In referring to the television and radio, Pope Pius XII wrote "This then must be the principal aim of the cinema, sound broadcasting and television: to serve the cause of truth and virtue." (The Cinema, Sound Broadcasting and Television by
Pope Pius XII 'Miranda Prorsus' 1957 page 16, article 35)
Does this happen in fact, when our cinema, broadcasting and television are controlled by liberals and humanists instead of God-fearing men? Pius XII has given us great ideals to strive for in this realm, but every Christian knows that most of what comes into
our living room these days has fallen way short of this goal. Our society has moved away from Christian values and this is reflected in what comes across our TV screens every day. If we are not in any position to change the vice that we are exposed to, most often our only recourse is to push the off button.
That is not to say that there is absolutely nothing good on television, but unfortunately these days one must often go hunting for the wholesome, whether it means switching channels, waiting for something better to come on or having recourse to a well-chosen DVD.
One of the beauties of life before the media was all the time people used for hobbies and developing their God-given talents. Also, before mass television viewing, amongst children no one had heard of Attention Deficit Disorder, which in my opinion we can blame the television. In The New Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease, which has the best chapter on TV that I have ever read (Ch. 7) Jim says, "Parents regularly use television as a babysitter - yet how many would hire a sitter who systematically taught children to solve most of their problems violently, to desire things they didn't need, and to lie and cheat because most of the time you'd never be punished. Far fetched? Read on." (Penquin Books, copyright 1989, p. 119)
Jim goes on to explain how modern day television stereotypes and corrupts.
When God gave Moses the first commandment (“I am the Lord thy God; thou
shalt not have strange Gods before Me.” Exodus 20:2-3) up on Mt. Sinai, the Israelites were down below dancing around their manmade golden calf. Moses was outraged at their infidelity to God after all He had done to bring them out of their slavery in Egypt.
Today, the golden calf is the television, holding many souls under its bondage and homage. These slaves give this golden calf the most prominent place in their home. Scandalously, in some Christian homes, this idol stands in place of where the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus should be.
When guests arrive, it is not they but the calf that is given the courtesies of etiquette.
When the father of the family comes home from a long day of work, his children are brushed aside as the calf is listened to in earnest. Apparently the idol has more important things to say then the little souls God left in their father's care. Of course, it is these souls who the father must account for on judgment day, not the calf.
When some members of the family want to share something of importance, they are usually given the glare of death for “interrupting” the golden calf. The calf then “moo's” louder to overcome their voices. In normal circumstance, this would be considered rude. But, the calf is NEVER considered rude. That of course would be politically incorrect.
Even when no one wishes to listen to the calf, it is allowed to jabber indefinitely in the background as if its non-presence would be a sin.
It does not matter to the calf's slaves that it has turned all their minds off and has taken the joyful sparkle out of little children's eyes. The exchange for the “excitement” of listening to and seeing the calf is worth the brain damage.
In the home with the golden calf, God is not allowed to whisper in the silence of hearts. Instead, God is put on the shelf for “whims” and “emergencies”. In the meantime, it is the idol that is the speaker to hearts on all subjects - error or none.
No matter how foul the golden calf becomes, dumping manure on the floor, it continues to be treated as if it is the majesty and royalty of all. This is one place
where its slaves don't even bother to clean up!
The golden calf brings violence, impurity and idleness into the home and still the most “pious” of Christians allow it to remain as if it were owner of both the home and the family. The golden calf's slaves rarely consider turning it in for a better master. But, what slave wishes to be free from the golden calf of television, when he can be entertained?
The reason this is such a "hot" topic in my life and why I've written this article is because I can speak from experience for I learned from a TV-free home.
Growing up I was a typical American TV addict, being sucked into the evening shows (the
rest the family was watching) and putting off my homework until late when I had quiet in the house.
I remember the TV's constant seductive pull. But, underlying
that I remember many resentments I had with the TV-
I hated how it broke down our family communication. I grew
up in a large family of seven children and I remember that
the TV just always added chaos into our already busy, chatty,
The phone would ring and whoever was trying to talk had to talk
over the television, which mom had to yell to the children
to turn down, which they didn't want to because they couldn't
hear it over the voice of whoever was talking on the telephone.
I resented how it was the center of everything in our life. With
a large family, it was always on with someone watching something.
Between school, work and after school activities, if any of us watched
TV, it then meant no personal time, no reflection time, no
quiet prayer time and no hobby time.
I resented the constant noise TV brought into the house. I resented
the commercials that were time wasters.
When I got away from home the first time and had no TV, I suddenly
realized how I had all of this new found time to develop my interests.
So many students go off to college and don't even know themselves
and thus flounder trying to decide a vocation. I think TV has been
a big hindrance in people knowing themselves and developing
their God-given talents. Because the main gist is that when you
are watching TV, then obviously it is eating away the precious time
that you could be doing these other things.
I thought too often as I grew in my prayer life what a serious obligation
we have to be accountable for in how we spend our time. An hour of legitimate
recreation every day is our right, but when there are so many other wonderful
things we can do - hike, bike, paint, write, spend with friends, play ball etc...
read a good book, when we compare those with watching TV, television rarely
compares. The alternatives to watching TV are a much better use of our time.
