on the dance. So, you then have two men dancing. Bill Condon, the director said, "I've got the first gay film Disney ever produced." And he was proud of it and happy. Why? Because he knew that kids were going to be targeted in a subtle way. Some people say they missed it. I didn't miss it. Many people didn't miss it. A lot of kids didn't miss it. They were wondering why would two men dance at a ball together? And again, targeted by the director at least. And why didn't Disney as a company say, "No, we don't want that. Take that, it's going to be too controversial. We don't want that scene in there." They didn't cut it. They were happy to have it in.

Dr. James Dobson: They're taking us somewhere.

Bob Waliszewski: That's right.

Dr. James Dobson: It's progressive.

Bob Waliszewski: That's right.

Dr. James Dobson: It's ever more lewd and offensive to people of faith. I have an article here that somebody put before me today, as we were just arriving in the studio, the title is "Disney Channel Introduces its First Gay Teen Romance on the Series Finale of Andi Mack."

Bob Waliszewski: Yeah.

Dr. James Dobson: Now you tell me they don't have an agenda there.

Bob Waliszewski: Exactly who needs that? You don't need it for adults, much less for kids targeted for kids.

Dr. James Dobson: What's going on in Disney World?

Bob Waliszewski: Well, they've done the gay days for the parks for a number of years, which basically for families, it was the year to say, when is it? Because I want to avoid that as a family. But they have been called the most, well, one of the most LGBTQ friendly companies in America, how do you get that? You get that because, number one, they know that you are not going to fight their agenda. And in fact we'll promote their agenda. And of course, those of us that are conservatives, those of us who care about the Lord and about our kids, we're having to say, "Where is culture going?"

Dr. James Dobson: Yeah.

Bob Waliszewski: And-

Dr. James Dobson: We know where it's going.

Bob Waliszewski: We know it. Yes.

Dr. James Dobson: And we know who's driving it.

Bob Waliszewski: Yeah. The enemy of our soul.

Dr. James Dobson: Well, how do parents get a handle on so many things? I mean, we talked about Disney today. I mean there's YouTube and Facebook and iTunes and Netflix and it goes on and on. How do parents understand and come to terms with what they're go to do with their children?

Bob Waliszewski: Doctor, let me give you a small example of something that I discovered probably around 2016, I found out that there are at least a couple of apps for your cell phone. That if you were a discerning parent and you would check your kids' phones and you looked at their apps, you would say, "Hm, they all look pretty good to me." There is one, it looks like a calculator app, but when you press it, it asks for a password. And under that password, when you open it up, it allows kids to store pictures or video of any nature that they want. Now, why would someone come up with an app, that's totally designed, hidden app designed so that someone could lock out their parents or lock out their wife or lock out their husband from their app and not know what they're doing because they're hiding pornographic videos and images over and over again.

There's one that, it's an app that makes it look like you can control the volume of your music, but again, it requires a password, but how can parents know? It's tougher than it's ever been Doctor, because of the even things like that. But at the same time we have to be in our kids' world. Now this is common sense, but because we're busy parents, oftentimes, when was the last time that we sat down with our kids to ask them, "What are your favorite bands? What are your friends into? If you had any video game that you could buy or have tomorrow, what would it be and why? What are your favorite movies that you've ever seen? Do you consider your top favorite?" And maybe even just listen and sit back. If you hear something that disturbs you as a parent then give it a little breathing space, but come back to it in a few days and say, you know what?

"Your dad's probably made a mistake in that I've allowed too much in this home. And I haven't really been as intentional about sending a healthy boundary in our family. But from now on, I want to let me tell you what that boundary is." We describe it. And actually, I even wrote up years ago, a family covenant for God honoring media choices. If we're trying to set some guidelines in our home, we can talk about them and I think that's very important. In my family, we actually wrote it out on a piece of paper and we all signed it and dated it. So, there's four, my wife and I, my son and daughter. Here's a little bit, I won't read the whole thing, but it says "As family members committed to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and wanting to live out personal holiness, as He commands, we pledge from this day forward to honor God in our media choices, despite poor decisions that we may have made in the past. We desire to secure the blessings that come from obedience and it goes on and on.

