The 8 F's

Focused on Faith, Family, Friends, Finances, Freedom, Following, Fitness and Fun

Sunday, June 24, 2012

TV: friend or foe?

According to A.C. Nielson Co. the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV per day.
70% of Day Care centers use TV during a typical day.
Hours per year the average American youth spends in school: 900 hours.
Hours per year the average American youth watches television: 1500.
Percentage of 4-6 year-olds who, when asked to choose between watching TV and spending time with their fathers, preferred television: 54.
Number of minutes per week that parents spend in meaningful conversation with their children: 3.5. Percentage of parents who would like to limit their children's TV watching: 73.
Percentage of Americans who can name The Three Stooges: 59.
Percentage who can name at least three justices of the U.S. Supreme Court: 17

There is a reason I had cable turned off 3 years ago.  I am reminded why on those rare occasions I see a show on TV marketed to children and teens (we do subscribe to Netflix).  I confess, when my kids were little, and I had poor parenting skills, I used the TV as a babysitter.  Little did I know, the shows my kids watched, were undermining my influence over them.  The TV was teaching them that it's OK to lie.  It's OK to skip school.  It's OK to be disrespectful to others.  It's no secret that the parents on these shows are either bumbling fools or not written into the script at all.   No where are morals or guidelines taught by a parent or even a teacher.  School is a joke in much of the programming.

Children's minds develop at an accelerated rate when they are young.  Their sense of right and wrong are also developing during these very impressionable years.  As parents, we know it's our job to instill what is right or wrong behavior in our children, not the TV's.  I am not criticizing those of you who enjoy watching TV.  As a matter of fact, I enjoy TV.  But, I know that whatever I allow into my head affects my thinking.   I believe there is a place for TV and enjoy watching quality family shows and movies with my kids.  I also use it to help with homeschooling.  There are some great shows and documentaries to assist in learning history, science, religion, literary classics and even math!

According to Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) test results, which are published widely on the internet, the U.S. is getting left in the dust in math, science and reading.  The PISA tests how advanced students are in these three subjects compared to students around the world.  The U.S. is trailing China, Finland and South Korea among other nations.  As of December, 2010, the U.S.A. ranked 23rd or 24th in most subjects.

A report released by the company that produces the PISA, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, suggests that the biggest difference between countries is in the "culture of education".  The Chinese have a super competitive learning environment with little emphasis on TV and extra curricular activities and sports.   They place their teachers in the highest regard.  And schools generally go later into the day, into the weekends and over the summer time.

The culture of education in America is not as competitive as it once was.  Our children are taught "what" to think and not "how" to think.  This ideology is reinforced by TV shows that undermine education and family values. You may think this is a big leap.  But what do most kids do when they get home from school? Depending on which study you read, kids spend half an hour to an hour or more watching TV vs. studying.  I realize there are other problems with our education system.  But our media does not help instill a culture of learning.  And whether we like it or not, our children are being influenced by what they watch on TV.

As I write this, it's summer time, and my kids, ages 10 and 11, get bored, like most kids their age.  I limit TV to 1-2 hours of quality programming (not documentaries) and gaming to 1-2 hours each day, and that's after they have read for 30 minutes.  This may seem extreme for some of you.  They complained about it at first, but now they know that they have to CREATE their own fun times and not rely on the TV to do it for them.  They are learning HOW to think and not what to think.  Some days they watch more than that.  But we try to stick to these limits.

Please don't get the wrong idea.  I am not bashing parents or teachers.  We don't get a rule book for parenting when we have children.  It's not easy.  And I admire and respect America's teachers.  My parents are teachers.  Teachers have their hands bureaucratically tied.  They have to accomplish much with little.  I love teachers!  It's television programming and hours spent watching bubblegum episodes that bother me.  It's how these programs are programming our nation into mindless vicarious zombies that bother me.

I want our children, the future leaders of America, to know how to think for themselves and not have it spoon fed to them through the TV.  They should be learning right and wrong from us, their parents and guardians who love them and care for them.  I want our children to know, by how much time we spend with them, that they are important and worthy of our love and attention!  We can at least be aware of what our children are watching and how it affects them. We owe it to our children and grandchildren to be a better teacher than those they see on TV.

Blessings and encouragement to you and your family. : )

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