Despite the title of this article, I do not really think that we are all guilty of worshiping the god of the underworld. I am, however, quite turned off by the amount of affection and devotion we give to the unworthy television. Last week I was teaching a class of four year olds, and before the lesson began, one of the children informed me that she had to leave early so she could get home in time for American Idol. As a society, I'm afraid we truly have made television an idol - and not just an American one. Studies disagree on how much we watch per week; studies agree that we watch too much.
My husband I refuse to give others remote control of our home, and have taken several steps to channel our boys away from the seductive and addictive influence of the television. We thank the major networks for loaning us their initials to broadcast our system to you:
CBS - Cut the Box on Schooldays. Consider taking the extreme position of not allowing television on weekdays. This has earned us the title of 'most unreasonable parents in the school', but we wear it with pride. To soften our image, we allow television freedom on the weekends, after chores and homework.
MSNBC - Make Summertime Nice. Bribe Children. During the nine weeks school is out, television time can be bought. For every minute spent on reading, we award time on the television or computer. We have an Excel spreadsheet that keeps up with time earned and spent. (If you're interested, e-mail me and I'll send you a copy.)
FOX - Filter Out X#$&%. What children watch is often worthless, at best. At its worst, television undermines everything we teach as it spews foul language, violence, casual attitudes about sex, and disrespect for authority. Our family uses TV Guardian to help with the language. The other negative elements are impossible to remove, which is why the television has an 'off' button.
NBC - Note Basic Content. Teach your kids to evaluate a program by its main premise. "Aladdin" is one of my favorite movies, but it quite frankly glorifies being a thief. Gentle "E. T." leaves the impression that adults aren't to be trusted, and that dishonesty is justified when its purposes are noble. After watching a show, ask, "What did that movie just say? Was it a positive message or a negative one? How did it try to influence you?"
CNN - Cultivate Natural iNquisitiveness. Try to broaden your world so that your children are interested in more than cartoons and sit-coms. Make friends with those from other cultures. Discuss world events. Travel and visit museums to pique interest in topics explored on The Discovery and History Channels.
BET - Be Exemplary Teachers. A student doesn't rise above the teacher. Set a good example to your children by developing good viewing habits. Participate in National TV Turnoff Week April 21 - 27, and evaluate how addicted to the television you are.
Go ahead. Touch that dial. Adjust your family's antenna away from the television. The signal will be fuzzy at first, but over time, I think your reception will become a lot clearer. And may the archaeologists of the future find your home so devoid of the influence of the television that they identify you as a pagan.
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