And it said, and it's not that we earn God's love. We know that or His trust by that. But one of the principles I try to instill when I speak publicly is that we need to be Christians who hate sin. And when we have a family covenant that guides us, it basically says "We don't want to take in things that God sent His son to die on the cross." They have to be so terrible that he would allow His son to be crucified. We don't want to take in those things to glorify, sex that's outside His will or drugs or rebellion or corruption. I mean, we want to take in stuff that's encouraging and inspiring. And that's essentially what the covenant does in a nutshell.

Dr. James Dobson: Well, your conversation that you were describing with your probably teenager sounds conciliatory, but the truth of the matter is, it's in your face. In many cases, it's the kids saying I will do what I want to do. You can't keep me from doing this. And the parents saying you will not. And there is a confrontation that is pretty brutal. And how firm do you get in moment like that?

Bob Waliszewski: Well, I remember I opened my book with this. I got a call on cell. I was in a meeting as soon as I got out of the meeting, I called this guy, I call him John. John said, "Hey, I walked in last night. There was a certain Disney show on, I don't know much about it, looked like this boy girl thing, wasn't great. My 15 year old daughter was watching it." I said, "Honey, get off that. I don't want you on that. Just turn the TV off and whatever." My wife blew up at me, she said, and my daughter, she was mad at me. And before we went to bed, we all resolved one thing, we would call you and whatever you said about whether she could watch or not would be the answer. Fathers, especially us dads can be this way.

We can be a little harsh like this dad I just described where it's basically "turn it off right now." Does that not breed some rebellion? I think it could. Would there be another better way to handle that? "Hey, I don't know much about that TV show that you're watching hun, but right now, can we turn it off and can I learn some more about it? You tell me why you like it. And I need to learn some, and then we'll have to decide whether it meets the family standard in our home." A much better way than just, "Honey, turn that off. I don't like it," "Dad, why?" "I don't know, but turn it off." It breeds rebellion.

Dr. James Dobson: Bob, before we close to the program, you wrote a book on this subject called Plugged-In Parenting: How to Raise Media-Savvy Kids with Love, Not War. That came out several years ago and they could still get it through Amazon.

Bob Waliszewski: They still can, but I'd recommend getting a copy of your book, Doctor, Bringing Up Girls. You allowed me to write a chapter for that and I will never forget that. I'm totally honored. As far as I know is the only time you ever let somebody write a chapter for you.

Dr. James Dobson: Let me tell you something, I've done about 9,000 radio programs through the years. I've never had a guest say, "I like your book"-

Bob Waliszewski: Better than my book.

Dr. James Dobson: Never has anybody said you're the first.

Bob Waliszewski: Well, my book out print.

Dr. James Dobson: You got a chapter in my book, Bringing Up Girls.

Bob Waliszewski: That's right, and my book is out of print. You can get it on Amazon, yes. And I wrote it to be very principle base. So I tried not to name movies and bands. And there's a little bit of that. But for the most part, I try to instill principles and Scriptures. Like you won't find anything in the Bible that says, "thou shall not watch a slasher film. Thou shall not be a gangster rap fan."

Dr. James Dobson: Well, thou says our will is not set before my eyes, any unclean thing.

Bob Waliszewski: That's right. And above all else, guard your heart, above all else. We need to have that, pasted above our television set.

Dr. James Dobson: This is based on principles. That's what you've included in your book.

Bob Waliszewski: Yes.

Dr. James Dobson: What's the number one principle?

Bob Waliszewski: Number one principle, is that we have to instill in our kids based on Godly principles itself, how to handle media. Again, because God didn't say thou shall not, when it comes to TV, wasn't around, movies weren't around. But when you tell your kids that, "Hey, Colossians 2:8, don't be taken captive by empty and vein philosophies. And basically so much of today's media is empty in vain. It would behoove us to use the Colossians 2:8, as a principle to guide our life.

Here's another one W-W-J-D principle, the bracelets were popular, what 25 years ago?

Dr. James Dobson: What would Jesus do?

