Have you ever attempted to get people’s attention while they are immersed in a television program or a video game? It can be quite difficult, even when the programming is not that interesting. Such was the case when our children were very young. After calling out my son’s name for the third time as he sat mesmerized in front of a flashy cartoon, it became clear that I, as his parent, could not compete with the message of the mighty television. In a side-by-side competition, parents just do not have what it takes to hold a child’s attention over that seemingly magical box and its wonderful world of distractions. So, my wife and I disconnected it, and we no longer need to compete for our children’s attention.
Judging by how some responded when we told them what we had done, we sometimes wondered if our decision had been extreme. Then I met a man whose actions made mine look mild by comparison. Having failed to gain the attention of his television-viewing children, he actually yanked the television set from the wall and threw it into his front yard. Then, to emphasize the point, he took an axe from his woodshed and firmly planted it into the television set. He allowed this new decoration to remain part of the box, and even placed on it a sign that read, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” Extreme? Maybe, but the point strikes home.
Amazingly, as this gentleman and I conversed, many years after each of these events had occurred, our reactions were quite similar. Rather than feeling repentant, we both felt that removing television’s influence from our homes was one of the best things we had ever done. We both saw changes for the better in our children. They began to excel academically beyond their peers who continued to watch television. They became more independent-minded. Their judgment became more sound and clear. The “popular” things began to matter less, and the right things mattered more.
While not a scientific study, the effects of removing the influence of this world’s ideas from our home were quite clear, and they were all positive. And there have been numerous studies documenting the effects of television viewing in all its various forms. Few ever show positive effects. Rather, they overwhelmingly support the conclusion that a person’s mental and physical health is adversely affected by spending too much time in front of a television screen. Yet, people continue to subject themselves to this slow poison, seemingly unable to break free of its grasp.
A recent study may reveal at least part of the reason. Reported in the journal Translational Psychiatry, researchers found that people who played video games—an active form of television viewing—just over an hour or more each day display the same brain patterns as those battling addictions to gambling and other vices. In essence, it is possible that these activities may not only be addictive, but may contribute to addictive personality. How about you? Can you break free of television or video games? Can you go without them for 30 days or more?
Are television screens robbing us of our time? Of our values? Though television can have a good use, popular programming is often full of darkness and rarely reflects God’s way of life.
The Apostle John warned Christians against welcoming into their homes those bringing a doctrine different than Christ’s (2 John 1:9-11). But are we doing exactly that when we invite such evil into our homes; sharing mentally in what the television places before us? We must be careful not to fellowship with darkness (1 John 1:5-6). So, how are we using television? Are we walking in the light and redeeming the time (Ephesians 5:8-16), or are we fellowshipping with darkness?
If you would like to break free of this world’s darkness and begin redeeming the time God has granted, please sign up for our free Tomorrow’s World Bible Study Course and begin walking in the light.