Thursday, May 08, 2008

The Maxwells on Television

From Steve and Terri Maxwell, Keeping our Children's Hearts
"I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes..." (Psalm 101:3). Television is filled with wickedness and evil. Even if there are shows that would be okay, the commercials won't be acceptable. How can we expect to keep our sons' hearts if they are continually exposed to immorality and immodestly dressed women on television? Will our daughters want to be morally pure when continually exposed to romance that is idolized on television? Won't our children's hearts be drawn to being entertained if they are allowed to spend their time in front of the television? Will we grow an appetite in our children for laziness by letting them watch? Consider well the spiritual outcomes of children watching television.
I share the Maxwells' concerns about television, and they go on to suggest that nothing good can come of any media experience. Though I have enjoyed many of the premises of this book, several of their ideas about sheltering seem a bit overstated.


JoeG said...

I'm sorry, but that's a load of hooey. Removing television from the kid's lives is removing a very important parenting opportunity in a child's life. My son is 5 years old. We watch TV together. Yes, we let him watch the Simpsons. He loves the Harry Potter and Lord of the Ring movies. But he's not always glued to the TV. Sometimes we're playing a game together, or coloring. But sometimes kids, like adults, need to plop in front of the TV and shut their brains down for an hour or two.
We limit the amount he watches. Chores come first, and if the weather is nice, we are outside playing before packing it in for the night. When he watches TV, we always watch with him. If something not appropriate comes up, we talk about it and explain why it is not good. He learns from it. Yes, he'll run around saying "D'oh!" like Homer. So what?? He knows enough not to repeat any bad words. We don't shelter him from this stuff, because it is out there and cannot be avoided. We'd rather he know how do deal with it up front, from us, instead of him seeing/hearing it somewhere else and not knowing what to do. Is there evil stuff on TV? Of course there is. But there is "evil" stuff everywhere. Use it as a learning opportunity.
Our theory is this. If you shelter a child from germs as a baby, the body will never learn how to deal with the germs when the child is finally exposed at a later age. Likewise, you can't shelter a child from life, or they will never learn how to deal with it, adapt, and react.

Tony said...


Thanks for commenting on this post!

The Maxwells' thoughts on this subject are a bit overstated in my opinion as well. You and I are just about on the same page in regards to watching television.

I have five kids and they would watch all day if we would let them. However, we are strict in what we allow them to watch and shelter them from a lot of negative influences on TV.

We follow the same pattern as you; school (we homeschool, btw)and chores first, if weather is good, outside, and mind-stimulating activities if at all possible.

But sometimes, they need a mind-numbing activity and TV foots that bill (we also exercise the same discretion with Internet). We do shelter them as much as possible from TV violence. We won't let our kids watch LOTR because of the abject violence, though there is a definite separation between the good guys and the bad guys, unlike the HP movies. Often, you see Harry, Hermione, and Ron doing bad things to accomplish good goals (such as lying, deception).

My wife and I take an approach where we allow the negative to seep in, yet under our supervision. We also will educate them on some horribly negative things and give them the tools to deal with it when it comes up, though we know it won't come up under our watch as parents.

On another note, at a homeschooling conference with the Maxwells, whom we deeply respect, don't misunderstand, Steve often referred to the TV as "The Beast"; again, another overstatement of the problem. The TV is a tool, and like any tool, can be abused and misused.

And I like your germ analogy!

JoeG said...

Yes, I disagree with calling television "The Beast", even though it has killed a fair share of my own brain cells! :)
In my experience, I have found that too many parents are either too overprotective, or just sit back and let their kids do anything without repercussion. That second group consists of parents who are ignorant, can't be bothered, completely oblivious, or too scared to punish little Johnny because he may get mad. As a result, their kids are either paranoid, or monsters.
Those parents who attempt to find a balace seem to have balanced, well-behaved children who know right from wrong, mess up occasionally, deal with the consequences of thier actions, and hopefuly learn from them. Though you and I differ on certain things, we both seem to be finding the balance that works best for us and for our children. While religion may drive some of that, there are other factors as well. But you and I as parents are taking responsibility for our children, being hands-on in their development while giving them room to experience both the good and bad in life, make mistakes, and grow up without unnecessary fear.

Tony said...

Thanks for the words of affirmation, Joe. I have discovered it is beneficial dialogging with you!

I have seen both extremes in parenting as well, from paranoid overprotection to a hands-off approach. And you are right, we both seem to be striving to find what works best for our kids. I have a post upcoming about the Maxwells' views on spots. If you thought their views on TV are preposterous wait until you hear these thoughts!

Tony said...

Spots! Good grief.


Karma Shuford said...

Bernard and I haven't had a TV in 11 years (since we got married). Now, we don't see it as "a beast," but we don't see them as necessary, either. This is obviously a personal preference and while we are a testimony that you can survive without one, we don't actively campaign against them, either. :) Heck, if everyone got rid of their TVs, where could we go to watch them?

Our 3 yo has no interest in TV, except for a couple of shows that she sees at her grandmother's house, or on the DVDs she watches on the computer at our house.

Our 6 yo, though, would watch 24/7 if we let him. His "downtime" or "mind numbing" is in the form of video games or DVDs that we let him watch. Yes, we "shelter" our kids, but only because the world throws so much at them at such a young age.

That said, I don't think any form of media is inherently evil -- it is how we use it, or how we allow it to use us that causes problems.

Tony said...


I have wondered if the Maxwells are overreaching on purpose here...but then, when you follow their blog, where they shamelessly post a lot of personal stuff, it seems like a lot of what they have written they practice at home.

I see TV watching and the amount you watch as ultimately up to the parents. If you can monitor it and your child's development or well-being isn't harmed, then that is your decision to make. When it becomes detrimental, then steps should be taken to either remove it or lessen the time watched or more closely monitor what is watched (which I strongly favor).

Looks like we all may be pretty much on the same page here. As I remarked to Joe, the TV is a tool, and can be misused and abused.

It also looks like you might become a regular commenter. That would not be a bad thing. :)

JoeG said...

I find it beneficial as well Tony!
I agree with your comments to Karma as well. While we have not gotten rid of our TV's, we do not subscribe to cable or satellite. We still use good old antenna! (For now, thank you US Gov't for going digital! < / sarcasm>) We aren't home enough to justify the expense, and if we were paying that much for it, we'd all be watching more of it too! But you should see the looks we get when we tell people we don't have a dish or cable. You'd think we told them we still live by candlelight!! It saves us money, and it helps us control how we use it. It is a tool, and can be misused just as easily as a hammer.

Tony said...

Joe, neither do we have dish or cable! What the kids watch we check out at the library or get on Netflix. And we are accustomed to the strange looks, too!

JoeG said...

Yes, the library is very big for us as well! Rather than use Netflix, we use the RedBox kiosk in our local Stop & Shop grocery store to rent the latest releases that we can't always find at the library. At $1 per night, RedBox beats any other rental option around, as I only pick up the movie on the day we are going to watch it and return it the next day.

Anonymous said...

I have been reading this book and find it interesting that the Maxwells claim, on page 140, that their children's TV programs would be interrupted with cigarette commercials. As far as I can tell, they have always lived in the US - and cigarette commercials were banned in 1970. Their oldest is in his early 30's, at the most. I was born in 1967 and can't remember ever seeing a cigarette commercial on TV.