Apologia: The Fullness of Christian Truth

``Where the Bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be;
even as where Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church'' Ignatius of Antioch, 1st c. A.D

There's a Stranger in Your House
by Jerry McGuire

On an average of six times a day, there's a stranger in your house, a stranger who has free access to your children and unlimited influence on their lives. The task of the stranger is simple. Its goal is to limit our ability to distinguish fantasy from reality. After all, that's what the stranger is all about.

The stranger often teaches our children things we would detest. It uses language which is gross and offensive. It shows our children things which are shocking and repulsive. This stranger has no concern for the age, experience or vulnerability of its victims. The stranger comes visiting at all hours without warning and is devious regarding its true intent. Its messages are often deceptive and appealing to young, innocent minds.

This stranger is cunning and has learned through years of practice and billions of dollars in research, how to enter the very soul of its prisoners. It has become an expert at exploiting audiences and trains them to go seek new participants. Recently the stranger has been "transformed" into a plastic cartridge which allows it to enter your home anytime and deliver its message of demand without time constraints.

The stranger has become so accepted in our homes that it has been given a place of honor in most of our rooms. It has even been allowed to join us during meals, as long as the meals do not disturb its message. Ironically, whenever the stranger joins us, it usually becomes the center of attention, rather than a stranger. At our dining tables we allow it to talk about things which would not be allowed during most family discussions.

Although this stranger can be crude, obscene and vulgar, we have decided that it can explain some things better than parents. We have given it permission to explain life, sex, family values, ethics and love. We depend upon it to define our values and priorities. We've turned over child care and family entertainment to its expertise. We've determined that we cannot live without its stimulation, motivation and sublimation. We have submitted ourselves, the lives of our children, to this stranger.

We spend untold hours telling our children of the dangers of strangers. We teach them not to talk to strangers, walk with strangers, ride with strangers or take things from strangers. However, with this special stranger, anything goes.

Everyday for an average of six hours, we give our children to the "stranger of the tube." Everyday the stranger talks to our children more than most parents do in a month. We allow the stranger to teach them things and use language for which we would have a real stranger arrested. We allow the stranger to cheat, lie, demonstrate how to commit crimes and how to avoid, and beat, our judicial system.

Without hesitation, the stranger mocks parents, belittles people of honor, makes fun of moral values, denies honorable beliefs, and scoffs at family and cultural traditions.

The stranger is powerful. It has thousands of employees who further its causes and develop its sophistication. It is so powerful that if it stops performing, we will use any means to acquire a new one immediately -- usually bigger, better, louder, and more detailed and preferably with attachable appendages to assist the stranger in accomplishing its purpose.

Recently some interested groups are advocating that the stranger should become a regular part of the daily curriculum in our schools. It would be allowed to visit our children without censorship or a preview of its presentation or contents. It would also be allowed to advertise its supporters and special interests.

Fortunately, the stranger is not entirely evil. Like any visitor, it has characteristics of value and interest. However, its behavior and influence on the lives of our children must be monitored. Parents must determine how much influence they want to turn over to the stranger when it is visiting.

There's a stranger in your house. It's keeping our children from doing their homework. It's preventing parents and children from talking together. The stranger is coming between members of the family. It has become the center of our society. We might consider scheduling its visits, and determining what we will allow the stranger to discuss and demonstrates when it visits our family.

Additional Articles

TV Linked to Kids' Attention Problems
Apr 5, 6:49 AM (ET)
By Lindsey Tanner

CHICAGO (AP) - Researchers have found that every hour preschoolers watch television each day boosts their chances - by about 10 percent - of developing attention deficit problems later in life.

The findings back up previous research showing that television can shorten attention spans and support American Academy of Pediatrics recommendations that youngsters under age 2 not watch television.

"The truth is there are lots of reasons for children not to watch television. Other studies have shown it to be associated with obesity and aggressiveness" too, said lead author Dr. Dimitri Christakis, a researcher at Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Center in Seattle.

The study, appearing in the April issue of Pediatrics, focused on two groups of children - aged 1 and 3 - and suggested that TV might overstimulate and permanently "rewire" the developing brain.