Bob Waliszewski: Yeah. What would Jesus do? There was lunch pails, there was bumper stickers and the fad went away. But the principle behind that should never go away. I like to say it differently. If God, the Father decided to have Jesus, be born of a Virgin in today's day. And He was walking the planet and Peter came to Him and said, "Jesus, at the movie theater this week or on Netflix and so and so, can we watch that?" Would it be a get thee behind me Satan moment? Or would it be a War Room moment where it would be absolutely?

Dr. James Dobson: Yeah. Well Bob, we are running out of time. You have a podcast.

Bob Waliszewski: My daughter-

Dr. James Dobson: From Hawaii.

Bob Waliszewski: Yes. We call it The Talking Story Podcast. And Doctor, I need to get you as a guest on our podcast sometime, even though-

Dr. James Dobson: What's it about?

Bob Waliszewski: Well, my daughter, it's her baby, but she wanted to highlight ordinary people, making an extraordinary difference. So for instance, I mentioned the Kendricks, we interviewed them talking about how they got into the Christian film industry. Dallas Jenkins, who's doing the TV about the life of Jesus called The Chosen, we've interviewed him as well. And not just Christian film, just in a lot of unknowns that are making a difference. And for you, it'll be an extraordinary person doing an extraordinary difference when we get you on The Talking Story Podcast.

Dr. James Dobson: Is that an invitation?

Bob Waliszewski: That's an invitation. Yes, sir.

Dr. James Dobson: I appreciate you, Bob. I appreciate your passion for righteousness and trying to spread it among families that are already trying to serve the Lord. That's primarily your constituency, isn't it?

Bob Waliszewski: It is. And I don't know where that passion came from. When I was a youth pastor…

Dr. James Dobson: You did that for seven years?

Bob Waliszewski: Yeah, I did it for seven years. To be honest with you. When I started, I was not a very discerning person when it came to my media choices. Halfway through, it's a long story, but halfway through the Lord got a hold of me and I had a passion back then pre-Focus. And I started talking about it, to my youth group. By the way, I would love to tell our Family Talk listeners, get your youth pastor on board with this topic. Cause it may be that he like me in my early days of youth pastoring really doesn't have a concern for this issue or your pastor. Do you know that if your pastor has done a sermon about honoring Christ with entertainment choices? take your pastor out for a cup of coffee and say, "I love your messages, but would you do a message on this? My kids need to hear it from you as you preach from the pulpit."

Dr. James Dobson: You'll scare them to death.

Bob Waliszewski: Very good. And also model it, mom and dad. Hypocrisy is the quickest way in a family to kill this whole thing I've been talking about today about honoring Jesus with our entertainment choices.

Dr. James Dobson: Bob Waliszewski, it's good to have you here, sir. Let's do it again.

Bob Waliszewski: Yes, Doctor.

Dr. James Dobson: And when you get back to Hawaii, remember your friends here stateside.

Bob Waliszewski: Well, when we get this house completed, it's going to have an extra guest bedroom in Shirley and your name is honest. So come visit us.

Dr. James Dobson: We'll do that, blessing to you friend.

Bob Waliszewski: Thank you.

Dr. James Dobson: Give my regards to Lisa.

Bob Waliszewski: Will do.

Roger Marsh: You just heard Dr. Dobson's 2021 conversation with his good friend and colleague Bob Waliszewski, here on Family Talk. In Psalm 101 verse 13 King David wrote, "I will not look with approval on anything that is vial." And in verse four, he writes, "I will have nothing to do with what is evil." God really cares about what we allow to enter into our minds. We need to understand that media is a powerful thing and that what we dwell on, can shape how we act and what we believe and who, or what we worship. This program was another installment of our Family Talk "Best Of 2021" collection. All month long here in December, we've been airing some of our most popular programs from 2021. If you would like to have your own copy of the entire collection of these great interviews, just visit of 2021.

Once you're there, you can request your copy of our "2021 Best Of" six CD set. It features 18 popular interviews and it's yours for a suggested gift of $50. That web address once again is of 2021. Or give us a call at (877)-732-6825. The CD collection could make a wonderful addition to your own CD library or could be a good gift for a friend or family member. Again, our number to call is (877)-732-6825. I'm Roger Marsh, thanks for listening today and be sure to join us again tomorrow for another addition of Dr. James Dobson's Family Talk.

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