Brian D. Dykstra, teacher at Hope PRCS in Walker, MI.
“I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well” (Ps. 139:14).
The 19 April, 2004 Grand Rapids Press contained an editorial entitled “Parenthood Unplugged.” After addressing the issue of what children watch on television, the article states, “A new study shows parents should be equally concerned about the sheer quantity of TV young children consume.”
The survey found that the more television youngsters age 1 and 3 watch, the likelier they are to develop attention deficit problems later in life ... At risk, investigators speculate, is the brain itself. Pliable and quickly-forming in toddlers, the organ may be altered by the fast-paced images and bursts of sound typical of television.
The American Society of Pediatrics recommends no television (their emphasis) for children under 2 years of age. Older children should be limited to one to two hours a day.
The study found that the longer youngsters sat in front of the TV, the greater the likelihood they would have difficulty concentrating, act restless and impulsive and become easily confused.
Even the best programming may change the delicate pathways of the brain and keep neurons from connecting.
As well-intentioned as they are, Kermit and Miss Piggy can’t substitute for Mom and Dad. This study is one more solid reason for parents to unplug and reclaim their rightful roles.
The March 2005 National Geographic also contained an article about the development and function of the brain. The article reports that during the first and second trimesters of pregnancy, a baby’s brain cells establish contacts (synapses) with each other at the rate of two million per second. Different areas of the brain continue to develop in various ways and rates even into early adulthood. “If there is a single theme that has dominated the past decade of neurological research, it is the growing appreciation of the brain’s plasticity—its ability to reshape and reorganize itself through adulthood.”
We are, indeed, fearfully and wonderfully made.
The world’s scientists are concerned about the effects of television on the development of the physical nature of the brain. Some members of society are worried about the possible effects upon behaviour caused by television viewing. Television has become a major part of society and consumes a significant portion of the typical American’s leisure time. An article in the February 2002 Scientific American entitled “Television Addiction is no mere metaphor” reported, “On average, individuals in the industrialized world devote three hours a day to the pursuit—fully half of their leisure time, and more than on any single activity save work and sleep.”
We Christians ought to be concerned about the use of television too. What are the spiritual effects of television viewing? Of course, the primary concern is the (often filthy) dramatic presentations of Hollywood. However, today, with the growth of cable television services, there is a host of non-dramatic offerings on the television. This can involve the issue of stewardship regarding the investment of time. Also, an impressive amount of money is spent to operate our schools each day. We stress the importance of teaching from a Reformed point of view. How much of this instruction is undone when we spend time watching TV?
As an example, a parent recently gave me a review of the movie Shrek, an animated fairy-tale style film about a large, green ogre. He found the review on the internet. I do not have the name of the web address for this review, but I noted with interest (or disappointment) that the line at the top of the first page said, “Shrek / a review from Christian Spotlight on the Movies.”
The author begins with what appears to be a typical movie review. He then explains why the film has a PG rating, assuring readers, “There’s a small amount of mild sexual innuendo, which is bound to go way over the heads of most children.” He then concludes with some comments about why this film would be acceptable fare for Christians. “On the positive side, Shrek has a lot of good, clean humor and some good messages. The biggest moral of the story is the wrongfulness of judging people by their appearance ... A secondary message is the importance of companionship.”
What followed were nine one-paragraph submissions from those who had gone to see the film. Most of the paragraphs related a positive attitude toward the film. There were two, however, which were the most striking. One couple wrote, “We as parents need to be careful that we are not sending mixed messages to our children. Don’t do that or speak like that and yet we entertain ourselves with this kind of junk?” The couple then made a plea to the Christian community based on Ephesians 5. Finally, a sixteen-year-old saw the film and wrote, “This is one of the greatest movies of the year!” Later she adds this, “From the Christian perspective, the only thing that may offend is perhaps a misuse of the Lord’s name ...” So the taking of God’s name in vain is only mildly offensive? Well, it might be to many people, but God surely does not take it lightly.
Covenant families have many sounds in their homes. There are the shrieks of infants, the joyful shouts of toddlers, and the laughter of children and parents enjoying one another’s company. We also hear the sounds of Zion’s Psalms. Perhaps another sound we need to hear more often is the “Click” of the TV being turned off.