The 21st century is dominated by technological gadgetry that families of the mid-20th century could scarcely have imagined—cell phones, portable music and video players, laptop computers and much more.
But technology is a double-edged sword. It can and does help to improve man’s lot by making life much easier, yet at the same time it can undermine the human values that promote good mental and physical health.
A good example of this is television. It can be both a benefit and a curse. It can benefit us when teaching people how to improve their lives. It is a curse when it advocates, subtly or openly, the basest of human behaviors. Producers of such debilitating programs provide such prurient entertainment to get rich quick; they prefer gold over the golden rule.
Dr. Phil McGraw, the famous television-show psychologist, advises: “Limit television-viewing time to ninety minutes a day for preschoolers and two hours a day for older children, since kids who watch a lot of TV suffer academically. However, make allowances for television content that is positive and educational” ( Family First, 2004, p. 123).
Michael Medved, longtime film critic and author of several books on media and culture, laments that there seems to be no stopping the downward spiral of popular entertainment. He observes that “Hollywood ignores the concerns of the overwhelming majority of the American people who worry over the destructive messages so frequently featured in today’s movies, television, and popular music” ( Hollywood vs. America , 1992, p. 4).
Even as far back as some 16 years ago, an “Associated Press/Media General poll showed that 82 percent of a scientifically selected sample felt that movies contained too much violence; 80 percent found too much profanity; and 72 percent complained of too much nudity. By a ratio of more than three to one, the respondents believed that ‘overall quality’ of movies had been ‘getting worse’ as opposed to ‘getting better’ ” (ibid.). Sadly, they’ve gone only downhill since.
Famous comedian, author and television-talk-show host Steve Allen wrote an outstanding book on the degradation of our culture and our common values. Its cover shows a young boy watching television. Captions on the cover indicate the messages television is teaching him: “Teen sex is okay,” “Parents are stupid,” “Violence doesn’t hurt,” “Profanity is cool,” and “Morality doesn’t matter.” The very title of Mr. Allen’s book shouts a warning to all parents: Vulgarians at the Gate: Trash TV and Raunch Radio.
So before you turn on the TV, read books like these. You and I are responsible for what goes into our children’s heads and hearts. It’s time to take control of your family’s educational diet before entertainment media spiritually and morally starve your children on an immoral and amoral smorgasbord. GN