Thursday, May 03, 2007

thursday thoughts on television

You all know of my LOST vice. (Awesome season, BTW) We download from iTunes. . . commercial free.

For the nearly 14 years of our marriage, we've had a television and enjoyed selective videos, but we have never had cable or had continual access to network television. Its made me a bit culturally irrelevant. Our kids don't really understand commercials and think you should be able to rewind tv shows, when they see them. Its one of our grand parenting experiments. Seems like so many families I know are making a similar choice.

I ran across these several quotes on the World Magazine Blog this morning:

Television is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome.

Television is called a medium because it is neither rare nor well done.

The television business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs for no good reason.

If you spend all your time watching TV, then you deserve what you get. You don't get much by simply sitting and staring. The drooling fool in the corner can do that. (Might apply to our computer screens, too!)
What do you think? If you've "shut it off and shut it out," what's been your experience? Do you miss it? What has been the impact on your life, marriage and family?


Brianna Heldt said...

We are not big TV watchers. We have a TV, VCR and DVD player, but no cable or satellite (just an antennae). The only current TV show we watch is The Office but we enjoy a few shows on DVD, and we do watch movies. (And Kevin has poor Andy to tape the football/basketball games for him that we don't pull in.)

I love not having the TV on constantly, and that as time goes on I won't have to worry about my kids regularly seeing stuff in our home that I don't want them to see (violence, sensuality, the negative way African Americans are portrayed in much of the media). I also hope this will foster in them a love for good books and reading, something both Kevin and I enjoy.

Tim Weaver said...

Karen and I lived TV-less for many years. I would go out to eat when I wanted to watch a ball game. We would watch movies on the computer. You do so much more without it. Karen and I read books to one another and played games together more before the TV and kids. We got a TV about 2 years ago and kids 1 year ago. TV had a small effect on our time reading and playing games. Kids???? HUGE change. We get CBS and NBC with the rabbit ears. We watch DVDs, CSI, Law and Order, The Amazing Race, and some football. I keep debating getting cable. I would like to be able to watch some of the NBA playoffs with my sons. It was fun watching some of the NCAA toury with them. It would be nice to watch Monday Night Football with them, too. What I don't want to happen is we start watching a lot of junk and the TV becomes the center of our family. I would love to just add ABC and ESPN, perhaps FOX, Discovery, and History as well. I don't want most of the stuff. Not sure if that really answers the questions, but that is our TV profile and my thinking. TV doesn't really enhance my life much. I could easily live without it again.

Lara said...

Once we had graduated from school Darin and I got into a habit of turning the TV on a dinner time and then we often got sucked in and ended up staying right there on the couch until 11:00pm (or later). The next Easter season we decided to practice Lent and gave up all TV for 40 days (which is harder than you'd think, there are TVs everywhere!). It was a wonderful experience. We enjoyed the time spent talking with each other and doing other activities so much more than watching TV. We still watch TV occasionally, but it's much easier to turn it off now because we know what we are missing.

Joe Pollon said...

Cable TV has been out of our home for most of the last six years now. We feel better about ourselves without it. There is less noise in the house. We have more time to be together, read and pursue hobbies. When the kids are bored they build things, do experiments, play together or practice piano. They don't know Bart, Spongbob or Hannah Montana. They don't know what an X-box is but they know where to find frogs in our backyard and how to hold a snake.

We have purchased the Little House on the Prairie series and the kids love it. We love how it models such great values as kindness, respect and work.

Since turning it off, I have found that I have become far more sensative to and affected by the media I do come in contact with. The violence and exploitation of women in movies, magazines outdoor advertising and news jumps painfully out at me when I'm not constantly barraged with it on TV. I'm also more aware of the acts of kindness and caring that present themselves in my circle of contacts and even the children's books I read to my kids. Sometimes I can't finish reading a page without a pause to compose myself.

We are sometimes greeted with odd looks when we tell people we don't have television. They usually don't say much and I don't know what they are thinking. But having turned off all the messages pressuring us toward conformity, the opinion of others has become far less important.

Ryan MacConnell said...

Ok, I was listening to a presentation and the speaker gave some numbers that got me thinking that we also need to think about how we spend our time on computers as well.

In 2003, 9,000,000,000 man-hours of solitaire were played.

Here are some other numbers to put that in perspective:
Construction of the Panama Canal:
7 million man-hours (6.8 hours of solitaire)

Building the Empire State Building:
20 million man-hours (less than 1 day of solitaire)

Kate said...

