Turned Off by Television, Families Now “Screen-Free”

by Erin Drake

RALEIGH, NC (AgapePress) – TV-Turnoff Network held their fourth annual National-TV Turnoff Week in late April by encouraging children and adults to watch less television in order to promote healthier lives and communities.

“Children raised with little or no TV tend to have excellent verbal skills, find opportunities to develop their thinking skills and imaginations, and exhibit contentment and affection, with less aggression in their play and relationships,” said Steve Jurovics, president of Raleigh-based LimiTV, which provides resources and support to reduce TV viewing and help children make transitions to alternate activities.

Studies have long shown a correlation between television viewing and violence, but only recently has it been proven there is a cause-and-effect relationship. This has resulted in a significant change in attitude towards television, and doctors are now beginning to treat TV viewing as a medical issue.

Over 2,000 studies have linked television violence to real-life violence, and other studies have linked obesity to television viewing. The American Medical Association and American Association of Pediatricians agree that more than 10 hours of TV per week negatively affects academic achievement for some children.

But for two families in the Raleigh-Durham area, turning off the television for a week is not quite good enough. They prefer no TV.

Debbie and David Dodson of Raleigh have been without a television for a year, and feel that throwing it out was the best thing they have done for their family.

“People at the dump thought we were crazy for throwing out a perfectly good television set,” said David Dodson. “TV had nothing that would edify or encourage our family, morally or spiritually.”

With more free time, Dodson got more involved in his woodworking and picked up his pen and ink after 20 years. His three teenage children were thrilled when he began teaching them how to draw.

The Dodson children began a music ministry and perform at local nursing homes in the area. “Our children have not been removed from society because they do not have a television,” said Dodson. “We are more a part of society now than we ever were.”

Tammy and David Butts of Cary, NC, have never had a television throughout their 16-year marriage. They both grew up with the television always on in their homes.

“With six kids under age 11, it would be easy and very tempting to use TV as a babysitter,” said Tammy Butts. “I am a better mother without TV.”

Over the years people have offered the Butts’ televisions, as if not owning one was like not having a refrigerator. They have also been told they were trying to shield their kids from reality.

Both the Butts and the Dodsons agree that television offers unwholesome and unrealistic views of realty. The content also conflicts with their upholding of Christian values. For example, Ashleigh Butts, 11, asked after viewing a chewing gum commercial at Grandma’s house, “Why do they need sex to sell gum?”

“I believe I have helped maintain my kids innocence,” said Tammy Butts. “As parents, we have a responsibility to control what they see until they are mature enough to make responsible decisions for themselves.”

Tammy Butts, who had never heard of National TV-Turnoff Week, said, “I encourage people to try watching no TV for a week. People often use it as an excuse not to deal with family or relationships.”

“I wonder what people would do with that time normally spent in front of the TV?”

(This update courtesy of Agape Press.)

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