Ways to Take Control

“ONCE we turned it on, we watched whatever was on, one thing after another,” said Claudine. “We wouldn’t turn it off until we were ready to go to bed.” Some say: “I just can’t keep my eyes off it,” and others, “I don’t want to watch TV as much as I do, but I can’t help it.” Do you watch too much television? Are you concerned about the effect TV may be having on your family? Here are some suggestions that may help you to keep your viewing under control.

1. FIND OUT HOW MUCH YOU WATCH. “The shrewd one considers his steps,” says Proverbs 14:15. It is wise to analyze your viewing habits to see if changes should be made. Keep a diary for a week or so, writing down how much time you spend watching TV. You may also want to list the programs that you watched, what you learned, and how much you enjoyed those programs. The main thing, though, is to calculate how much time you spend in front of the TV. You may be surprised at what you find. Just knowing how much of your life is devoted to television may move you to make changes.

2. REDUCE YOUR VIEWING TIME. Try to do without TV for one day a week, a whole week, or a month. Instead, you may want to set limits on the time you watch each day. If you cut TV viewing by a half hour each day, you will have an extra 15 hours every month. Use that time in meaningful activities, such as pursuing spiritual interests, reading a good book, or spending time with family and friends. Studies have shown that people who watch a little TV enjoy it more than people who watch a lot of it.

One way to reduce TV viewing is to move the television out of the bedroom. Children who have a TV in their room spend nearly one and a half hours more watching TV than children who do not. Further, when a TV is in a youngster’s room, parents do not know what the child is watching. Parents and couples will find that they will have more time for each other if they move the TV out of their bedroom too. Some, by choice, have decided not to have a TV in the home at all.

 3. SCHEDULE WHAT YOU WATCH. There are, of course, many good programs to see. Rather than surfing through the channels or watching whatever comes on, check the listings in advance to select the programs you want to watch. Turn the TV on when the program you have chosen begins, and turn the TV off when it is over. Or instead of watching a program when it is aired, you may wish to record it for later viewing. That will make it possible to watch at a more convenient time and to fast-forward through commercials.

4. BE SELECTIVE. The Bible foretold that our time would be characterized by people who are “lovers of themselves, lovers of money, self-assuming, haughty, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, disloyal, having no natural affection, not open to any agreement, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, without love of goodness, betrayers, headstrong, puffed up with pride, [and] lovers of pleasures rather than lovers of God.” You will probably agree that many television characters are just like that. “From these,” the Bible admonishes, “turn away.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5) “Do not be misled,” we are warned, “bad associations spoil useful habits.”​—1 Corinthians 15:33.

Being selective involves self-control. Have you ever watched the first few minutes of a drama or movie and, though you realized it was unacceptable, watched the entire film just to find out what would happen next? Many have. However, if you have the willpower to turn off the TV so you can do something else, you will probably find that you don’t really care about what happened.

Long before the invention of television, the psalmist wrote: “I shall not set in front of my eyes any good-for-nothing thing.” (Psalm 101:3) What a good goal that is for us to keep in mind when choosing what we will watch! Some, like Claudine, have decided to get rid of their television. She said: “I never realized how much TV desensitized me. When I have opportunity to watch TV now, I am shocked by things that didn’t bother me before. I used to think that I was discerning in what I watched, but now I realize I wasn’t. When I watch good things, I enjoy them more.”

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Write down how much time you spend watching TV

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Replace TV viewing with more meaningful activity

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Do not hesitate to turn the TV off!