When Travis and I first got married we had rabbit ears and would watch a few shows after dinner and then hit the books (we were both still in school at that time). But when we moved to Connecticut we didn't have enough room to bring our TV with us, so we just did without. Travis bought a DVD drive for our computer so we could watch movies on that. But without the TV around our life together has been much better. We learned how to spend time together in our first few years. We got married so young that I think it was critical for us to really really get to know each other and lean on each other and figure out this whole "marriage thing" and I believe that not having a TV significantly helped. We play games, talk, and Travis reads aloud to me while I work on my projects. We love our evenings together and for now don't plan on ever getting a television set again. Plus, I am so glad that we don't have one while our girls are growing up. TV is full of scarey, sexual, and unedifying images that I am thankful they won't have to see flashing in our home.

Missy Grant said...

Thanks Ryan for your comment. I was thinking about exactly what you brought up. Tim, you asked specifically about TV, but lets talk multi media. Several of the quotes you posted from the World Mag Blog could be pointed towards electronic media and technology as well.

It seems like a few families have responded to the TV question, but what about computer games, iPod use, video games (X-box, Play Station etc...). I've noticed a trend in some families I come in contact with. They pulled the plug on TV (which I think is a great idea!!) but are heavy in the other areas of media including computer time.

I wish I could remember the reference but I recently read a great article talking about our college age students and high school students who can't go anywhere without being connected to their phones and/or ipods. The example was given of a student who can't sit quietly by themself at a coffee shop because it 'feels' uncomfortable because they don't know how to engage in public.

Now, I don't necessarily experience this with our college kids at church, but I do with the High School age ones. I think media in general is not healthy on most levels. I loved what Joe P. wrote. I do think you are in the minority, Joe. Because you said NO to media as opposed to just TV and did not allow the space to be filled up with another technology.

In our house my kids have to earn technology time. It is earned by acts of kindness. We use a peg board and they get 10 minutes for each disc that is earned. Up to 60 minutes in a two week time period. A couple of tricks to it, though. There is no 'do this and you get...' list. We reward on observed behavior towards others. They never quite know when they will be rewarded. It also fosters their ability to work together to combine their minutes if they want to watch a video for lets say 60 minutes but only have 20 minutes of reward. It has worked well in our family.

We have a TV, but I am not a watcher of it except for some soccer occasionally. My kids aren't as tech savy as some, but I do like the fact that my 11 year old had some time on his hands, went outside for a couple of hours and built an awesome catapult (as long as the windows don't get broken). It takes a lot of parental forethought, control and discussion to keep out the Babylonian influences in our society.

Suzette said...

We have had times with a dish and without. Right now we have a dish(my parents started really wanted it and we thought we could limit it). I miss the no dish days. It has been so hard to have it and not watch it. We used to spend time all together our family and my parents talking and reading books. That doesnt't happen much now. I miss it.
Also even though I have so many of those channels blocked some really wierd stuff still gets in sometimes. Even the history channel will have the most suggestive commercials sometimes.

To anyone with out cable or dish I would say you are so lucky. Once it is there it can be really hard to control and it is a hard habit to break. I hope that when my parent's house is done, we can move the dish with them and just go cold turkey. My family seems a bit resist to that idea, but I hope we will do it anyway.

Jeannett Gibson said...

Oh how I would LOVE to throw our TV away! I've never been much of a watcher, so I can completely do without. My dear husband on the other hand, must have it on constantly. Even if he's not watching it. In fact, you don't know how many times he's out in the garage for HOURS and I finally just shut it off because I'm in another room and it's just blaring along to itself, and he comes in frustrated that it's been turned off. Apparently, he'd wanted to check the score? I do think that if it weren't for sports, we could do w/o TV...the downside is that between NBA season and NCAA tourney, there are only a short 3 months of no basketball...sigh...

andy gibson said...

Six months wife, but you we're close.

Although the FIBA America's Bball tournament (We need to win to qualify for the olympics) with a real dream team are on in August, so I'll give you that. But yes, I must have my sports, and like Tim Weaver hinted at, I will love watching and teaching sports with my soon-to-be-here son.

Joe Pollon said...

Tim and Andy,

I used to love watching sports with my dad. We were big Ram and Dodger fans back in the 70's. I don't watch at all now. How do you, or do you plan to deal with the commercial breaks? On the rare occasion that I do catch an event, I am taken aback by the intensity, volume and speed with which the commercials inundate me with violence, degraded women and sex.

Before I became a father I took it all in stride and it didn't really faze me--maybe because it really wasn't so intense then. Now, when I imagine seeing this stuff through the eyes of a young child, it blows me away.

I think it has to have an effect. Either a child becomes numbed out by it all or agitated and overstimulated.

Most of us as adults were slowly lulled into TV and the messages it sends. We watched the Ricardos and the Van Dykes who didn't even sleep in the same bed. Ted Baxter was funny. And the most intense sensual thing we saw was Marsha Brady.

What a young child catches just during the commercial breaks of a major sporting event seems as intense as any R-rated movie.

I don't mean to ruin the fun, but am I wrong?

andy gibson said...

