Thursday, March 12, 2009

Taming the Tube

TV consumes a lot of our time. It has been called the “plug-in drug.” I wondered what the Bible might have to say about all the time we spend in front of the tube. I discovered some principles:

-Proverbs 15:14 advises, “A wise man is hungry for truth. The fool feeds on trash.”
-In Psalm 101:3 we read, “I will set no unclean thing before my eyes.”
-And in Philippians 4:8, “Whatever is true, right, pure, lovely, admirable or praiseworthy, think on such things.”

All television is “educational”; it expresses a (sometimes subtle) worldview that may well be quite different from the values we hold. The more we watch, the more we’re influenced. A 4-year old child was told by her mother, “It’s past your bedtime.” Dancing in front of the TV the child called back, “Mom, it’s not bedtime; it’s Miller Time!” Many TV shows push the envelope of decency. What was unthinkable ten years ago is commonplace today. How will things be ten years from now? Not a pleasant consideration.

What should we do to tame the tube? Here are some suggestions...

-Have a family night without TV. Play games, do craft projects, get out the photo album, have a sing-along, tell stories—creative and constructive activities.

-Make a log of what you watch for a week; this will help you decide if TV takes up too much of your life and help you make changes.

-Regulate what you watch. Get a TV guide and circle what you intend to watch, and watch only that. Regulate how much you let TV into your life.

-Watch TV with your kids; don’t use it as a babysitter. Tell your children that they can watch an hour of TV for every hour they spend reading.

-Keep it off during family mealtimes (another good rule is to let your answering machine get the phone during meals).

-Record the programs you want to see and view them when the time is right.

-Watch actively—discuss the shows, ask questions like, “What is this program trying to make me believe?” “What is this show’s viewpoint on sexuality?” “What is the characters’ basis for morality?”

-Turn off the sound during commercials. Lessen their influence and annoyance. Hurray for the mute button!

-Write to stations and sponsors to support good programming and to “vote against” harmful shows.

Consider your home a sanctuary and your TV set a guest. Your home is a refuge, set apart from the onslaught of negative influences of society. If a guest in your home were to tell dirty jokes to your children or use God’s Name in vain, encourage them to drink beer, or describe acts of graphic violence, you’d ask this visitor to stop or leave. Why should TV be any different?

Our need to unwind and be entertained is legitimate, but we have to be careful how we meet that need, by not watching whatever happens to be on. We should make better use of our precious time.

I heard someone complaining recently about having to go to church and I thought, “What a small investment in a person’s week.” I wondered how many hours this person spent watching television every week, compared to the time spent in worship, reading the Bible, and in prayer.

Be in control of your free time, and don’t become a couch potato!

No comments: