By Lewis Willis
I saw an advertisement from TV Guide that an upcoming article will have as its subject, the influence of television on America’s children. I have not read the article so I have no idea what will be said. However, I frequently think of the influence television has on our children and I become alarmed because of it. I wonder sometimes if parents are as alert to the influence and danger of TV as they ought to be. If your home is typical, your children spend many hours each week in front of the set. What are they seeing there? How will it affect their thinking now and in the future? Will they be able to distinguish between right and wrong? Will they elect to believe the message of television, or the message that you’re presenting to them from the Bible? What is television’s influence on your child?
1. Money is one of the prominent messages of TV. It seems to matter very little how you get it – just get it! The glamorous life of those with money is extolled. The financial condition of all others is portrayed as undesirable. The message to our children is “get money.”
2. Sex is the beginning, middle and the end of everything on most programs our children watch. Almost every product advertised is presented with a sexual overtone. The beautiful, handsome, healthy, successful and popular use the product being advertised. The implication is you are a “nerd” if you don’t use the product. Additionally, fornication, adultery and homosexuality are not only depicted, but they are presented as an acceptable lifestyle. Those who would frown upon these forms of sin are out-of-step with reality.
3. Violence is the only way to get anything worthwhile done if you follow the thinking and action of television’s heroes and heroines. It would be virtually impossible for a youngster to watch a night of television without seeing murder, war, rape, car crashes and a brutal fist fight. And, these things are shown as commonplace.
4. Drugs, alcohol, smoking and profanity are standard fare on most programs. Our young men and women learn all kinds of wonderful things from television. If you’re going to be “in,” young people of the country are lead to believe that these things must be a part of their lives. When a three or four year old spouts off some of this filth, his parents find it “cute.” But when he or she spouts it at age 15, those same parents are “alarmed.” We’d better start thinking!
5. Religion is ridiculed on a consistent basis. True, the telecasts of religious organizations “invite” such ridicule. However, the role of TV’s producers seems to be to portray all religion in as ridiculous a light as possible. Almost every time a person is shown who has religious convictions, that person is represented as one so out of step with the times, or so fanatical that no one in his right mind would consider his lifestyle desirable. And, in TV plots, every preacher is shown as a “fool.” This is what your child is lead to believe.
6. Marriage, as God ordained it, is portrayed as “silly.” No one who is “with it” believes in one man one wife. Marriage is shown as that brief time of deception and fighting between divorces. Series stars change marriage partners more often than you change your dinner menu. The home is shown as a battleground, between husband and wife, or, parents and children. Until The Cosby Show, one would watch a lot of TV before seeing family life presented decently.
I clipped the following illustration on what TV is doing to our children:
I remember as a kid hearing gospel preachers warn of the destructive influence of movies and television. TV, in those days, was a novelty. So much of what they had to say was spoken about movies. Anyway, they talked about how movies would ultimately corrupt whole generations of people. And, the movies they talked about are the “golden oldies” which are such an exception in today’s TV fare. Those movies molded the thinking of people and prepared them to accept the filth and garbage presented today. If those old preachers could speak, they might be disposed to say, “I told you so.” I also remember how those preachers were laughed at and ridiculed when they preached those sermons about the evils of movies. It would be interesting to know what some of those “laughing” parents think today when they scan the columns of TV Guide, looking for decent programs to watch. Since I am seeking to say the same thing those old timers used to say, go ahead and laugh at this point – then, think again about the message of this article.
There is an awful lot about television which I do not understand. The entire process of telecasting something which I can receive in my home miles away is beyond me. One think I know, the “off” button is the greatest invention on a TV set. It needs to be used often!
Guardian of Truth XXX: 15, p. 461
August 7, 1986