Not wrong, but a difference of opinion. I could probably make the argument that you have become overstimulated and agitaged by it all, which is why even sports are out.

But for me, there will be an element of realism. My kids will have to understand that these things are a part of the world, and I will have to teach them to look away, turn it off, etc. and teach them why with a biblical perspective. Keeping them insulated for 18 years will do nothing to help their development, IMOP. I don't want my 18yo son going over to a friends house, seeing a questionable (maybe it will be a hairy chested guy with a beer belly and his pants hanging too "reality" video) commercial, and not knowing it is wrong, becoming overstimulated and scared, and not being able to explain to his friends why it is wrong from a bibilcal perspective. Now, that is not to say I am going to get all of the movie channels and keep Skinemax on for him at night or even make sure he watches commercials, but I will want him to understand the world we live in when he catches a commercial that I or Jeannett doesn't like, but for the most part, a pretty good job can be made just turning the TV on and off during commercials, or better yet, taking them out all together with a Tivo type system.

And for the record, I have spent way more time blogging this week than watching TV or playing solitaire. I wonder long it would take to build the Empire State Building with all of the hours spent blogging by Grace Churchians?

Joe Pollon said...

I would agree with you that 18 years of insulation would be unrealistic and unhealthy. One can't really become strong in their values without encountering and fending off the opposition just as you can't build a muscle without working it against some resistance.

However, I wouldn't drop two-hundred pounds on my six-year-old's chest and say "lift that."

So what is getting dropped on our kid's heart when we turn on the TV?

Tim Weaver said...

Just found that I somehow lost probably my too long post that I wrote this morning. Basically agreeing with Andy and Joe (and probably most people). I want my kids to see the unavoidable, but wrong, parts of the world with me. That way we can discuss a God-ward view of them.

I agree that you have to do it in a measured fashion. Where that line is drawn is something that each of us need to think and pray about. Each child is going to be able to handle different amounts at different ages. We should be careful to not pump them full of poison with the justification that we are 'teaching them to deal with the world'. It is the tendency that I know I learn toward.

If we do cable, I think we will do TiVo as well to avoid a good chunk of it. We'll get enough opportunities to process the grievousness of sin without piling on.

btw, sports may have more perverse commercials, but I see more than enough on the Amazing Race and CSI.

Lara said...

I agree with Andy that keeping kids sheltered for 18 years is a bad idea, but I just had a thought that maybe we should be spending time with non-christians and in the midst of spreading God's Kingdom we can teach our children to love and to know the difference between the world and God's kingdom. Instead of using the TV to do that. Just a thought.

I'm also wondering if I should give up my computer for lent next year. =)

Travis Thompson said...

I'm sorry if this comes up twice (or more...) I'm not sure if it's being posted or not and I really want to get my thoughts in on this one...

I completely agree with Lara. My first son is due to be born later this month and I loath the idea of getting a TV (we currently watch movies and TV shows on my laptop)

I don't think we need TV to show our kids the sin of the world. It will make itself very obvious on it's own. Enough of it will be in our presence that we will be able to have good conversations about it to show them the right way to deal with it. Not to mention, we should be talking to our kids about the issues going on in their lives while we're not there too! We don't need to bring it into our homes to show them.

And honestly, TV is terrible. I know it is easy to get hooked into watching it, but there is very little good anymore (if there ever was). Almost all sports are broadcast on the internet now, and the radio is just as good (and better for the imagination).

As far as the technology in general, I am a new high school teacher and it is unbelievable how attached kids are to their phones and ipods. They literally CANNOT put them down sometimes. It is so much worse than even when I was in high school (a mere 7 years ago). For some kids their phone is no less an addiction than a cigarette is to a smoker.

Ryan MacConnell said...

I recently was on a student committee discussing how technology would be used by the Cal Poly Computer Science Department. Amazingly enough we had to talk about how to address a technology gap that exists between upper classmen and underclassmen and incoming students.

My class is one of the last groups of people who went through elementary school without having internet access in the home, went through middle school (and most of high school) without having a cell phone, and in high school ipods weren’t allowed out while on campus (well ipods didn’t exist yet but those who brought a subset of their CD collection didn’t use them while on campus). Somehow we need to teach kids that technology, while is it a powerful tool, isn’t always there best friend and help them to understand how it can often hurt there relationships with people by isolating them.

Being a Computer Science major I love technology and am excited about how it will be used for the Kingdom in the future. Unfortunately, that same technology can also be used for sinful things too. As I look forward to being a parent someday, I realize that there is a huge responsibility for today’s parents to remain current on what their children might have access to through the new technology that is created.

Anonymous said...

Three reason why you should have cable.
1. animal planent
2. Jacques Cousteau
3. Blue planet

why not experince god pride and joy! the world.