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Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Thoughts on Video Games and TV

I just came across Al Mohler's commentary on video games, and it's an excellent piece. Please take a read. I believe this is a relevant topic because video games are rampant and it seems people of all ages are addicted to video games. I see it everywhere. What irks me the most is seeing it in the library. Libraries in my area usually have a nice big computer room, and I believe it is intended for educational purposes. Well, it certainly doesn't look like it. Every time I pass by the computer room, I can see a roomful of kids playing video games. It just seems very wrong to me. What gets to me even more is when I need to use the computer to look up the library catalog, there isn't one available. Most are taken by gamers.

Our family stays away from video games and we will do our best to keep it this way. We also don't have a TV. We probably sound so archaic and we might even be mistaken for a Luddite. My husband is super geeky so that negates the notion (he says he's a "pragmatic" neo-Luddite). The media is so influential that we are weary of its negative impact. We believe video games and TV watching are not a good use of one's time. The Bible tells us in Ephesians 5:15-16 to make the most of every opportunity.
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Gaming and TV watching don't seem to be consistent with this passage. We need to take heed of this exhortation seriously.

Another negative aspect of too much media is the need to be entertained constantly. Living in an entertainment oriented culture, immediate gratification is sought relentlessly. Well, what is wrong with that? It leads to a weakened or atrophied mind for one. When you need to do the harder task such as reading, it is very difficult. There are very few people who can think, write, and speak well. Why is that? Our culture doesn't promote this. We are constantly being entertained (see Neil Postman's excellent Amusing Ourselves To Death). We want the easier route, not the difficult one where it produces character.

Creativity has also suffered. TV and video games give us images and dictate how we think or imagine, there is no room for one's own imagination. We merely imitate what's projected to us.

Our culture has also resulted in increasing obesity, especially in kids. I was somewhat shocked, though I probably shouldn't be, to meet a chubby 8 yr old with hefty love handles recently. His body fat most likely exceeds the norm. I witnessed an all day video game marathon, and I believe this has a lot to do with his weight issue. Excessive gaming (or more accurately the physical inactivity this promotes) produces sedentary lifestyle which leads to obesity. Of course this little boy will have health issues down the road. In seeing this strong correlation, do I want this for my family? The answer is an emphatic NO.

There are countless examples of negative impact of TV and video games. We need to be responsible and do the wise thing. Turn off the TV, or better yet, toss it. Stop playing video games. Go out and play ball.

Lastly, lest anyone think that I believe TV watching is wrong, I need to explain that I don't think it is. It is fine to have a TV in the home but be careful of what you show your children and how long they sit in front of the tube. We parents need to weed out all the bad programs and be very selective. I believe the best thing is not watch the TV at all. That's my opinion.

Jane Healy's book Endangered Minds: Why Children Don't Think and What We Can Do About It is an excellent book about how TV viewing affects our brain functions. Don't live with an atrophied mind, give it a good exercise by reading some good books.