The study involved 1,345 children who participated in government-sponsored national health surveys. Their parents were questioned about the children's TV viewing habits and rated their behavior at age 7 on a scale similar to measures used in diagnosing attention deficit disorders.

The researchers lacked data on whether the youngsters were diagnosed with attention deficit disorders but the number of children whose parents rated them as having attention problems - 10 percent - is similar to the prevalence in the general population, Christakis said. Problems included difficulty concentrating, acting restless and impulsive, and being easily confused.

About 36 percent of the 1-year-olds watched no TV, while 37 percent watched one to two hours daily and had a 10 percent to 20 percent increased risk of attention problems. Fourteen percent watched three to four hours daily and had a 30 percent to 40 percent increased risk compared with children who watched no TV. The remainder watched at least five hours daily.

Among 3-year-olds, only 7 percent watched no TV, 44 percent watched one to two hours daily, 27 percent watched three to four hours daily, almost 11 percent watched five to six hours daily, and about 10 percent watched seven or more hours daily.

In a Pediatrics editorial, educational psychologist Jane Healy said the study "is important and long overdue" but needs to be followed up to confirm and better explain the mechanisms that may be involved.

The researchers didn't know what shows the children watched, but Christakis said content likely isn't the culprit. Instead, he said, unrealistically fast-paced visual images typical of most TV programming may alter normal brain development.

"The newborn brain develops very rapidly during the first two to three years of life. It's really being wired" during that time, Christakis said.

"We know from studies of newborn rats that if you expose them to different levels of visual stimuli ... the architecture of the brain looks very different" depending on the amount of stimulation, he said.

Overstimulation during this critical period "can create habits of the mind that are ultimately deleterious," Christakis said. If this theory holds true, the brain changes likely are permanent, but children with attention problems can be taught to compensate, he said.

The researchers considered factors other than TV that might have made some children prone to attention problems, including their home environment and mothers' mental states.

The American Academy of Pediatrics said in 1999 that children under the age of 2 should not watch television because of concerns it affects early brain growth and the development of social, emotional and cognitive skills.

Jennifer Kotler, assistant director for research at Sesame Workshop, which produces educational children's television programs including "Sesame Street," questioned whether the results in the April Pediatrics would apply to educational programming.

"We do not ignore this research," but more is needed on variables that could affect the impact of early exposure to television, including whether content or watching TV with a parent makes a difference, Kotler said.

"There's a lot of research... that supports the positive benefits of educational programming," she said.

The Hidden Dangers of Television
Published at http://www.sspxasia.com/Documents/Catholic_Morality/Dangers-of-Television.htm

Children's development needs

Children learn so much in their first three years compared to the rest of their lives. They learn to walk, to speak and experience the awakening of thinking as they grow from being babies to infants. Through play, children develop their knowledge of things, their relationships

Television watching itself affects child development regardless of the programme content. Recent research show that television watching adversely affects children's thinking, speaking, imagination, senses, physique, feelings, and behaviour. It is important for parents to be aware of these effects.

T.V. watching as an experience

Television watching puts children into a passive, trance-like state where they become "TV zombies" a condition quite different from their active, playful state when not watching. Some parents observed that: "my five year old goes into a trance when he watches TV He just gets locked into what is happening on the screen. He's totally, absolutely absorbed when he watches and oblivious to anything else." After television watching children can be irritable. "After watching they're nervous, bored, disagreeable, slowly coming back to normal." What, then, do children experience while watching television?

TV addiction

Marie Winn calls television the 'plug-in-drug' because many people find they cannot stop watching. People joke about being "hooked on TV" Someone said "I watch TV the way an alcoholic drinks."

Not unlike drugs and alcohol, TV watching allows the participant to blot out the real world and enter into a pleasurable and passive mental state, where worries and anxieties cannot intrude. The typical vacant state of someone on drugs or alcohol is very similar to the state of the TV watcher.

The eyes need to be completely passive in order to watch TV i.e. a fixed focus, no voluntary eye movements and a fixed head position. It is as if instead of the imagery arising from within as in day dreaming, it is produced mechanically for the watcher by the television.ips with other children, their physical control and their imagination. Playing is a child's work, and channels energy constructively into the learning processes. It is essentially active. Children learn through imitating other children and the adults who tell stories, nursery rhymes, speak with them, and who can provide everyday activities such as baking or making pictures.

