Dear Young People,

A kitchen knife is meant for cutting vegetables. But, in the wrong hands, it can be used to injure someone. So it is with the television. As a tool, it is an excellent educator and entertainer. But careless television viewing is dangerous.

Manage time carefully

With a hundred channels available, 24 hours everyday, seven days of the week, it is easy to get into the trap of watching far too much TV. To justify watching a good program because it is “good” is not good enough because there could be several “good” programs at any given point of time. Will you then watch TV all the time?

You must ensure that you watch TV only after setting apart time for the following:

  • Individual Bible reading and prayer (How much time do you set apart for this very important activitiy?_____minutes)
  • Family prayer time (Do you ensure that your family meets for prayer everyday? Yes/No/Sometimes)
  • Sleep (How many hours do you need everyday? _____hours)
  • Homework (How many hours do you need for school work? ____ hours)
  • Spending time with family (Do you find enough time to talk to your family members? Yes/No)
  • Practicing a hobby (What are your hobbies? How much time do you spend on these?)
  • Exercise (Obesity is a real danger. What kind of physical exercise do you do everyday?________________)

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise men but as ___________, making the most of the __________, because the days are evil. (Eph 5:15, 16)

Careful selection of programs to watch
Satan controls the media. Even the news these days is not suitable for children to watch. Advertisements are sometimes not clean. Many of the serials are not wholesome. But even if we watch only the good programs, those too depict the ways of the world.

Materialism and non-Christian practices (like careless dating, couples living together before marriage, and so on) are shown as part of the normal modern-day lifestyle, and soon we might forget that God hates many of these practices. So when you sit before the TV, do remember that you are a child of Almighty God who has given you a very special calling, and live accordingly.

I urge you to live a life __________ of the _________ you have received. (Eph 4:1)

Research has shown that the content on TV influences the perceptions and behaviors of young people. Do you think you are strong and will not be affected by these things?

Therefore let him who thinks he __________ take heed lest he _________ (1 Cor. 10:12)

Be careful not to get addicted
Even if news is all you watch, you can become obsessed with it. Today you have so much on the air. You have BBC and CNN and NDTV for English news. Similarly, you have Sun TV and Jaya TV for those watching in Tamil. The temptation to see all the versions of a particularly absorbing story is great. If this is the case with the news, it is much more so with talk shows and even more so with serials. Some serials just make monkeys out of us, wasting our time. Have you ever been caught up in a telephone call or by a visitor when your favorite program was on? Did you feel restless and long to get back to the TV? That is a sign of addiction. We are slaves to God alone. We must not be slaves to a TV program.

But now that you have been set free from sin and have become ___________ to __________, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. (Rom 6:22)

There was a time when our pastor felt that he was getting addicted to his morning coffee. So he stopped drinking coffee for some months as a discipline. If you feel that a particular TV program is too compelling, you could try to avoid it till you get it out of your system. Do not allow yourself to become addicted to anything.

Guidelines for Parents

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has laid out several guidelines for parents. Some of the guidelines that have to do with TV viewing are:

  • Limit children’s total media time (with entertainment media) to no more than 1 to 2 hours of quality programming per day.
  • Remove television sets from children’s bedrooms.
  • Discourage television viewing for children younger than 2 years, and encourage more interactive activities that will promote proper brain development, such as talking, playing, singing, and reading together.
  • Monitor the shows children and adolescents are viewing. Most programs should be informational, educational, and nonviolent.
  • View television programs along with children, and discuss the content.
  • Encourage alternative entertainment for children, including reading, athletics, hobbies, and creative play.

This shows that people everywhere are aware of the problems that TV viewing causes but are helpless. Young people in this church are blessed indeed to live in families where parents are careful about these things.

(Nahomi Dhinakar; Published in Youth Column of Dhyanamlar June 2006) Click here for other Youth Column articles