Television, just like many other technological gadgets, has struggled to have uninterrupted access to our homes. Although looking at it from the lens of an AD 2021 individual, it is a normal thing and a basic necessity in our homes, something has never been the case by the oldies, if you can ask them. When I was a little boy, Television was not for every Tom, Dick, and Harry. In the village, we knew which homes had a black and white TV set from Taiwan. The village demigods were primarily teachers and sometimes civil servants who cared to keep in touch with the matters of the day. It will be dryland to a deep water fish, trying to convince a young millennial that we had an exciting childhood without Jim Jam and Nickelodeon.
I am not a very old person, but I had the privilege of having my childhood and teenage in the transition period, bidding analog bye as we welcome the digitization. We got our mirth from the innocent games with our little friends, going on the family errands. As ages advanced, we began taking primary responsibilities as defined by gender and culture. As a gentleman, mine was herding the hundreds of cattle in my father’s compound with other responsible adults and iron sharpened iron. All the essential manly traits were handed down during such ventures and other activities that fall under the timeless apprenticeship method. Indeed our childhood can make a blockbuster film in Hollywood, was it to be scripted by an astute pen.
At the end of each day, we were not bothered that we would miss a program on TV. But, typical of country living, supper was served early enough, sparing us a lot of time before bed, and here most of us learned to become great storytellers at the feet of the best storytellers. It was not grandparents since I didn’t have that privilege. Still, my mother, the daughter of the lakeside, had that blessing of putting her words together in a way that I find pretty recherche and which I have significantly borrowed. So as a little boy, all stories were tweaked to fit the need of the young people, after which we had time to reflect and hung on the memories hall, the timeless lessons we could pick.
Most of these are relics of the past as our young families are becoming modern and more preoccupied. It would not be wrong to describe most of us as very busy doing nothing. We are too busy than is productively needful, so we incur costly consequences, most of which we realize too late, and the journey to the path of rectitude is a travailing pilgrimage.
Maybe a look at our modern lifestyle will make more sense. An average modern family has two very hardworking parents because the tastes are expensive and must be satisfied. We have a car loan to service, a mortgage has turned us into a bank property, and keeping up with our consumption patterns makes it an absolute necessity to work hard. The consequence is that we need a domestic manager to take care of home affairs, which is quite in order. However, we end up over delegating. You see, some duties cannot be delegated. These include parentage, marital responsibilities, and child guidance. But we have left our children to have another companion in the name of a cartoon channel. So your child is left with Jim Jam, and you were not consulted while the script was being written. The effect is that our children become cartoons in tastes and preferences and their worldview. The moral stamp comes at the time when they are so vulnerable and hungry for knowledge.
And we need to even look at it more beyond moral considerations and look at it from a scholarly, mental, and psychological lens. Most psychologists and mental health experts are not reluctant to categorically discourage long hours on TV, and some strict ones are even divesting it entirely from our homes. Listen to this sobering and blunt statement from Eric Braverman, founder and President of Path Foundation NY, a nonprofit research organization devoted to brain health:
“Television mesmerizes people and turns them into intellectual spectators. It feeds passivity and makes you less engaged.”
What do you think about this? Unlike myself, who may be accused of being opinionated because I haven’t done any scientifically proven research, Braverman holds a more scientific authority to talk about this. You should now understand why your children cannot concentrate on vital issues and assignments for even the recommended forty minutes. They are restless and fussy and ever complaining. The TV programs have a quick transition with a lot of suspense which life does not have. So when people’s concentration span has been infringed with the hours on TV, they become intellectual spectators with extremely compressed analytical skills. We demand the sagacity of King Solomon from them after we have sacrificed their mental faculties. I find this very ridiculous.
So what solution Do I give?
I understand that our times are very different from the gone generation. We have a very different outlook on life, and we need to have cable TV in our homes. But we must be cautious about being in charge still. We must not allow strangers to choose what our children consume. Let us ensure they get the best and limit the hours. Find a creative way to spend their time other than spending forever glued to Tom and Jerry. As a father, allow no one to instill manhood in your son other than you. As a woman, prepare your little girl in such a way that when called to fill the position of a wife and a mother, she presides as a queen in her own domain.