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The Tube Turn-Off
Photo: Orkun Alabaz
While I was putting gas into the family vehicle a short time ago, I was amazed to see a video screen in the gas pump. The small 12 inch moving picture played short commercials, upcoming events, and video trivia to a captive audience…me! I had to watch. I didn’t have a choice; I was holding the gas nozzle.

I have learned that the gas pump video screen is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to keeping society's brains busy. Check out just a sample of the electronic baubles that are currently available, or soon will be:

• A chain of British supermarkets is introducing the “tantrum tamer” shopping cart equipped with DVD players and electronic games for children who get bored at the grocery store.1

• Captive Network TV plans to install 10,000 flat screen video monitors in the elevators of 20 cities within the next 20 months.2

• Flat panel video screens are being implanted in the doors of refrigerators and sold at major appliance showrooms everywhere.

• DVD players are being installed in the backseats of some automobiles for restless riders.

As a father of young children, I’m not all that excited about the audio and video forces that seem to be driving the collective mindset of today’s families. I’m of the opinion that as a society we have begun to allow the media to do our thinking for us. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no prude, but when we install video screens in our gas pumps to keep our minds busy I begin to wonder whether we’re losing our ability to be quiet, think, and contemplate the deeper issues in life.

What about life’s important questions. Questions like, “Why am I here and where am I going?” or “What’s life really all about?” With the busyness of our brains, are we able to contemplate on the real priorities of life?

My family has chosen to take action. We own a television, but we monitor the programming that our family views very carefully and rarely turn it on. Here are a number of activities that we have chosen to replace our time spent in front of the tube:

• Learn a musical instrument. We enjoy sharing music together, and the children are playing, too (even if one of them does play an oatmeal box).

• Make popcorn and play board games. Nothing seems to calm my nerves better than a quiet night of checkers or Scrabble.

• Read a book. Our kids really enjoy an ongoing story that lets their imaginations run wild.

• Go on a family walk. Real, meaningful conversations often transpire.

• Take up a new hobby. My daughters crochet, and my son is excited about model rockets. Hobbies focus attention on something enjoyable.

These and other activity ideas can be incorporated into most home situations if we will work at it. For many families, it’s time to turn off the tube, and turn on togetherness.

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By Michael Temple. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

1 Researched at: http://abcnews.go.com
2 Quoted from: http://abcnews.go.com

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