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Distracted by Television
Mom with a View

Distracted by Television

Turn off the TV and relate to your spouse.


Most families in America have read about the dangers of exposing our children to (too much) television -- the bad values, the passivity, the obesity.

There seem to be fewer articles discussing the damage television watching can do to a marriage -- the bad values, the passivity, the obesity...

When escape takes up more of our time and energy than reality, we're in trouble.

Television provides a distraction -- a distraction from work-related aggravation, a distraction from struggles with our children, a distraction from unfulfilled dreams, a distraction from our spouses. Instead of discussion over the dinner table, we turn on the TV. Instead of an after-dinner walk and catch-up, we turn on the TV. Instead of sharing quiet time and important thoughts, we turn on the TV. And instead of late night intimacy, we also turn on the TV. Clicking the remote is both a literal and figurative expression.

This isn't about the confusing messages or values (or lack thereof) of the medium. The noise, the fantasy, the distraction alone tears us apart.

Sure it's easier to turn on the television than to engage with a spouse. But television is cold comfort when your wife decides she's had enough. Even ESPN won't do it then. It's limited company when your husband throws in the towel. And nothing they do on "Days of Our Lives" can compensate.

Yes, there are educational shows. Yes, there are powerful moments. There may even be programs that couples can watch together and connect through the shared experience.

But those are the rarer moments. Television is meant to be an escape. But when escape takes up more of our time and energy than reality, we're in trouble. When watching other people's marriages takes precedence over living our own, something is lost. Let's turn the TV off before it's too late to get it back.

May 27, 2006

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Visitor Comments: 6

(6) Anna, October 20, 2006 11:10 PM

TV's own energy

I once heard Oprah say that television brings its own energy into a room, and this is quite true. You can't ignore that moving picture as you can a radio or music.

Television is a good servant and a bad master (like fire !). I like to see things that I will never see in real life, but find that my attention span for television is incredibly limited. I do like Cold Case & SVU and am grateful to the US for creating such good shows. Most comedies now I find feeble & childish & even documantaries, from whatever country, seem to be getting more & more 'dumbed down', assuming that the viewers have IQs in single figures and need to have everything explained in words of one syllable !

There are times when television is an escape, like when you have a stinking cold & can't be bothered reading (I have to be half dead before I won't read). And when I had a broken foot & was on my own all day, I did get desperate enough to watch some daytime shows. Hope I'm never that desperate again .

Many, or even most, nights ours goes off after the news. There are so many wonderful books out there,music to listen to and sites like this to write to; who needs television ? I could easily live without it & have done in the past-though I do like to actually SEE the news. For this reason, our 'big' television is 14 inches & I have 2 tiny (5 in) ones-black & white-in bedroom & kitchen.

I hate it when I go somewhere & the television stays on, even on mute. The only time when I would do this is in some crisis like 9/11 ( we were having dinner with friends & the set was on most of the evening) or the tsunami.

A television free evening is very liberating. I guess it's like Coke; I really like Coke but don't want it all the time (Coke is one of the US's greatest gifts to the rest of us; thank you !) a little is nice, but too much is, er, too much.

(5) Daniela, May 29, 2006 12:00 AM

television is not meant to be an escape

Yes there are (very very very very few) interesting programs, but even them can not be an escape. And the video recorder exists exactly for this reason and to this purpose. The interesting programs (please tell me when and where do they air them!!!!) belong to the dvd reader in starbucks or on the subway, or perhaps for the late night / early morning when our spouse is hard asleep and we are wide awake. They are not meant to distance us from our spouse, our children, or anyone else.

(4) Anonymous, May 29, 2006 12:00 AM

While many people are aware of the damage too much TV can do to kids they feel it's ok for parents/adults. TV diminishes real life!

(3) Anonymous, May 29, 2006 12:00 AM

This has been a timely mesage.

Thank you so much for the article. My spouse and I have no time to talk, because a TV is his companion. After work, he stays in the room watching TV. I always feel very frustrated! Unfortunately, he cannot even take such articles important! Pray for me.

(2) glynis, May 28, 2006 12:00 AM

Greetings, thank you so much for this article. I have a son who is addicted to television, I try to turn it off all the time, if I didn't the tv would be on all the time, until the "snow" picture of the early morning. We fight about this but I know that these messages and the weird blue light are not good for him. When my son was young we had no television until he was in about 10 years old, it was a treat for us to see programming, now, well, I pray that Hashem will help him to enjoy life more, to have more happiness and less video. I am a single mom and I never used the tv as a babysitter when my son was little, but he became tv addicted anyway. I pray that Hashem will give my son insight into the truly damaging aspects of this. Thank you for your article, Glynis Douglass

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