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Television Black-Out Time

Barrington H. Brennen, 1995, 1999, 2013 graphics added



Question: Dear Sir: Last week you talked about having television black-out time in your home. How can I implement this idea?


Answer: Last week we explored the relationship between television and sexual feelings in children. I said that our children are spending too much time watching television. I further argued that the television has left generations of our children illiterate, bored, and unimaginative. This brought into focus the concept of television black-out. I call on all who read this article to consider one of the following television black-out times. However, before you continue, take a piece of plan paper and write the words, "Television Black-Out Time," in bold letters and stick it on your TV screen for all to see (Click on graphics to enlarge and to print for your home)





1. Marriage Black-out. During the first year of marriage, it is ideal that a couple does not own a television. They should spend time interacting, bonding, spending time together, growing as friends and lovers. Television has a subtle way of attracting us from valuable functions and events in our lives. Sometimes we find excuses to watch a show because it is so educational or meaningful, but in reality it does not add anything to the healthy development of a young marriage. A solid foundation must be laid early in the marriage for intimacy, friendship, and sharing. The couple must enjoy spending time together before they spend time in front of the television.


2. Childhood Black-out. It is important for parents to understand the powerful effects of television on the minds of their developing children. Do not place your young infant in front of the television alone while you do something else. Ideally, it would be best to avoid having a television in the home. Because of the addictive, luring, and tempting nature of television, I am suggesting that parents with young children do not have television in the home during the first six to ten years of the childís life. Children also need to learn how to play and interact, communicate, and develop self-government. Great harm is done when, from birth, television becomes a normal part of a childís life. It does not matter how educational the television program is, whether it is Sesame Street or Barney. Parental involvement cannot be compared to any information or knowledge gained from television watching.


3. Crisis Black-Out. Often a parent may need to take away the privilege of television viewing because of disobedience or poor academic performance. Sometimes families would find it most helpful when there are serious family conflicts and crises to keep the television off. Often the television is used as "coverall." It gives one the feeling that the pain is over, but when the television is turned off the pain surfaces. Keeping the television off forces the family to deal with the situation.


4. Scheduled Black-out. As the family begins to grow, the parents may want to purchase a television. This is fine. However, the television should not be treated like the refrigerator - it is only useful when it is on. Television viewing in the Bahamas has increased in the last decade. In 1983 I conducted a survey of 380 students. The results showed that our children were watching an average of 2.3 hours of televison a day. As mentioned last week my latest research indicates that our children are now watching about 3.8 hours of television a day, and some up to 6 and 8 hours per day. It is imperative that parents take the bull by the horn and begin scheduling when and what their children will watch on television.



Here are some suggestions:


(1) Do not let your children watch television during the school week (Mondays - Thursdays). Let them focus on the school work and play. Neither should the parents sit and watch television in the presence of the children and expect the children to be disinterested. Remember that children learn best by example during these early years. My preliminary findings on the effects of television on the development of children indicates that the less television watched by children the better their social and academic performance. (Council for Family Research, 1998). Generally, children who do not watch television between Mondays and Thursdays are less aggressive, more sociable and cooperative in school.


(2) Preselect television programs that are uplifting for the children. Soap operas, violent pictures, pictures containing vulgar language or scenes, rude comedies, etc., should not be seen by our children.


(3) At no time should a parent allow a child to sit and watch televison for indefinite periods. One hour of television viewing for children less than ten years of age provides a heavy dosage of information to process. Secondly, the danger of your child developing an unreal view of the world and his or her surrounding is seriously increased. During holiday times our children spend too much time watching televison. Even teenagers and adults should not develop the habit of watching more than 2 to 3 hours of television without taking a significant break. Parents should decide that the television will be on only for specific hours at a time and only at certain times of the day. Again, it is better for your child to learn how to entertain him or herself than to be entertained.


(4) Do not have a television in your childís room. It is ideal that a home should have no more than 1 or 2 televisions. Make television viewing family time. Too many televisions in the home robs the family of valuable togetherness. It also creates a problem for problem management time and programing of the television.


(5) Do not train your child to fall asleep with the television on. This helps to create indiscipline behavior in the child. Secondly, while sleeping, unwanted subliminal messages may still enter the subconscious, leaving the child vulnerable to literally anything.



I am sure you are wondering when could a couple have a television if not during the first year of marriage and not during the early years of children. This brings up the very important point of family planning. Couples should not rush into having children. They should wait about 2 years before giving birth to their first child. This would give lots of time for growth and doing the things they want to do. They would have had at least one year of television viewing. When the child comes along, the parents would have developed a wise way to use the television, avoiding the childrenís involvement, or perhaps putting it away until later years. I encourage every Bahamian to reexamine the role television plays in his life. Declare in your home a television black-out week or month and spend time having fun together.


Back to School with no Television



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April 26, 2000, TAGnet/NetAserve / Network Solutions

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