We get this question so often! Especially about things like Harry Potter, Twilight, and the like. Before we go on though, we have to put this out there: If your parents have said that you cannot read/watch a particular movie/book or any particular series or video game, you DO have to respect that rule no matter what anyone else says—even us! Ephesians 6:1 says to "obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right." That's pretty self-explanatory.
When it comes to whether or not it's okay for us to entertain ourselves, the Bible DOES give us the freedom to enjoy and recreate. God never said, "Thou shalt not have fun, nor shalt thou smile in all thy days." ☺ Having a good time is not a sin, but we do need to remember what God has said about godly living—even during fun activities, whether it's reading, watching movies, playing video games, or whatever. In fact, we should give thanks to God that we even have the ability to do such things (Colossians 3:17; James 1:17)!
Here are some principles that will help you make good choices about specific media that won't bring you (or anybody else) down:
Philippians 4:8 says that we should think about "whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable." When you're watching a movie, ask yourself: "Does the story promote good morals, or does it tempt me to try something that I shouldn't be doing?" When you're playing a video game, ask yourself: "Does this challenge my mind and help me grow, or does it make me feel angry and like I want to throw something at someone?"
God is pretty clear that He does not want us to be under the influence of unbelievers (2 Corinthians 6:14-15). That doesn't mean you can't watch a movie or read a book that wasn't made by a person professing Christ, but it does mean that we should not allow our thoughts, words, and actions to be changed negatively by people who do not put God first in their lives.
For example, playing violent video games a lot may eventually desensitize you to violence in real life. Even if you would never actually murder someone, your convictions about being kind and loving toward others could get broken down if you allowed yourself to be repeatedly exposed to images of people being violent. Live for God in all things and ask God for the strength to say "no" when someone or something would take you away from that.
When we're making media choices, we should keep our friends and family in mind. First Corinthians 8:9 talks about making sure that our lifestyles do not cause other believers to sin. Maybe you're okay with watching vampire flicks, but if watching it in front of your 8-year old sister causes her to freak out and start questioning if God will keep her safe, then you probably want to avoid doing that. Our freedom to relax and enjoy our lives should never cause others to struggle with their own faith.
Maybe that seems kind of obvious, but God will totally give you guidance when you ask, "Is Grand Theft Auto the best video game for me?" or "Should I be watching American Pie?" This is the very reason God gave us the Holy Spirit (John 14:26)! Maybe you could watch Zombieland and be nothing more than merely entertained, or it might make you accidentally work some serious profanity into your vocabulary. The Holy Spirit can tell you which would happen to you.
As a general rule of thumb, if you're wondering whether or not you should watching or reading something, take this advice: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6-7).
God honestly cares about what happens to us, so we should give all of our worries and concerns to Him (1 Peter 5:7). After all, He knows us best and knows what kind movies, books, video games, or whatever we can handle right now and what we cannot.
We do have the freedom to make these choices for ourselves, but we do need to be aware of what sorts of media be allow into our brains. Everything we see, do, or hear will affect us in some way, so it is our responsbility as Christians to make wise choices about media consumption (Philippians 4:8). While one thing may be OK for one person, it may not be OK for you, and vice versa. God gave us the Holy Spirit (John 14:26) to guide us and give us wisdom in these decisions. Philippians 4:6-7 gives some great advice for when you're asking yourself, "Is __________ good for me to read/watch/play?"
Cat is the webmaster and editor of 412teens.org and regularly teaches local young writers at her workshops. She also contributes at GotQuestions.org, Blogos.org, and GQkidz.org. When Catiana is not writing or hanging out with teens, she loves spending time with her two kids, three socially awkward cats, and one curly-tailed dog.