During most of my childhood, our house had no television. The best decision my parents ever made was to throw out the TV when I was two. Instead of watching a screen, we read books, played outside, read books, went exploring, read books, climbed trees (and read more books).
Growing up in communist Romania, my husband didn’t have much access to TV either, and he has fond memories of an active childhood without it. So before our wedding, we agreed that we were not buying a television for our home. We wanted a household focused on Jesus, on people, and on real life.
That worked blissfully, until the World Cup rolled around later that year. An avid soccer fan, my husband wanted to follow the news, and this was before the days of home Internet and smartphones. The only way to watch was to get a TV. So we found an affordable sale and brought the World Cup home.
The problem? Once the little black box was in the house, it was always on. Wake up; eat breakfast while watching the news. Home from class? Grab the remote “to see if anything interesting is on.” No homework? One show leads to another, and suddenly it’s past 11 p.m.
A few weeks later we were squabbling about some little nonsense, and we suddenly had an epiphany. Before bringing home the TV, we rarely disagreed and our newlywed home had been a place of happy harmony. Now we were bickering over ridiculous little things, tired from getting to bed late, waking up too late for quiet time with God, and just generally tense and ill at ease.
It took us a bit to pinpoint that this tension had started building right when the TV entered our home. But then it all clicked—this new peacelessness was directly related to the time we spent catatonic before the screen. We weren’t chatting together anymore, or exercising as much, or reading great books—we were just watching TV.
So we took a cue from the generation before us and threw out our TV.
Within a week, life was back to happy harmony. We were sleeping better, waking earlier, and enjoying each other’s company again.
Now that we have little children, we have a new appreciation for our TV-empty childhoods. We’ve made a conscious, intentional choice to provide them with activities that don’t revolve around a screen. These days, we still don’t watch regular TV in our house. If we need something, we find it online or play a DVD. But there’s no television playing in the background. Ever.
I’m not saying that every single program on TV is bad. But here’s the thing: when you want to serve God wholeheartedly, it’s awfully hard to control something like electronic media if it’s playing all the time in your home. It’s like inviting the devil into your living room—but pretending he’s not there. There’s so much junk available at the click of a button that it’s almost impossible to filter it all out.
For that matter, the devil can be invited into our homes in other ways too. Such as unfettered access to the Internet through phones, tablets, and computers. Or through video games filled with violence, vulgarity, and competitive indulgence.
It’s not my place to dictate what your family should do regarding electronic media. But I’m challenging you to reassess, to really take a Spirit-driven look at the role that media plays in your life and in the entertainment of your children. Have you asked God lately whether you need to clean out your family’s media?
Have you really, truly unplugged every portal for evil that the devil wants to use to shatter your home? If not, why not have a conversation with Jesus and see what He has to say about it?