- Back To
School With No TV
- By Barrington H. Brennen, August 17, 2005
Only a few more days and the school bells will
be ringing. Students from kindergarten to Grade 12 will fill the classrooms
ready to learn again. Really! Would they really be ready and anxious to
learn? Sad to say, a great number would not be ready nor anxious to learn.
Why? Because they would have one serious roadblock to responsive
learning--the television. For more than ten weeks far too many vacationing
students would have become intellectually lazy, vocabulary-deprived, and
imaginatively-stunned, simply because of the amount of time they would have
spent all summer long in front of the television.
TOO MANY HOURS
By the time summer school break is over, students who remained at home and
did not have part-time or full-time jobs, would have spent an average of ten
hours each day absorbing the information, good or bad, that was being
transmitted over the television waves. They would have accumulated more
hours in television viewing than their parents would have done in working
hours on their jobs. They would have watched about seventy hours a week and
more than seven hundred hours during the entire summer break. In some homes,
the television is never turned off, thus the sponge-like , inquisitive minds
would have been bombarded by about 1500 hours of violent, seductive, and
sexual material. Some children are known to watch television for nearly 24
hours non-stop at least three times a week, only pausing to eat, answering
the phone, or talking to friends. In contrast, their hard-working parents
would have exhausted just about five hundred working hours during the entire
summer period. If children were getting paid per hour for watching
television, they would be financially independent before leaving high
TOO LITTLE SLEEP
What is also obvious is that these hooked-on-television children spend very
little hours gaining meaningful rest and sleep at the most appropriate
times. In many homes, school-aged children stay up until the wee hours of
the morning watching television. They fall asleep tired and drained, only to
be awakened by another dosage of TV stimulation.
Parents must be reminded that school-aged children need an average of eight
to twelve hours of sleep each day to grow healthy minds and bodies. I wonder
how many get that during the regular school year! Research studies have
shown that today’s teenagers are the most sleep deprived of all generations
before. Why? Because of the time they spend in front of the television.
Psychologist, Sarah Ledoux, in her article, “The Effects of Sleep
Deprivation on Brain and Behavior,” states that “Sleep is needed to
regenerate certain parts of the body, especially the brain, so that it may
continue to function optimally. After periods of extended wakefulness or
reduced sleep neurons may begin to malfunction, visibly affecting a person's
behavior. . . Without sleep our brains deteriorate, and if the argument that
brain equals behavior is true, then our behavior will also suffer
accordingly.” Now we know. Our children’s brains are deteriorating for lack
of sleep and at the same time are overdosed on negative, addictive
information gained from hours of television viewing.
Kindergarten- to primary-age students need at least ten to fifteen hours of
sleep each night, even during the summer months. This is why they take naps
during the daytime. Teenagers can survive with eight to ten hours of sleep
each day. Unfortunately, they are all only getting three to six hours of
sleep a day. This kind of television addiction and sleep-deprived lifestyle
lowers the immune system, numbs the senses, and creates non-responsive
learners out of our children. No wonder so many are not interested in
academic studies. They have become non-responsive learners.
Although parents may extend the television time during holiday periods,
there should still be limits. It should not be a free-for-all, anything goes
WHO ARE THE PARENTS?
Who are the parents in your home? Are they Mr. and Mrs. Toshiba, Samsung,
RCA, Hitachi, Sharp, or Zenith, Television sets? Are they the
always-demanding, lazy, mom-I-want-to-watch-some-more-TV dependants in your
home? Or are you the parents?
Here is a short quiz to help you find out who are the parents in your
- Who always washes the dishes each day
while the children are glued in front of the television set
- Who sets the time for the children to go
- Who sets the time to eat?
- Who stays up very late each night?
- Who always makes up the children bed each
- Who always picks up clothing off the
- Who always clears the dining room or
coffee table after eating?
- Who always sweeps the popcorn off the
floor while others are watching a spicy movie?
- Who gets sore throat from talking all day?
- Who first says “goodnight” and goes to
If a parent answered affirmatively to at least
five of these questions, then the child is the “parent” in that home. Who
should be the parent in the home? Isn’t it obvious! I can hear you say: “The
parents are the individuals who provided the egg and sperm and a protective
dwelling for the offsprings to live.” Who said that the provision of
reproductive materials makes one a parent by default? The truth is the right
to parent a child is not only gained through biological happenstance or
legislative ruling, but it is obtained through dynamic, responsive, loving
HOW TO TAKE OVER THE HOME AGAIN
How can parents regain control of their homes again? First of all, parents
would not be successful if they plan a “military coup.” If this happens,
there will be war in the house. The military generals will pull out their
artillery of overbearing behavior, offensive language, and maybe physical
confrontation. Parents must take over in a loving, but authoritative way.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Parents, before talking with the children,
sit down together (mom and dad) and agree on principles, guidelines, and
rules for the home that will involve adults and children. If you are a
single parent with no other parent involved, make sure you also do this
exercise by yourself. If you are divorced or a never-married single, and
the other parent is actively involved in the children’s lives, meet
together and agree on these rules so both households will be governed
the same way. These guidelines and rules should include, but not limited
to, schedule of daily household chores, sleep time, meal time,
television hours, curfew, and methods of discipline. Remember, these
guidelines and rules must be sensible and reasonable.
- Set a time (with no television on) with
your children to discuss your new home management guidelines. Make sure
you include them in the discussion. They can often have wise
suggestions. If they participate in the decision making process, they
would be more inclined to agree and go along.
- Instead of being a military leader who
just gives instructions and commands, become an integral part of this
new home government. Do not require your children to go to bed a certain
time while you remain up all night watching television. Place your name
on the schedule for household chores. Take the time to have fun with
your children. Make the time, at least once to twice a week to take them
out of the home to some kind of fun-time activity.
P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas; or call 242-326-1980, or email
Or visit the website www.soencouragement.org for this article and many more.