TV in the Home

One of my favorite blogs, Between Two Worlds,  has linked to Randy Alcorn’s advice regarding how to take charge of  television viewing in the home.

  1. Keep track of how much time you spend watching.
  2. Decide in advance how much TV to watch per week.
  3. Use a schedule to choose programs for the week–then stick to your choices.
  4. Keep your television unplugged, store it in a closet, and/or put it in a remote part of the house (prevents mindless flip-on).
  5. Periodically “fast” from television for a week or a month. Notice the “cold turkey” effects. (Avoids addiction, reminds you of all that can be done when TV off).
  6. Choose programs that uplift rather than undermine biblical values.
  7. Use the “off” switch freely. If it’s wrong and you keep watching, you’re saying “I approve.” (Unless it doesn’t present temptation and you’re critically analyzing it).
  8. Use the channel changer frequently.
  9. Watch and discuss programs together as a family–to avoid passivity and develop active moral discernment through interaction. (Avoid the second TV set that splits the family and leaves children unsupervised).
  10. Don’t allow young children to choose their own programs–that’s the parent’s responsibility.
  11. Don’t use television as a baby sitter.
  12. Spend an hour reading Scripture, a Christian book or magazine, or doing a ministry for each hour you watch TV.
  13. Consider dropping cable, Showtime, HBO, or any other service that you determine is importing ungodliness or temptation into your home.
  14. If you find you can’t control it–or you’re tired of the battle–get rid of your television.

My own thoughts

There’s good advice here, although I don’t agree with all of them. My goal is not to make TV a taboo in my home, but to monitor its use. TV isn’t evil, and it’s naive to divide shows into “good” and “bad.” Rather, most programming exists on a continuum between these two poles, and it takes wisdom and discernment to know what to watch. This means thoughtful consideration of everything I watch.

Even with programming that should be pretty safe, such as sports (which is most of what I watch), the commercials can be terrible. But other shows with very offensive material can be very edifying to watch, such as Clint Eastwood’s Gran Torino.

I used to be a frequent consumer of cable news, which I never watch anymore. I hardly find it worthwhile “breaking news” to watch a live car chase in southern California.

As far as kids go, we allow our children measured exposure to approved programming. If we make the television taboo, as many Christian parents do, then we create a forbidden fruit and increase their desire for it. I sometimes let them watch Reds baseball with me, and they quickly discover that not all things on TV are interesting. But we occasionally make a special family movie night where we make popcorn and put on a kids movie and watch it together.

What are your thoughts on TV use in the home?

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