Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Leslie Basham: Would that all children were as discerning as little Tyler Thomas.

“Mom, I’m home!”

“Hi Honey. I’ll be down in a minute. Why don’t you watch some TV?”

“Okay.”

(television) “Fighting continues today for the seventh day in the Republic of. . .”

(television channel changes) “I can’t believe you bought drugs with our rent! What is going on with you?”

(television channel changes) “Will Ian discover Erica’s torrid affair with Brent? Daughters and Sons will continue after. . .”

“Mom, can we get a new TV? There’s nothing good on this one.”

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, July 25th. Here’s our host, Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: What percentage of children in America would you estimate have a TV in their bedroom? Do you think it’s 10%, 25%? Are you sitting down? We’re going to give you the answer in just a moment, but first, let me reintroduce our guest this week, Bob DeMoss. For those of you who are wondering, he is not my husband or my brother or my father or my son. He is my first cousin. Bob, welcome back to Revive Our Hearts.

Bob DeMoss: Great to be with you, Nancy.

Nancy: Thanks for being a part of our program this week. We’re talking about your book TV: the Great Escape. Why did you write the book, and what’s the basic challenge of the book?

Bob: Well, I was just convicted that television has such a negative impact on the people of faith, among believers, on myself, on my own family, that I just was convicted that we really need to challenge believers to consider, just consider, going TV-free for a month.

Just let that open up a window of air into your home, where God’s Spirit can descend in and do some house-cleaning, do some convicting without competing with the television. So when you see what’s happening on television, you start to say, “You know what? This should have no place in my home.” You can’t see that oftentimes because you’re too close. But once you step away from that, you start to say, “Man, we’ve drifted too far down the stream.”

Nancy: We’ve gotten desensitized.

Bob: That’s why the TV-Free 30-Day Challenge, you pick the month. You go no TV—not in your home, not anywhere, and you instead substitute all kinds of real-life activities. That’s the goal and the purpose.

Nancy: So you threw out this challenge several years ago for the first time and had a huge response to it. And really a lot of those stories are what you tell in this book. What kind of response did you get from people who took that challenge?

Bob: Well, there’s one family in particular that I had a chance to speak with personally on a number of occasions, Ron and Michelle from Dallas, Texas. I said, “Guys, would you recommend this to anybody?” And they said, “Bob, never, unless, of course, they want to develop a deeper relationship with God, their spouse, their children, and their friends.

Nancy: This is the 30-day challenge we’re issuing to our listeners this week—30-day TV fast. We’ve challenged our listeners lots of times to take 30 days to spend some time alone with the Lord each day in the Word and in prayer, and I think one of the biggest reasons people aren’t really spiritually hungry and don’t/can’t find the time for devotional life is because we’re whittling away so many hours in front of the television.

Now we want to talk today particularly about the influence of television on children.

Bob: One of the things the Keiser Family Foundation did in Philadelphia—they surveyed three thousand children. They found, of the children 2 to 16, I think it was, 64% had a television in their bedroom. That’s more than one out of two.

Nancy: That is mind-boggling.

Bob: Yes, sent to bed every night with the drone of the television. Then I was reading what the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association both said. They both said, “We recommend no TV viewing under the age of two.” Why? Because it damages the formation of the development of the minds of children.

Because, Nancy, at that age they need to be exploring, touching, tasting, lifting, crawling. You’ve got to be able to experience life. Well, TV shuts them down, where they just stare. That’s one of the concerns. Well, when those two findings came out by the AMA and the AAP, the nation sort of yawned and said, “There’s no way we’re going to turn off our TVs for ages zero to two. That’s our primary babysitter.”

So we’re damaging kids. Then my next thought was, “Well, what is this doing to the rise in ADD in the culture? I had a suggestion or a thought a number of years ago that perhaps there’s some correlation between TV viewing and the high increase, the sharp increase, in ADD.

Sure enough, a study came out in the spring of ’04 where the researchers are finding that for every hour preschoolers watched TV each day, it boosts their chances by ten percent of developing attention deficit disorder later in life.

Nancy: You know, that sounds amazing. But if you think about it, the whole industry of TV for babies—Disney and Sesame Street and Baby Einstein and some of these products—have things moving so quickly, with a lot of distraction, a lot of fast and bright and colorful images in front of children’s eyes.

They’re saying it actually handicaps their capacity to concentrate. The connection there, I hope people got what you just read there, that for every hour that the preschooler is watching television, they increase by ten percent their chances of developing ADD by the age of seven.

Bob: See, what’s happening is their nervous systems are being shot. There’s sort of a permanent rewiring of a developing brain of a child at that age that says the images are so frenetic and so fast-paced, so colorful, changing every one to three seconds, or less, especially if you go into MTV.

They’re the master of the millisecond in terms of the flashing of images. You know, their retinas are on overload. So it’s no wonder why the kids have a hard time focusing, staring at the wings of a butterfly as it slowly opens and closes. That’s boring.

Nancy: It’s not just the attention thing. What about the link, Bob, that some of these studies are showing to violence and aggressive behavior in children?

Bob: You also find these studies that deal with extended fright syndrome, which means when a child at a very young age watches scary media, as another way to call it, and it could be anything from Scooby Doo to a slasher movie or the horror movies that are so popular.

