Television – The Great SATAN!
I have often thought that 6 million years from now, archaeologists will marvel at the devotion that 21st century earthlings had for their household gods. Excavation will show these deities in virtually every home, obviously objects of devotion, the focal point in a room. The gods were believed without a doubt. Families emulated them, argued about them, and planned their lives around them. The matrix was secondary in influence to the various versions of these boxes with a glass screen that captivated an entire civilization.
Despite the title of this article, I really don’t think we are all guilty of worshiping the god of the underworld. However, I am quite put off by the amount of affection and devotion we give to unworthy television. Last week I was teaching a class of four-year-olds, and before the lesson started, one of the kids informed me that he had to leave early so he could get home in time for American Idol. As a society, I’m afraid we really have made an idol out of television, and not just an American one. Studies disagree on how much we watch per week; Studies agree that we look too much.
My husband refuses to give others the remote control of our home, and I have taken several steps to wean our children away from the seductive and addictive influence of television. We thank the main networks for lending us their initials to transmit our system to them:
CBS – Cut the box on school days. Consider taking the extreme position of not allowing television on weekdays. This has earned us the title of ‘the most unreasonable parents in the school’, but we wear it with pride. To soften our image, we allow the freedom of television on the weekends, after homework and school.
MSNBC – Make summer nice. Bribe children. During the nine weeks that school is not in session, television time can be purchased. For every minute spent reading, we reward TV or computer time. We have an Excel spreadsheet that keeps up with time earned and spent. (If you’re interested, email me and I’ll send you a copy.)
FOX – Filter X#$&%. What children see is often useless, at best. At its worst, television undermines everything we teach by spouting foul language, violence, casual attitudes about sex, and disrespect for authority. Our family uses TV Guardian to help with language. The other negative elements are impossible to remove, which is why the television has an ‘off’ button.
NBC – Basic content rating. Teach your kids to evaluate a show by its main premise. “Aladdin” is one of my favorite movies, but frankly it glorifies being a thief. The gentile “ET” leaves the impression that adults cannot be trusted and that dishonesty is justified when their purposes are noble. After watching a show, ask, “What did that movie just say? Was it a positive or negative message? How did it try to influence you?”
CNN – Cultivate natural curiosity. Try to broaden your world so that your kids are interested in more than just cartoons and sitcoms. Make friends with people from other cultures. Discuss world events. Travel and visit museums to spark interest in topics explored on the Discovery and History channels.
BET – To be exemplary teachers. A student does not rise above the teacher. Set a good example for your children by developing good viewing habits. Participate in National TV Shutdown Week April 21-27 and assess how addicted to TV you are.