Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Fighting television addiction - Part 6 - The Family

In an experiment conducted a few years ago 25 families (all with young children) were asked to go without television for 1 month.

Not all of them managed but the ones that did reported that after the initial adjustment (withdrawal from television addiction):

  • Their home felt more peaceful and relaxed.

  • Children were more helpful with chores.

  • Interaction between children improved.

  • Children grew more interested in puzzles, crafts, arts, reading, and other activities.

  • Adults found more spare time to devote to productive activities.

  • Mealtimes were more enjoyable and everyone felt healthier.

  • Overall family interaction and relationships improved drastically.

  • Everyone had more free time to work or play or relax.

However, here is the kicker.

When the 1-month was over even the families that reported the above benefits went back to television.

I think that conclusively establishes the parallel between a drug addict and a television addict. Despite enjoying good health in a rehabilitation center the drug addict will relapse when let loose in the real world.

The problem is that the kids will begin to throw tantrums because they cannot cope with withdrawal and the adults are glad to turn on the television just to get the children to leave them alone for a while. After a while the adults will go into "Ok, now it's MY turn," mode and start watching the television.

Most people, when questioned, are ready to admit that the television is in control and not the viewer.

Studies show that the average family (in separate doses) watches around 8 hours of television per day and that television has become THE single most time consuming activity among children. It is also concluded that after money the second biggest obstacle to family harmony is television addiction. Sex, alas, comes a dismal third.

Skepticism to Television Addiction
Some people are not convinced that television is all that dangerous.

When informed that a human being will have watched 15,000 hours (on average) of television before the age of 17 out of which 5,000 hours were watched before attending kindergarten, these people simply shrug and say, "So what?"

The California Department of Education conducted a study correlating the amount of television viewing and scholastic achievement across half-a-million school children.

Their conclusion: regardless of the child's social and economic background, study habits, lifestyle, and IQ, higher time spent watching television was directly proportional to lower test scores.

Television addiction replaces the playtime of children. It is a passive and antisocial activity that replaces an active and social childhood.

Playing is a major part of childhood because children are learning social skills along with developing their imagination and intellect.

Playing with other children enhances social skills, team building, support, mutual reliance, and respect for others.

Playing alone teaches the child the value of leisure, the strength of independence, and the ability to self-entertain and not give in to boredom (a state that often leads them to drugs and alcohol).

In one sweep television takes all that away and replaces it with a hypnotic trance like state that stunts the child's intellect, imagination, creativity, social skills, and self-reliance.

Every moment spent watching television is a moment the child should be using to develop into a stable human being that is equally comfortable when alone as he or she is when in company.

Parental interaction is also crucial to the child's development. Using television time to come physically together and pointless if there is no interaction between child and parent or all interaction is centered on the television.

A child has to learn how a family works, how individuals live together, how adults solve problems, and so on. All the time that should be going towards this is now dedicated to television.

Many families assume they are interacting by watching television together. Sadly, television watching is a passive activity. The viewer's brain effectively shuts down when watching television. The togetherness is only physical with no intellectual or emotional interaction between family members. You might as well sit in a busload of strangers and assume they are all family members for how much you interact with them.

Every generation of television addicts follows the same pattern.
  • The television begins as an adult's addiction.

  • Then the television becomes a babysitter to keep the children occupied until adults finish their chores.

  • The children are numbed through viewing, as they do not have sufficient self-control to cope with the anesthetizing effect of television.

  • The children are soon addicted and their development is badly affected.

  • Eventually it is impossible to separate the children and television. The link between addict and drug becomes permanent.

  • Parents meanwhile retreat from active child rearing as they too suffer from the same problem from their childhood.

  • This leads to family breakdown that could have been avoided if the children had not been exposed to a known addictive substance to begin with.
The evidence of television addiction for adults and children is the same as it is for any addict and his or her substance of choice.

Take away that substance and their lives are reduced to uncontrollable chaos.

The children will cry, lose temper, throw tantrums, sulk, go into depression, fight with one another, cause trouble in school, not be able to focus on daily tasks . . . the list is endless.

The adults will feel stressed, unable to handle free time, feel an uncontrollable urge to fondle the remote control, be restless, and suffer from other withdrawal symptoms.

The adults will admit that most of what they watch is worthless in that it neither entertains nor informs, it is watched through sheer helplessness of an addict.

What to do
Those families that are serious about maintaining harmony and saving their kids from this corruption take the best, and most drastic, step. They simply get rid of the television.

In other words, they are the type of addict with the guts to go cold turkey after realizing the dangers of addiction.

However, it is not required that you make this ultimate sacrifice as long as you can show and enforce some discipline in your viewing habits.