TV retards brain development

The brain is patterned by the senses, by movement, speech, thought and imagination. As the brain develops, children shift from a non-verbal "right hemisphere" dreaming consciousness to a verbal, logical "left hemisphere" state. Television watching prolongs children's dependency on the right hemisphere. The "brain" strain on children of forming 625 lines composed of over 800 dots appearing 25 times per second - into meaningful images must be considerable. With the lack of eye movement, this strain can produce sleeplessness, anxiety, nightmares, headaches, perceptual disorders, poor concentration and blunted senses. T. V. watching can produce sensory deprivation.

TV and speaking

Children learn to speak by talking with real people, not by listening to mechanically reproduced sound. Real people speaking communicate the meaning of words, whereas television only reproduces the sounds, a subtle but vital difference, confusing for toddlers. Television by emphasising the visual, reduces the need of children to learn how to speak; no verbal response is required of the child; thus speech is discouraged.

Members of a working-party on reading agreed that "Children knew nursery rhymes much less well than previously, largely because of television which was a "look and forget" rather than a "look and learn" medium.

TV encourages lazy readers

Reading involves concentration, accurate perception, imagination, the comprehension of a story line, and the freedom of the reader to vary the pace. Television, by causing the "vacant state" undermines concentration; by an overwhelming visual impact stultifies the imagination; by blunting the senses, interferes with the mechanics of reading; and by emphasising the nonverbal reduces children's enthusiasm for words.

A reduced sense of identity

Before television, there was a children's culture rich in games, songs and rhymes. Children could play longer, sustain interest more, play dramatically and were more active according to experienced nursery teachers. Television watching puts children into an untypically passive state in which they are deprived of their true work which is their play.

Children develop their sense of identity, of saying "I" to themselves in meeting real people. The people on TV are unreal, impersonal images which do little or nothing to awaken a child's sense of self. Hence "TV children" may tend to relate to themselves and others as things, objects, tools or even machines. This attitude may later develop into an inability to react constructively in social situations.

Anti-social behaviour

The content of violent programmes may affect children's behaviour, for children learn by imitation. However, the nature of the TV experience regardless of programme content may cause antisocial behaviour. Relating to others more as objects than human beings, a result of TV watching, can contribute to violence. Also, the television experience gives an illusion of participating in an activity when in fact one is totally passive, so that children who are heavy viewers are less able to judge the feelings, expectations and problems of others in real life situations.

The effects of radiation

Radiation and artificial light may affect children's health and vitality. The scientist Ott found that beans' growth in front of a TV set was distorted by toxic radiation into a vine like growth, with roots growing upwards out of the soil. Ott questioned what the excessive absorption of artificial light might do to children.

Almost no educational benefit

Which is better qualified to teach a young child, a machine or another human being? Experienced teachers have noted that children who watch quite a lot of television retain very little of its content after a short while (The "look and forget" Medium). This could be due to the fact that the children are not called-upon to be active; they are not engaging their will-power and creating their own imaginative pictures. The impression left by the TV images is superficial.

The American programme "Sesame Street" was specially designed to help disadvantaged pre-school children catch up cognitively and verbally with those from more fortunate backgrounds. A 1975 survey suggests that "Sesame Street" widened the achievement gap, and that light viewers exhibited more gains in learning than heavy viewers.

What can we do?

If you feel, after reading this, that you would like to change your family's habits with regard to television, how should you go about it? First, make sure that both parents are in agreement. Then realise that it will be difficult to get rid of television without putting other things in its place, especially if your family have been heavy viewers.

1 - Restrict firmly the number of programmes watched, or, if you are resolute enough, get rid of the TV set altogether. Or put it away and use it only for very special occasions.

2 - Offer alternative activities of a creative sort, e.g. crafts, puppetry, dressing-up drawing and painting, modelling, pets, various hobbies, sports, music, fork dancing, nature studies, gardening.

3 - Encourage reading of well-written books (classics). Read aloud to little ones.

4 - Aim at a positive and warm family life, interesting mealtimes, bedtime stories, singing, nursery rhymes, etc.

5 - Try to find friends who think the same way and help each other, e.g. organising children's parties together.

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