I am confident that if a foul mouthed, intruder broke into your home and began to demonstrate before your children a wide variety of sexually perverted acts while spewing an uninterrupted diatribe of ungodly suggestions, you would throw him out!
So, why are we not throwing out our televisions sets?
The evidence against its value is everywhere. An October, 2004 Ellison Research study asked 695 Protestant Clergy what the major negative influences were on children in our society. They answered, “Divorce, materialism and the influence from modern media.”
I know this is an old argument that most parents are very comfortable ignoring. Persuasive statistics don’t seem to matter, vivid illustrations of ill effects are minimalized and the compelling arguments against this media tend to fall on deaf ears. But let me try again…
The statistical argument against television goes like this. It is dangerously pervasive. The average American watches over 4 hours each day or 28 hours a week or 2 months of nonstop TV watching per year. In a 65 year life span, that person will have spent 9 years glued to that mindless tube. While a typical parent might protest at the suggestion that every child should read or be read to for at least thirty minutes a day, that same parent seems to have no compunction against turning their child over to this passive babysitter for hours on end.
Consider what the child is observing. The inane content of the shows is incredibly damaging to a child’s psychological development. Over half the stories are devoted to crime, disaster and war. And more recently, the occult and other supernatural subjects are dominating the airwaves. Werewolves and folks with fangs seem to be dominating the scope of television this season.
We try to live in safe neighborhoods and teach our children to protect themselves from “the bad guys.” But by the time an average child completes elementary school, he or she will have seen 8000 murders-right in their own living room! (http://www.csun.edu/science/health/docs/tv&health.html)
Television distorts reality and subtly changes the moral compass of everyone glued to the tube. It glorifies sin and under cuts our efforts to instill biblical principles into our children’s lives.
It isn’t really entertaining. It certainly does not make someone think. It does not promote conversation or meaningful socialization. It isolates people and encourages sedentary behavior. One study said, “Decades of sedentary TV watching have turned citizens of the United States into the fattest people on planet earth.”
Another study in the “Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine” condemns television advertising as incredibly damaging to our children. “Young children are exposed to a substantial amount of food advertising through TV and around 80% of it is composed of unhealthy sweets, snacks, cereal, beverages and fast food.” We seem to give lip service to healthy eating while we wander down the aisles of the local grocery store, but quickly ignore that theme once we plunk the kids down in front of the “box.”
Perhaps this first week in the New Year would be a good time for everyone to evaluate their use of television and in particular its impact on our children. It might help us all to stick a post-a-note of Psalm 101:3 on the screen. It says, “I will set no wicked thing before my eyes” (KJV)!
By His Grace and for His Glory,
Sherry L. Worel