Several years ago I spoke to a group of parents and their teenage children in Little Rock, Arkansas about the allure of electronic media. I ended the presentation with a challenge that I knew very few would accept. I challenged everyone in the audience to go without any electronic media being used for entertainment for seven days. In other words turn off anything with an off button including television, radio, recorded music, video games, movies etc. They were also challenged to spend the week talking with each other and participating in family activities and to record their experiences.
I wish I had had a movie camera to capture the reactions of the audience members as the challenge was made. Most of the parents and youth had a look that said that they would not accept that challenge for any amount of money. As expected, most were unwilling to accept and follow through with the challenge. However, I did Here is the experience of one of the mothers who accepted the challenge:
Day 1: "I made the commitment! After the kids left for school it was like death! No noise, except the neighbor’s chickens clucking. I can do this. Its' not the TV shows, its' just that I need the noise. (right) When withdrawal hit, I went to Wal-Mart. That killed two hours. An amazing thing happened after the kids were home. Teenage daughter cleaned her room. She's very irritable without the stereo. Our 12 year-old son discovered Readers Digest was interesting and read it until bed time and took it to bus stop on day two.
Day 2: "Temptation set in about 1:30. I turned the TV on. Since I really just need the noise, I turned it to channel 2 (Educational) - boring. After 5 min. decided that this was the wrong noise (not as interesting as the game shows). Turned off TV and studied for a class I had to teach. It's much too quiet. Jig saw puzzle, and another trip to Wal-Mart. Kids went to church except 9 year-old. We read the whole friend and just talked.
Day 3: Slept in. Had company for 2 1/2 hours. Finished 500 piece puzzle. Cleaned whole house. Fed visitors. Did some laundry just to hear the noise. Kids went to bed early after good talks. They have already stopped complaining about no TV. 9 pm caught teenage son with stereo headphones on.
Day 4: This is a piece of cake. I was gone all day and don't have radio in the car.
Day 5: I fell completely off the wagon today, but didn't tell the family.
Day 6: I did aerobics for 4 days this week.
Day 7: We held a family meeting and have dramatically cut down on our hours of TV and dramatically increased the amount of time we spent communicating with one another. Thanks for this experience.
It will be difficult to accomplish much in life if we spend too much time with media.
Electronic media has the characteristics of being addictive.
When we limit electronic media meaningful communication often increases.
Positive activities often replace the time spent with electronic media.
Huge amounts of time are wasted by too much involvement with media.
Limit your involvement with electronic media and watch how much you accomplish with the extra hours save.