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TV Servant or Master?
Photo: Andre Lubbe
Radiation: Hazardous Waste Material! This phrase aptly describes most television fare. And what are the problems with television? Children see TV as the real world. It portrays the good life with fast cars, food, clothes, and sex. As one parent said, “It takes thirty minutes for two people to meet, fall in love, marry, and divorce.” It provides a distorted view of love, marriage, and sex. Children absorb a false sense of values. The heroes are stereotypes—they never seem to learn. Moreover, TV does not encourage intelligent processing of information—only fragments. I agree with Neil Postman that, “TV has culture by the throat.”

Children between two and twelve watch an average of 25 hours of television per week. By the time a child graduates from high school, he will have watched about 22,000 hours and 18,000 murders. Children are especially vulnerable to television programs because they tend to believe everything they see on the screen. They model their lives after television stars. Television is especially deleterious to young children because they do not usually distinguish between fantasy and reality until they are about six years of age.

But what bothers many parents and teachers about television is the way it distracts children from worthwhile reading. As one mother said, “You can control at least in part what a child sees on TV. But what we cannot do is to get him to read when television takes so much time and satisfies so much of the normal desire for adventure and thrills.”

Reading with Children

“Reading with your child is so much more rewarding. Reading assists the child with reading readiness and establishes a closeness that is a lifetime memory. So what if you miss some programs that have no lasting benefits. The time spent reading with your child is never lost time.

Watching television is also a spectator activity. We all know that children should be physically challenged. They need a lot of physical activity to release pent-up energies and feelings. Playing a game, riding a bike and taking a walk are so much better for the child.

“Activities that promote family interaction are wonderful ways to get to know your children better and assist you in identifying problems or concerns that they might have. Tune into your children rather than the television.” (Anne Leenknecht,  Daily Courier, May 11, 1991.)

Television should be a servant, not our master. There are many good educational programs on television—Nature, National Geographic, etc. We can make television our servant by controlling it. Take charge of your television in a kind but firm way. Then decide, as a family, on the values that can make it truly “re-creation.” Bring the children into the discussion. Read and discuss Philippians 4:8—“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praise worthy—think about such things.”

Satan is using television and video games to enslave Christians to the culture of this world. Will they be servant or master? The choice is up to you and your children.

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By Charles H. Betz. Portions reprinted with persmission from Successful Parenting Postscripts, Vol. 2, No. 3, www.lovetakestime.com. Copyright © 2006 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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