The important part is that ALL adults must follow the same rules about television watching if the children are expected to follow. There are no exceptions when dealing with addiction. If one adult snorts coke in the family then I leave it to your imagination where a child addict will look for his or her next fix.
  • Monday to Friday
    This is your first rule. No television, this means the damn thing should not be powered, unplug it and put it in storage, from Sunday night to Saturday morning. Even if the school assigns work that requires television you will not use it. This controls random viewing. Children KNOW when and what they get to watch. They do not bolt down their dinner, or worse, eat in front of the television. They are also under no pressure to finish their homework before some show begins (they of course will think the adults have all gone crazy).

  • There should be no concessions, exceptions, "Okay, but just this once" type of situations. Long holidays do not mean you can do drugs. If you do something like that then all the hard work in months past will be wasted in a single day.

  • Daily Limits do not work. Trying to limit viewing to 1 or 2 hours per day never works. Studies show that these rules are the easiest to violate. For a rule to work the television must be inoperable. That is why the "in storage from Sunday night to Saturday morning" rule works better than daily restriction.
For some families the addiction is so severe that they hesitate from establishing rules, following such rules is way beyond their capacities and capabilities. These are addicts that cannot be cured through therapy but need their stomachs pumped. In other words, they need some really tough treatment.

Some doctors are beginning to recommend the following for such hardcore television addicts.
  • Use an old television with poor reception.

  • Do not keep the television in the living room. Move it to the basement that has no heating or air-conditioning.

  • Do not keep more than one television.

  • Do not give separate televisions to children.

  • Enroll in some classes that help build confidence and regain self-control.
Beware of being a hypocrite. Lecturing and scolding your children on the ills of television or just asking them to cut down on viewing while following no such restrictions yourself will defeat you in this fight against addiction.

Some people argue that adults do lots of things that children are not permitted. Quite true, but do you have sex in front of your children? If you have smoked marijuana then would you do it in front of your children? Do you want them to turn into sex maniacs and pot smokers just so that you can indulge in your pleasures because "I am an adult so I can do this but the kids should not"?

The first few days will be terrible because of withdrawal. Children will numbly sit and stare at the vacant spot where the television used to be, that is when they are not crying, arguing, wailing, sulking, and bugging you or pleading with you to get the root of all evil back because they miss their addiction.

As an adult you have to be planned for this. Do not expect children to just switch from television to reading or crafts on day one.

It will take time and hard work to get them interested and get their rusted and atrophied brains working again.

You have to teach them how they can entertain themselves and most importantly pay attention to their needs. Do not leave them to sulk it out.

In the end you will have saved them from ruin and kept your family together.

When you begin seeing improvement in your children and family life it is time to be really tough and vow to not bring the television back into your life and explain to your children to stay away from this scourge and pass on the same lesson to their own children.

This is your family and all its future generations. Do not piss it all away to a stupid addiction.
If you have not read Unplugging the Plug-In Drug (by Marie Winn) then I strongly recommend you do so.

In addition you must also read The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease.

Winn's book provides several insights into television addiction that are helpful for adults and children alike.

Trelease's book will help you in getting started with reading stories to your children. This book features 300 reviews of books that you can start with. It also has 1 chapter dedicated to television addiction and how to break free from it.

Both these books are ideal for facing another scientifically established menace that holds humanity in its grip. Television addiction is believed to be the biggest reason for decline in literary knowledge and learning levels (do not confuse this with education levels).

Television decreases the attention span while reading expands it. Television replaces imagination and creative thought while reading encourages growth and development of imagination and creativity.

5 comments:

-gautham- said...

lol!! i remember the TV ad in which the guy hwo doesn't have a TV is GK-butchered by his classmate who does... and kids can't escape from that ad!!

sweeti said...

oeps G10 I know Valentine is commercial Justfor the shops....yeah
He abt the Missingmeaning of ur last post U wrote in ur comment ..
Welll G10 ur right ...i did not get it...But U know i cant help it ..My brain is not working full speed nowadays ..Help me!!!!!
only 50% ..Do u have medicine???
TC and enjoy ur day...and try to Smile and dont watch tv U hear!!!!! LOL

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Alice Lee said...

television can be very damaging to people. Televisions should be thrown out. If you want to watch something, you should buy a dvd,, and it's better if it's educational.
television makes people unwise people and sometimes people need wisdom. There are also a lot of illuminati messages on television and maybe all or most of television is probably run by the illuminati. If people don't have a television, I think they can be able to focus better and be wiser . People will be forced to wash dishes and do laundry because there is nothing else to do hopefully too, and that will be better for the family. I think Television has ruined a lot of peoples lives.

Alice Lee said...

television can be very damaging to people. Televisions should be thrown out. If you want to watch something, you should buy a dvd,, and it's better if it's educational.
television makes people unwise people and sometimes people need wisdom. There are also a lot of illuminati messages on television and maybe all or most of television is probably run by the illuminati. If people don't have a television, I think they can be able to focus better and be wiser . People will be forced to wash dishes and do laundry because there is nothing else to do hopefully too, and that will be better for the family. I think Television has ruined a lot of peoples lives.