Nancy: You’ve got to say probably not many three-year-olds are watching slasher movies.

Bob: Well, but here’s what happens. Big brother’s watching it in his bedroom or in the living room, and junior wanders into the room. Or, Nancy, I’m telling you, there are babysitters—I’ve gotten letters from parents who said, “My six-year-old, my four-year-old was having nightmares, and it turns out when we went out to dinner, the babysitter sat junior on the sofa next to them and took a video out of their backpack and put it in the VCR and watched Friday the Thirteenth or Scream or one of the horror movies, and my son was having nightmares.

We didn’t know what was going on—because they don’t prescreen the babysitter. That’s how you get that younger child exposed to the fright media.

Well, what ends up happening is 20 years later is the study by two Michigan researchers at the University of Michigan, who found that 20 years later, people who saw fright media at a young age, still had a fear of going in the ocean because they saw the movie Jaws. Or they wouldn’t want to fly because they saw the movie Airplane. Or they wouldn’t take a shower because they saw Psycho. So you find that there’s this lingering effect.

Nancy: In the area of fright and also in the area of violence. You sent me a study that showed (a 15-year study) showing that children who’d grown up in the 70s, watching what they called—these researchers called—extremely violent shows, such as Starsky and Hutch (remember that—six million dollar man?) Roadrunner cartoons—that of those children who were exposed to those kinds of TV programs between the ages of six and nine—they were twice as likely as other young men (this was young males) to push, grab, or shove their spouses when they got into their 20s. They were three times as likely to be convicted of criminal behavior by the time they were in their early 20s.

Girls—you didn’t used to think of that as affecting girls in the same way, but girls who grew up in that, watching those kinds of programs, when they became adults they were more than four times as likely as other young women to have punched, beaten, or choked another adult, more than twice as likely to have thrown something at their spouse.

Now we’ve got moms listening who are saying, “I’m not trying to raise a criminal or a spouse-abuser or somebody who’s going to wreck their marriage or throw things at people.” I don’t think we’re really stopping to count the cost, not just in evidences that come out today, but in the long-term results.

Bob: Well, I don’t think it’s an accident that we were commanded in Colossians three to "set our minds on things above, not on things on earth" (verse 2). Now, when we set our minds on the kind of steady stream of violent imagery, the kinds of images that come across of the rudeness, not even the violence necessarily, Nancy, or the scary kinds of media or whatever, but even just the rudeness. . .

Nancy: . . . coarse talk

Bob: Yes, coarse jesting—comedy channel, comedy central—the stuff you see on MTV. A child grows up, and they start having a smart mouth. Well, what are their models? So that’s why when we read Colossians 3:2 that talks about setting our minds on Christ, there is a reason—because He is what’s pure. He is the standard. He is our hope. It’s the old thing of “you are what you eat.” Well, in the same way, I believe it’s “you are who you model your life after.”

Nancy: "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”

Bob: There you go, yes.

Nancy: Well, I know we have a lot of moms, grand-moms, and some dads listening as well, who are concerned about their children having a heart for the Lord. I want to just challenge you, as a woman who grew up in a home where there was no television—now, I’m not saying God will lead your family that way, but I’m saying now, as I’m in my mid-40s, that I am reaping in my life so many incredible benefits and blessings of parents who made a tough choice.

We were considered strange, odd. We didn’t know what kids were talking about when we got to school and they had just seen the latest whatever advertised or the latest program. We sometimes felt really out of it.

But now, as adults, we’re thanking the Lord for parents who loved us and loved the Lord and His kingdom enough to say, “We’re not going to let this culture press us into its mold.”

You can do that for your children, by God’s grace. A good place to start would be by ordering a copy of Bob DeMoss’s book, TV: the Great Escape and prayerfully consider taking this challenge to turn off the TV for 30 days.

I want to encourage you to try that. You’ve got nothing to lose and a whole lot, potentially, to gain—not only in the immediate, but potentially decades down the road for your children and your grandchildren and most importantly, for the sake of Christ and His kingdom.

Leslie: That’s right, Nancy. Again, the title of Bob DeMoss’s book is TV: The Great Escape. It’s actually part of the TV-Free Challeng Pack we’re making available to our listeners here on Revive Our Hearts for a gift of 20 dollars or more.

We’ll send you Bob’s book and two attractive TV-clings that you can place on your TV screen during the month of August. These were custom-made by Revive Our Hearts specifically for this TV-free month. They’ll help remind you and your family why you’re having so much fun as a family instead of parking yourselves in front of the cool, blue glow.

They’re not exactly stickers or static clings. They work kind of like Post-It notes. They’re available, along with Bob’s book. Just look for the TV-Free Challenge Pack when you contact us at www.ReviveOurHearts.com, or by calling 1-800-569-5959.

Don’t forget, you can also order this week’s programs on CD or download them for your iPod, or just listen online. The CD has the extended, full-length interviews. It’s all at our website. And it’s all very simple.

Thanks for listening today. We realize you could have used the time another way, and we don’t want to take it lightly.

Tomorrow Bob and Nancy continue their discussion of television and its effects on us. Don’t miss the next Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

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