I sat in a church with a group of preschoolers and asked them to be very still and ask God, “Who does God want you to love today?” We sat in silence as I thought about the profound answers I may hear. The first boy to eagerly raise his hand blurted, “God talked to me, and he said he wants me to love my TV and watch it all afternoon.”
Wow, my ideas of God telling the preschoolers to love their family and friends and teachers and pets was derailed by the first child sharing he needs to love his television and watch it all afternoon. The percentages of children watching screen time is increasing in alarming rates. According to the Neilson Company, children are watching television 3.5 hours a day. 54% of children ages 4-6 would rather spend time watching television than spending time with their father.
Studies have shown that television viewing is associated with learning problems and language delays in preschoolers (Tanimura, 2007). Television viewing promotes attention problems (Christakis, 2004) and interferes with academic performance (Strasburger, 1986). More than 1,000 studies have shown an association between exposure to violent television programming and aggressive or violent behaviors in children (Strasburger, 2002), including early exposure as preschoolers and later antisocial behavior (Christakis, 2007). It is estimated that the average child views 12,000 acts of violence every year. Most network broadcasted shows for children contain 20 violent acts per hour.
With statistics like that, it no longer surprises me that television is on the minds of children. Movies like “Frozen” are very popular with my preschool friends. They talk about watching favorite things over and over while they also act out parts with great detail. The balance we all need is to help make the priorities of our hearts equal the priorities of our actions.
The average adult is worse than a child, we spend over 5 hours a day with a television which equates to a full 9 years of our lives trying to be entertained. If you start adding the screen time of going to the movies and looking up things on the internet, the numbers escalate.
We all have free will. (Any parent of a preschooler KNOWS that children will not always obey their parent.) We all can make choices. On this Valentine’s Day, let’s try to let our actions match what is really in our hearts. It is never too late to get out some glue and paper and make a Valentine for your loved ones. Also, remember that whoever you do love, you may want to spend some time with them.
- On an average day, how much screen time do you have?
- Will you bravely ask God who you should love today?
- What are two things you could do today to better show how your heart aligns with your actions?