I grant we can learn from use of the TV (good history documentaries etc.) and I myself enjoy a good movie curled up on the coach with a bowl of popcorn, but how often do we make
it a daily habit when instead we could be reading the bible or the life of a Saint
for example or reaching out to someone? In my 15 years of reading hundreds of lives of the Saints who made God their main goal, I came to the conclusion that none of them became
saints by wasting their time in front of the TV. They give us the ideal to aim for
even if we don't have to be so rigid to throw out the TV altogether.
It bothers me that when families get together to visit or friends do that
often a movie is presented and the precious friendship time that was
meant to be spent together was instead passed watching a show. (That
is when the original intent was to have time together, versus when you
make a point to gather together to watch something particular). So
often we let the pull of the TV get in the way of growing in our good
My children, whom I home schooled for five years, are now in school.
At my house they have their regular hobby time outside of school but
it has been drastically reduced with the school commute. This is a heartache
as I see my children's longing to have those hours once again, to really
dive deep into exploring a topic or drawing (my daughters used to draw
two hours a day on their own accord...now I cry thinking how this
precious talent of theirs lays dormant and is not given the chance to be developed because
THERE IS NO TIME!) or working on a special project. How do you think
the great artists became so great? Watching TV? I don't think so.
It wasn't because they were being
"socialized" with their peers. It wasn't because they spent every 40 minutes
switching subjects all day. It wasn't because they had constant noise in
their life being surrounded by a ton of people. No, it was because they
had hours upon hours that they self explored, or self developed and nurtured
their particular God-given talent. (Think Bach, Michelangelo, etc...)
TV time often robs children of that opportunity. Think how many geniuses and artists, men and women who could have made a difference, have not pursued the discipline to be great because they have been dumbed-down by television fare.
My daughter refuses to spend her snack time playing with the other children.
She plays with children at recess, is with them all day in school, is surrounded
by her siblings and neighbors all afternoon who are in and out when she
is with her dad and then TV, dinner and homework eat up the rest of her time.
At only eight years old she took the matter into her own hands. She said to me
"Mom, I have no time alone! So, at snack time I take it as my own. I sit
at my desk and make cards for my friends, which is what I want to do."
Unfortunately, she had some misguided well-meaning adults who took
her to a psychologist trying to make out there was something wrong with
her because she wanted fifteen minutes to herself each day!!!! (Because
she wasn't "socializing" with the other children during that time!) How
ridiculous!!! I yelled at all of them. I said, you as an adult want your alone
time. You want your hour or two hours a day all to yourself to do your own
thing, to think, to pray, to do whatever! Why can't you give an 8-year old
child the same courtesy and for just fifteen minutes!!?
Children need some time alone each day to PROCESS (mentally, psychologically,
spiritually and physically) all that is thrown
at them. Unfortunately TV once again bombards them with more STUFF
to process...more than their little minds can handle often- that is especially
the little ones, harming and hindering their development and their little nervous systems by TV overload.
My eight-year old daughter goes straight to her doll house on a Saturday to
spend time in imaginative play which is so important to children's development
at that age. Another thing TV robs children of is imagination, since it does
the imagining for them! How do you think adults become GREAT PROBLEM SOLVERS?
It isn't by watching TV! It began in toddler-hood and pre-school
by spending hours building forts, playing with blocks, making up plays etc...
all USING THEIR OWN IMAGINATION. We have set our society up for a huge crises
by turning out a few generations of boob-tube drones who can't think
When I was in junior high and high school and then was a nanny in my twenties
and babysat throughout all of those years for hundreds of families (literally
I spent 2 to 4 nights a week babysitting), the biggest lesson I came away
with all of those years was how harmful TV is to little children. Not only
are there the obvious problems with many of the shows promoting violence,
the breakdown of family communication etc... but children who watch
TV...GET DEPRESSED. Why? Because they are not being active which
is what every little child NEEDS to be doing, they are interrupting that
much needed PROCESSING TIME (as they are learning so much) AND
they get BORED. Regular wholesome activities that should liven and excite
a child they come to find BORING because too much TV-watching throws
so much at their little nervous systems and puts them on overload that
the rest of life seems dull and unexciting.
I see it in my own children. It has been one of my biggest heartaches
the last few years as half the week they are in the care of others totally
outside of my control (I'm in a joint custody situation sorrowfully, grievingly
and unfortunately) to see my children who would sit still literally FOR HOURS
to enjoy great books that we would read and discuss together (I will
never forget my little girl, my oldest daughter when she was four, sitting on the couch with
her dad one Easter afternoon for FOUR HOURS listening and TOTALLY captivated
to the precious story of Heidi. He kept trying to put the book down,
but she kept urging him on and he was enjoying himself so, that he complied!)
instead be totally fidgity and unable to settle down because they now
enjoy a TV-junk lifestyle (and lots of computer time too) half of the week
with other caretakers. I can barely get through one book with them now
as they can't concentrate well any more. And no wonder they flounder in
Those things that ten years in a TV-free home (we watched nothing for the first seven
years that I had children, and now we do watch movies on a monitor but they are well
chosen, carefully and consciously picked out) that I didn't have to deal with
(whining about what they wanted because they saw it on TV, for example)
made my parenting so much easier and made our relationships
so much more wholesome and gratifying. Now the consequences of the golden calf are my new heartache as my children complain
constantly, "I'm bored!"
