TV—A Thief of Time?
IF SOMEONE offered you a million dollars to give up television for the rest of your life, would you do so? Some years ago 1 in 4 Americans surveyed said that they would not. Another survey asked men what they wanted most. The majority said that they desired peace and happiness. But this came second on their wish list. What they wanted first in life was a big-screen television!
Television is immensely popular throughout the world. Back in 1931, when television was in its infancy, the chairman of the Radio Corporation of America said: “The potential audience of television in its ultimate development may reasonably be expected to be limited only by the population of the earth itself.” Those words may have sounded far-fetched at the time, but they do not today. The number of televisions worldwide is estimated to stand at 1.5 billion, with many more viewers. Love it or hate it, television plays a major role in people’s lives.
The time that many people devote to television is astonishing. Recently, a global study showed that, on average, people watch TV for just over three hours each day. North Americans watch four and a half hours daily, while the Japanese top the list at five hours per day. Those hours add up. If we watch four hours daily, by age 60 we will have spent ten years in front of the screen. Yet, none of us would want inscribed on our tombstone: “Here lies our beloved friend, who devoted one sixth of his [or her] life to watching TV.”
Do people watch hours of television because they enjoy it? Not necessarily. Many believe that they spend too much time watching TV and feel guilty that they haven’t used their time more productively. Some say they are “TV addicts.” Of course, you cannot become addicted to TV in the same way that a person becomes addicted to narcotics, though there are similarities. Addicts devote much time to the drug they use. Though they want to reduce that time or quit the habit, they can’t. They sacrifice important social and family activities to use drugs, and they suffer withdrawal symptoms when they abstain. All these symptoms can occur in people who watch a lot of television.
“The eating of too much honey is not good,” wrote wise King Solomon. (Proverbs 25:27) The same principle applies to TV viewing. Though television offers much that is worthwhile, heavy viewing can cut into family time, hinder reading and academic performance in children, and contribute to obesity. If you invest a great deal of time in watching TV, it is smart to think about what you are getting in return. Our time is too precious to waste. It is also smart to think about what we watch. We will consider that subject in the next article.