Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Television for Kids

Photo courtesy of

Well, it's summer, and you know what that means! 

Hours and hours of TV watching! 

I'm anti-TV, and I'm not afraid to say it. There are some very frightening statistics about TV watching. Be sure to click over and take a look, you'll be amazed. But I'll highlight them for you. 

The average child watches 1,680 minutes of television every week (that's 28 hours) and spends only 3.5 minutes per week engaged in meaningful conversation with his or her parents. Read that again. 

I am a very strict parent when it comes to television viewing. We do not watch most shows aimed at kids, including Spongebob, Wizards of Waverly Place, Good Luck Charlie or Shake It Up (if you have tweens, I'm sure you've heard of these). 

Many parents feel these are harmless, entertaining and often cute shows, and as to the second and third points, they are. And while I wouldn't always go so far as to call them harmful, they aren't harmless. Our kid's minds are developing every moment of every day. Just like we feed our children healthy food so their bodies can develop, we have to put good examples of character and behavior in front of them so their minds and character can develop properly.

Young children do not have the discernment that adults have. They don't have the ability to see something on TV and understand it as good or bad. We teach them that. Everything they take in becomes part of their base line - the store of understanding they base their life upon. If you place in front of them role models who are consumed with fashion, boyfriend/girlfriend relationships, avoiding or disrespecting authority, and placing the opinions of their peers over all else, that is what they will strive to become. 

In the words of the American Psychiatric Association, "We have had a long-standing concern with the impact of television on behavior, especially in children."

For me, choosing television for my kids to watch is based on asking some questions about the show. First, and most important - "Do the characters behave in a way I want my kids to behave?" Are they kind and compassionate? Are they hardworking? Do they respect their elders? Do they treat their friends well? Do they do the right thing? 

How do the characters present themselves? Any young girl in mini skirts and heels is not getting top billing with my kids. 

And the question all of us Christians should be asking, "Does this show glorify God? Does it teach me to live a life that honors Christ?"

Isn't that what the Bible commands us? 

"And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise." New Living Translation

Very, very few television shows meet the standards laid forth here. Does that mean a half hour of Nickelodeon is going to turn my kids against God? Well, no. Let's not be dramatic. But I do think it's important to filter what our kids watch, and to balance the influence of TV, movies and music with solid relationships with our kids and examples of good, Godly character.

There are, however, times when that TV comes to good use around here. Like when I want to shower uninterrupted. And there are some really good shows out there. Tomorrow I'll share my top picks for preschoolers, followed by top picks for older kids later this week. 

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