Saturday, July 26, 2008

Television vs. Heaven…

July 17, 2008

A news article caught my eye today – Barack Obama was appealing to parents to spend more time doing homework with their children, and allow them to watch television less.

I never thought I would say this to something promoted by Mr. Obama, but “Amen” to that.

As we drove home this evening from a family night out, my children were marveling at how many televisions we could see flickering in living rooms in the neighborhood. They told me how many of the houses they go into to visit seem to have the television running at all hours of the day. I decided to do a little research into television habits in our country, thinking that people might be spending two or even three hours of each day in front of the tube.

The facts are nothing less than staggering. According to Nielsen Media Research, during the 2005-2006 television year, the average household had the television turned on for 8 hours and 14 minutes – EACH DAY. Taking into account that not everyone in the household is watching for that entire time, they estimate that the average individual viewer watched for 4 hours and 35 minutes – EACH DAY (reference – September 21, 2006). It is stunning to think of the absolute waste that is plaguing our society if these numbers are true. And the studies show that this number is increasing year over year, with teenage girls leading the way with the biggest increase.

Imagine if that time was converted to something meaningful. How would the children of our nation be changed if parents spent four-and-a-half hours of each day mentoring, playing, educating, and talking with them? If word got out to the community that a local family spent four hours each day in Bible study with their children, they would likely be ridiculed. But we think nothing of sitting our kids down in front of mindless drivel for more time than it takes to drive from Chicago to Detroit.

Giving up your television is always an option – a good one, and perhaps the best thing we could do for our families. But if that is not an option, let me suggest three things to every household that has a television:

1. Pull the plug on cable or satellite TV. Don’t pay a monthly fee for something that can destroy your children’s lives. Then, take a positive step and re-invest that money into something that will transform your family in a positive way, like sponsoring a missionary or investing in a new family devotional book or video. We have never had cable in the house, mostly because I’m too frugal to pay for it, and I am only now starting to realize what a blessing this has been. I have not been exposed to cable much in the last few years, but on occasion I see people flip through the available channels and I am amazed at the subject matter for which cable companies actually charge money.

2. Minimize the time that the television is on each day, and even more importantly, take absolute care about what your children are watching. Take nothing for granted. If you are not diligent about every eyeful that your children are watching, be assured that Satan will be. Even better, find something that you can all watch together, leaving nothing to chance. Be aware of every visual, including the racy and provocative commercials that are inserted in even the most benign programming. Heed the words of Proverbs 19:18 – “Discipline your son, for in that there is hope; do not be a willing party to his death.”

3. Guard your own eyes, taking care what you watch even when no one else is around. Satan is constantly trying to shift our acceptance of what is right and wrong, and he will be actively working that angle. Your idea of what is acceptable will bleed into what you let your kids watch. Also, the kids will see your example, and this will dictate what they believe they can “grow into” for entertainment when they get older.

Bottom line, many parents are allowing their children to be raised by the television, and are immersing them in a culture authored by Satan. This has a direct impact on a child’s relationship with their family and with their Creator. We are called to greater things. If you are reading this and feel offended because it hits home, please understand – this is not meant to be judgmental. Take the opportunity to ponder what can be changed in your family’s television habit. Make a good choice, and you will be rewarded with more family time, better relationships, and ultimately, heaven’s idea of entertainment – which puts to shame anything that Hollywood might conceive.

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1 comment:

Tamara said...

While I agree with what you are saying, I question whether the television is the root of the problem, or is it just yet another symptom of deeper issues. It would be interesting to know the demographics and psychographics of those in the study by Nielsen that you referenced. Why are they watching 4+ hours of television a day? I'm curious if t.v. is the problem or if there is more to it.
Simply turning off the t.v. is not the solution to the plethora of issues that plague our society, and we need to treat the illness not just the symptoms.
LOVE the blog, by the way. Keep it up--you're making me think, and spend less time watching t.v. (Uh oh, you haven't read any reasearch on too much blogging, have you?)