By Clayton Thomas
The television in today's home can mean so many things. For some, it's a status symbol. For others, it's instant babysitting when a parent needs a break. Most of us also wouldn't dispute the entertainment value. But, there's a hidden consequence not talked about often which may have you think twice before your child watches the next latest greatest show.
The hidden secret behind watching television is it slowly keeps us from building our character. William Shakespeare once said, "All the world's a stage and all the people are merely players." But, he said it at a time before the television was invented. Nowadays, people don't have to be players on a stage. All they have to do is turn on a television and watch other players at work. Reality TV anyone?
But what does that have to do with building our character? Two of the ways people build character is the process of cleaning up the "messes" in their lives and building on the positive things. Keep in mind; I am using the term "messes" pretty loosely. This could be as simple as a child cleaning a mess at a dinner table to an adult working on their marriage (which can get awfully messy). Obviously, there are a lot of "messes" in between. Each time we clean one of life's little messes; we are slowly building our character. Think about someone you know who had great character. Next- think about the messes in his/her life that had to be overcome. Most successful people we know have remarkable stories.
Now, let's get back to the television. When a child (or anyone else) watches television, it serves as an escape to the things in life which need our attention (i.e.- a child's homework, playing with friends, family bonding time, a hobby which could be a full time business if we only had the time). In moderation, watching television can be healthy to a certain degree. But, when the time watching television goes unchecked, the neglected messes left unattended can multiply or cause undue stress once the television is turned off. That's because once the television has been turned off, reality kicks back in although precious time has been lost. An easy example of this would be a child who has a test the next day but only started studying after watching Jersey Shore on M.T.V.
Building character takes time, patience, and desire. In essence, when children watch a lot of television, those three things are taken away. All of us have 24 hours in day and 7 days in a week. It's up to us as to what to do with the time. I also feel parents have a responsibility to keep their child on track. Sometimes that means taking the remote control and pressing the on/off button. There's a reason we call people who watch a lot of television "couch potatoes." It's not an endearing term.
The best advice I can give to parents is this. Chart how much time television is taking from the life of your child for a day/week. Decide how much of that time was excessive, then determine if the time could have been spent doing something more worthwhile. I can pretty well guarantee you if you chart this correctly, the results will be surprising.
I appreciate all of you who have stopped by to read my article. If you like it, please feel free to let me know with your comments. Feel free to pass it along to others as well. I wish nothing but the best for you and your family!
Clayton Paul Thomas is the author of Tantrums, Troubles, and Treasures. As a former houseparent at an orphanage and a former elementary school teacher, Thomas has worked with over 400 children ranging from birth to 15. He provides practical solutions to complex problems. His blog can be followed at http://www.claytonpaulthomas.com. Thomas is married and the father of two children. Permission granted for use on DrLaura.com