The “experts” have found something new to warn us about – second-hand TV. However, this time they might be on to something. USA Today reports that the American Academy of Pediatrics “for the first time included warnings about “secondhand television” in its guidelines for kids under age 2.” The article also includes the following quote:
“Parents are distracted by TV the same way preschoolers are,” says Lisa Guernsey, author of the 2007 book Into the Minds of Babes: How Screen Time Affects Children From Birth to Age Five. She says young children learn much more from face-to-face interaction than a screen.”
Ms. Guernsey has it right. The danger from ubiquitous TV is not just the content on the screen but also the lack of face-to-face interaction.
Face-to-face involvement is the way God instructs that we are to instruct our children. We learn best from instruction that is up-close and personal. Christ chose his disciples so that they would be with him. This has tremendous implications for parenting.
But, up close and personal is not the only way that we learn or are influenced. Like second-hand smoke that hangs in the air, the sounds and thoughts of second-hand television and videos also are drawn in by those who may not be the the immediate viewing audience. Children can hear bits and pieces of what is on the screen. They may assume that you, their parents, may actually approve of everything that they pick up via the second-hand route. Most people will allow things to be broadcast into their homes, that they would never accept from a guest. For example, if a guest began to swear or make jokes with sexual innuendos, you would ask him to stop. But if it is on the screen, well that’s just TV.
Second-hand media: don’t drop your guard. Remember, I am not advocating censorship or bans on television. What I am advocating is that you be on your guard and carefully shepherd the hearts of your children. Be up close and personal as Deuteronomy 6 directs. If that means less TV and less second-hand viewing, well, that’s not a bad thing at all.