October 1, 1987 Issue

Wayne Kilpatrick

A fascinating experiment on addiction was reported in an issue of Good Housekeeping magazine. Not drug addiction. Not alcohol addiction. Not tobacco or candy addiction. It was television addiction.

A Detroit newspaper made an offer to 120 families in the city. The families were promised $500 each if they would agree not to watch television for one month. Thats right. They would get 500 bucks free and clear if they would keep the tube off for just 30 days. Guess how many turned down the offer. Ninety-three.

Of the 27 families who said yes, five were studied and reported on in the magazine article. Right away you realize it was quite an adjustment for them. Each family had been watching television 40 to 70 hours a week; that's between 5.7 and 10 hours a day. Every day of the week, the monotonous sounds and electronic pictures were a continual part of those households, year in, year out.  

Serious pain accompanied the sudden cold turkey withdrawal from the plug-in drug. Remarkable things occurred, some almost bizarre. One lady started talking to her cat, while one couple stopped talking to each other altogether.

But some good things occurred also. Books, dusty from neglect, were pulled off the shelf and read. Families played games, listened to the radio and enjoyed playing records together. In another family, two young children spent some time practicing how to spell their names and addresses. I mean, how intellectual can you get?

Miracle of miracles, several parents actually reported young children taking their baths at night without throwing a fit. Some (better sit down) willingly practiced their piano lessons. Were talking domestic revolution!

The results? Well, the no-TV-month families had to admit four facts:

1. Their family members were brought closer together.

2. More eyeball-to-eyeball time took place between parents and children.

3. There was a marked increase in patience between family members.

4. Creativity was enhanced.

We probably never will know the toll TV addiction has taken on our nations youth as far as potential and productivity are concerned. There is much truth in the comment made in the Christian Medical Society Journal several years ago that said, "The primary danger of the television screen lies not so much in the behavior it produces, as the behavior it prevents."

Hey, lets do something about this, folks. Its a tough uphill battle, but it isnt insurmountable. Coming off addiction is always difficult. Getting off dead center is never a downhill slide, television included. It actually boils down to the correct use of two of the smallest things in your house--the on-off knob on your set and the simple, yet powerful word, "no." Establish some well-defined rules. Set limits, and don't overlook the addictive video game.

Believe me, the ultimate benefits you will enjoy will be worth much more than $500, and they certainly will last a lot longer. So, my advice is for you to unplug the plug-in drug. Do it now, not later!

(The above article is reproduced from the GOSPEL ADVOCATE, 1/5/87 (p. 77). It Is so timely that I HAD to ask brother Kilpatrick for permission to submit it to this paper. In reference to the idea of the behavior the TV screen produces, see THE LIGHT, 8/86, (p. 8). Read article, "Young Ronny Zamora.")-- Tony Denton


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