I have hundreds of wonderful educational interesting things to do in my house
that my children used to do for hours in delight (I do not believe in having
a sparse home for children where there is nothing to do with their hands
and thus all they are left with is to be idle and fight) that now they find
BORING! Why??? That stupid TV!!!! It takes them a whole day when
they come back to my house to readjust and get back to into the WHOLESOME
mode away from that IMAGINATION SQUASHER, BRAIN-DULLER, IMAGE BOMBARDMENTER!
(you guessed it, the TV)
One caretaker last year who was so intent that my children SHOULD be in school
all day and claimed I wasn't educating them. My only comment is come to my house and see
all the "educating" I did with them - bookshelves upon bookshelves of projects
and reading etc. we did together not to mention the exploring we were able
to do out in the REAL WORLD because they weren't stuck inside four walls
each day. But now my children's "caretakers" let them watch up to 3 to 5 hours of TV each day! I said,
"This is YOUR idea of educating my children? You show then you know NOTHING
about children!" I finally concluded and realized that this caretaker just couldn't handle my children
and was too busy on the computer to watch them and used the TV as a babysitter.
Why else would that be allowed to happen? I am not talking about their father by
I finally sent over a home school unit (this was just prior to when the judge put them in school
and I was sending over home school lessons) for the children to do about watching too much
television. They had to read the Berenstein's book "Too much TV". I then proceeded to educate
my children the best I could on this TV matter and encourage them on their own
to just leave the room and go play elsewhere or not turn on the TV in the first place
or just turn it off on their own accord instead of relying on their caretaker to
act responsibly in this matter.
Another problem with TV is that it is the number one cause of obesity in this country.
Growing up in a home with a health teacher as a dad I was always thrown articles and
given "talks" by dad about the importance of getting off our duff and outside to play.
Want to lose weight? Get rid of your TV! You'll be surprised that since you aren't
SITTING you thus then are NOT MUNCHING! As well, you are being active INSTEAD of
One of the things I really learned to appreciate about a TV-free home was the hours I
now had to read, especially when that was practically ALL I could do when breast-feeding
my five children over the years. Though I got pretty good at nursing at a table and
thus paying my bills, sewing or doing art at the same time.
The book I mention above, "The New Read Aloud Handbook" by
Jim Trelease is a bombshell about the importance and joys of reading and how harmful modern day
TV actually is to your family, especially your children. I recommend this book to everyone whether they have children or not. Every human being can benefit from this book.
Dr. Mercola has an interesting health website where he has some great personal essays
on TV. He also often posts and reviews many articles about television. If you want
to read about research done about TV viewing, go to his website and
do a search: TV or Television. He scans all of the medical journals for good articles and then posts them and then attaches his own critical commentary
to each of them.
One of the other pains about television is all the flippant back-talking and disrespect to adults
that children pick up from it as well as bad language. My three eldest children learned
to be obedient and respectful. Now I have to deal with the bad habits my two youngest
have picked up from the TV. It's like when my husband, shortly after we were married went to work at a financial institution where profanity was the norm all day with his co-workers. He had never used profanity prior to that. The only thing that cured him from using the same language
around our house is that I made him say a Hail Mary for every cuss word that came across
his lips. Thankfully it worked. Unfortunately, it has not worked yet with my three and five
year old. Bad habits are so hard to shake. It takes constant vigilance. The problem is the
promoter of the bad habit is the TV and has not been removed. It is still an occasion of sin
for them half of the week and I am not there to use any consistency in replacing the bad habit.
My poor children. Please pray for them! I am sure I am not, to use a phrase that ironically began on TV, the "Lone Ranger."
The last thought I want to share about TV viewing is in regard to little children. Toddlers
and babies shouldn't even watch it. It is so harmful to their development. Once again, I point you to
reading articles about the research on TV. Pre-schoolers' development can be delayed
and inhibited also by TV as it blocks the important "messy media" stage of their life.
Instead of painting, playing, imagining, building, gluing, cutting, drawing etc... that are so important to the development of their mind and nervous system, children are passively starry-eyed in front of the TV.
Several generations now have shown the ill effects of this passive, submissive invention that has so damaged not only minds and bodies, not to mention imaginations, but souls. That is why I call it the golden calf in the living room. Remember Christ's words: "No man can serve two masters". Do you serve the golden calf or Christ. You should know by now one cannot serve both.
If I am to leave one thought with readers today it is this: The next time you think
of turning on the TV spend a moment thinking "What am I MISSING OUT ON by turning
this on today?" and, even more pertinent, "What will I MISS OUT on in God's eyes if I waste my time in front of the golden calf?"