‘DON’T let the TV control you’ is an oft-heard phrase in many homes not necessarily Christian. Parents who are at work are worried sick about what their at-home children are watching on TV. Since, the decision to switch from one channel that airs a family drama to another channel that spews out mindless vulgarity or violence is made at the blip of the remote button, parents’ fears are not entirely misplaced. The problem is not necessarily Christian, let me repeat at the danger of sounding repetitive. Every right-thinking parent would (and should) be worried about what their children watch on TV.
Some people tend to think that if their preschooler or preteen watches only cartoon channels, they are safer than the rest who are exposed to all trash on TV. You would be shocked to know that cartoon channels are no better than say reality TV shows, sitcoms or music videos. In 1992, US magazine TV Guide commissioned a study of a typical 18-hour TV broadcast day to determine levels of violence. The networks and the more popular cable channels were monitored for ‘purposeful, overt, deliberate behavior involving physical force or weapons against other individuals.’ Of the total 1,846 acts of violence recorded, over 25% of violence (or 471 acts of violence) was viewed on cartoons. Promos for films (265) and movies (221) came a distant second and third.
The scenario is really alarming if you look at a few more facts closely. The New Scientist magazine in a 2007 article said that by the time the average US child starts elementary school, he or she will have seen ‘8,000 murders and 100,00 acts of violence on TV.’
A similar finding by American Medical Association came up with a more startling revelation. In homes that had premium cable channels or a VCR or a DVD player, “children typically witness 32,000 murders and 40,000 attempted murders by the time they reach the age of 18,” the AMA study said. I don’t think the situation is any better in India.
In this month’s cover story, our reporter Munni Banerjee examines the issue at hand closely. She has identified 9 reasons why Indian television programs lack Christian values. Two eminent Christians Rev. C D Jebasingh, founder of Galilean International Films and Television Services, and Abraham Mathai, general secretary of the All India Christian Council, have talked about their experience and offered some solutions.
Editor’s Blog: Why does so much trash exist on our TV channels?
AICC general secretary Abraham Mathai on Indian TV channels
Galilean founder C D Jebasingh on why we must teach church on investing in media