Q. Television is ruining my family. I want to talk and connect with my kids and with my husband but the TV is always on. I’ve heard that TV with all the violence isn’t good for the kids and this worries me, also. I’ve told my husband how I feel but he says he’s tired after work and TV helps him relax. He doesn’t think it hurts the kids. What do you think?
A. You are correct in your belief that too much TV viewing is harmful. There’s a great deal of research which links TV watching to a variety of health problems. Obesity is one of these. Experts believe that the biggest cause of weight gain in the
is the time spent vegetating in front of
the TV. United States
There is also evidence that the passive nature of television viewing affects the brain development of children. One study showed that both children and adults exposed to TV suffered a 20% decrease in creativity. TV may be the cause of the 20% decline in
SAT scores in the last 25 years.
Television interferes with thinking, with using our minds actively. Reading a book, playing a game or talking with a friend requires more. We must use our minds, our imaginations, and invest ourselves. These skills are lost when not exercised. An activity that engages our interest and imagination enriches the brain, even in adults.
There has been concern about the amount of violence and sexually suggestive or even immoral content in much TV programming. The effect of this violent or sexually promiscuous content cannot be positive for children, families or for our society.
In addition there is research which shows that the more TV viewing a person engages in the less they are involved in relationships with others, in civic, church or social activities. Martin Seligman, psychologist, says that people who are passive, watching television are less likely to report they are happy than people who are actively doing things.
Depression has increased in our society in recent decades. A study of the Amish, who do not own or watch television, showed that they have a significantly lower rate of depression than the general population. Many studies show that engagement with others is a key ingredient to health. You and your family will be happier and healthier if you turn off the TV and get involved with other people.
Watching television kills conversation in families and between couples. It prevents intimacy. Marriages drift into trouble when there is little time for connecting. Children also need time to talk in order to feel loved and to learn to connect with others.
Talk over with your husband the information about the effects of TV on all of us. Work out a plan with him to gradually decrease the amount of TV viewing the family does. Here are some suggestions:
· Turn off the TV during meals. Sit as a couple talking over coffee for a while longer after the children have finished eating.
· If banning TV from all meals is too drastic, start with one or two TV-less meals a week.
· Don’t use television as background noise. Turn it off if you’re not watching.
· Only turn on a program that interests you.
· Get involved in other activities. Get out board games to play with your children or with each other. Go to concerts, plays or church activities together.
During Lent, traditionally a time of fasting and prayer, we might all consider restricting our TV viewing. Some may want to go on a TV diet. Some may choose a total fast from TV. Forty days is long enough to establish new habits.
“Change your ways. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace.” 2 Corinthians NLT