Take away the TV

Mother Tells Children Off For Watching TV Whilst Doing Homework

There are many ways to give by taking away. For example, if you spend too much time watching television, you can waste your life away. Yes, there are good television programs, programs that make you think, inspire you, and improve your life. But what percentage of TV programs fit that description? Groucho Marx once said, “TV is good for the mind; every time someone turns one on, I go into the next room and pick up a book.”

Despite Groucho’s gripe, television viewership continues to increase at an astounding rate. In 1998, for example, 70 percent of households in the US received paid television services, which means dozens if not hundreds of channels. Business 2.0 reports that by the end of 2003, the household percentage was up to 86 percent. The number of satellite subscribers doubled from 11.7 percent to 22 percent and is increasing rapidly.

In Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam describes how “heavy TV watchers reduce their civic involvement,” if for no other reason than watching TV takes a lot of a person’s spare time. This reduction in civic involvement impedes the building of stronger communities and healthier families, and it hurts giving in general.

We believe it’s a gift to yourself and your children when you turn off your television. A friend did just that eight years ago when he saw that his three children wanted to spend all their time in front of the TV. He felt it was bad for their health and bad for family life and that many of the values portrayed on the TV contradicted their family beliefs. He put the TV in the basement and cancelled the cable service. After a little adjustment, they were all happier. The kids got more exercise, the family played games together, and the kids became voracious readers. Recently, our friend’s son, now 15 years old, thanked his dad for this great gift. The son wasn’t happy at the beginning, but he is very grateful now.

Try it. Your kids may be bored at first, but out of boredom comes creativity, interaction, and knowledge. They’ll also have the time to volunteer for causes that will benefit them and others. If you think this is too drastic a step, you could restrict viewing to a set amount per day. Or, as another friend does, have one week on, one week off. And make sure that you are a good role model. If parents lounge for hours in front of the TV, restricting their children’s access will understandably lead to resentment.

(Excerpt from the book, The Power of Giving by Azim Jamal & Harvey McKinnon)



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