Boys, Snakes, and Insatiable Media Appetites

Camping trips were always a highlight of my boyhood and on one of these memorable outings I happened upon a baby bull snake.  Like most boys, I was fascinated with snakes, toads, and lizards.  I never hesitated trying to catch them, sometimes with success and sometimes not.
This little snake was an easy catch, though it was a little feisty once I nabbed it.  The garter snakes I was used to catching were not as interesting as this one so I was determined to have it as a pet.  Not knowing if Mom would approve, I decided not to trouble her over it and hid my new pet in an empty coffee can until I got home.
 Once we were home, I moved my bully little snake into an aquarium that I placed in my closet.  I wasn’t sure what to feed him.  I caught bugs and flies but he didn’t seem interested.  The only thing he seemed to like was hissing and lunging at me anytime I opened the lid to the tank. 
I ventured out on my bike to the public library and checked out a book on snakes.  I wanted to find out what I should be feeding this aggressive little fiend that I hoped I could befriend through faithful care and provision. 
When I got home I found the section on bull snakes but after analyzing the picture of a baby bull snake with the one in my aquarium I realized that it wasn’t a match.  What was it?  I thumbed through the book looking for a positive identification and then I found it… a baby rattlesnake! 
The picture and description matched “…rattler babies have venom, short fangs and are dangerous from birth.  In fact, they are more pugnacious than the adults.   Although unable to make a rattling sound, the youngsters throw themselves into a defensive pose and strike repeatedly when disturbed…” Without consultation I made an executive decision to let it go.
We need to be careful with what we let into our homes whether it’s poisonous snakes or troublesome entertainment habits.  Danger doesn’t always come with rattles.  Sometimes the greatest threats are the ones that are not perceived as such.  How many children are being raised from a young age with a steady stream of electronic media that fosters an insatiable appetite for more?  These appetites are not satisfied during youth.  The average age of a video game player in the U.S. is 35 years old. 
Many parents today don’t see the harm of a generation with many young boys growing up with a stunted purpose and passion for life in the real world because they’ve become so accustomed to the unreal world of video games.  Adventure is relegated to virtual goals and pseudo accomplishments at the push of buttons and the flicker of pixels.  Many of them can’t play a real guitar and they don’t know the real meaning of a hero.  They think they can win battles and save the planet from invasion but can they conquer the dishes in the kitchen or stave off the invasion of a counter-Biblical world view into their own hearts and minds?
Many parents today must not believe that there’s any danger in putting a TV in their toddlers bedroom.  That’s the case for 43% of 3 to 4 year olds in the U.S.  Did you know that one out of five children under the age of 3 has a TV in their bedroom? 
That doesn’t appear to have fangs or rattles to some parents, yet according a study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics “Sustained television viewing was associated with sleep, attention and aggressive behavior problems, and externalizing of problem behaviors. Concurrent television exposure was associated with fewer social skills. Having a television in the bedroom was associated with sleep problems and less emotional reactivity at age 5 ½.”  The AAP recommended that children under two years old should not watch any TV and viewing should be very limited for children over two years old. 
More importantly, how has this media revolution impacted the family?  Has the family become stronger since the first color Television broadcast in 1954? Have we given children a greater advantage over previous generations since the introduction of the first home video game console in 1972? With all the advantages of gaining information on the internet, have we accurately counted the cost when 90% of children between the ages of 8-16 have been exposed to pornography online (most of them while innocently doing homework)?
Electronic media in itself is not necessarily bad.  Appropriate amusement in moderation is not an ominous danger.  Not all snakes are poisonous.  Yet our culture consistently demonstrates its tendency to be too careless about entertainment.  Too careless about the insatiable appetites that are being fostered, too careless about the impact of content, too careless about the time being consumed, too careless about the long term impact of convenient short term diversions, and too careless about the wedge that is often being subtly driven between parents, children, siblings, and other relationships.
Some of entertainment’s greatest dangers are the incessant forces that continue to foster the dismantling of families.  A nasty brood of little venomous snakes that rob time, captivate hearts, diminish responsibilities, shirk accountability, sacrifice more important things, and neglect noble endeavors. They slither in and entice vicarious living, smug narcissism, a false sense of accomplishment, and unabashed escapism. 
The Bible says we are to be “…taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” That doesn’t mean making pets out of poisonous snakes.

More Articles by Phillip Telfer

Phillip Telfer

Phillip Telfer


Phillip Telfer has ministered to youth and families for over 20 years, sharing at camps, retreats, schools, conferences, and churches around the country. He is the director of Media Talk 101 which is a non-profit ministry dedicated to teaching media discernment in the light of following Christ. Phillip recently authored the book “Media Choices: Convictions or Compromise?” He also produced and co-directed the award-winning documentary Captivated and founded the annual Christian Worldview Film Festival and Filmmakers Guild. Phillip is passionate about family-integrated church and ministry and serves as the teaching pastor at Living Water Fellowship in Bulverde, TX. He and his wife Mary have been happily married for 26 years and have been blessed with four children and one grandchild.