Sunday, February 5, 2012

TV together

“Make the most of your time…”-Eph. 5:16

I could be wrong (I have been a plenty of times), but I’m pretty sure that the medium of television is here to stay. Research points out that the average American home has their TV on for 6 hours and 47 minutes. Some of the programming is healthy and some is not. Shows like Sesame Street and the Andy Griffith Show instill positive values in our kids. Like most electronic devices, TV is a neutral entity. It’s how we allow the medium to affect us that makes the difference. Some parents, convinced that TV is evil, have no televisions in their homes. Perhaps a better idea is to teach kids how to use it in a healthy way.

While we were visiting Elizabeth, Mark and our beautiful 20-month old granddaughter Reese a few weeks ago, I took the attached picture of Reese and Gigi (Jeanie) watching Sesame Street together. Sure, it’s just a television show, but more than that it was a small bonding time for them. Notice Reese’s leg on her Gigi. Television time can be healthy family time if we follow a few guidelines.

Choose programming carefully. Obviously, there is plenty of inappropriate “trash” shown 24 hours a day on multiple programs. There are shows that support just about every negative moral struggle in our society. But there are also shows that provide historical entertainment and support healthy values of relationships and faith. Even sports are a fun medium to watch along with movies that teach important life lessons. There are lots of choices and it’s important that we teach our kids which shows are appropriate and which are not.

Let your kids be in on the choice. I loved my dad dearly, but he ruled the TV in our home growing up. He often would fall asleep on the couch watching a show we didn't prefer. We would practically do an EEG on his brain to make sure he was really asleep and then carefully change the channel to something us boys wanted to watch. But he would always wake up and ask us why we switched the channel. “Dad, you were asleep,” we’d say. With a smile, he’d tell us “I was hearing every word.” Make the choices as a family. Honor your kids by letting them choose the channel. It makes it more fun if the remote is passed around.

Use the channel changer. Even choosing the appropriate programs doesn't block out the inappropriate commercials that pop up every 10 minutes or so. With remote in hand, it’s easy to switch to the Weather Channel or another show in progress. Teaching our kids how to monitor and discern is preparing them for the dorm room one day or their own home.

Have fun. There is a way to enjoy the time together through engaging conversation and being “with” each other. Sure, in an intense movie it's hard to converse, but during a sporting event use the time to converse and have relax.

Enjoying family TV time can be both a fun time together and also a teaching time for the kids to learn how to use the television as a healthy part of life. Six hours of TV a day? That might be a little much. The kids need to be playing outside and reading books. But when the TV is on and Winnie the Pooh is singing, sing along with him. Engage with your kids and have a blast.
TV isn't evil in of itself. Teach your kids how to use it wisely. And then they’ll learn the lesson for life.

By Eric Joseph Staples ©

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