Let Television Be Their Teacher

Let television be their teacher.  That is what’s happening in the world today, isn’t it?  Don’t you see more and more parents dealing with their whining child by setting him (or her) in front of the TV, a video game or handing them a cell phone to keep them quiet?  What a sensible way to deal with it, eh?  The worst part is that our children quickly realize how easy it is to get what they want – they just need to whine long enough to make it happen.  …and the cycle continues with very little to no effort on either side!

I heard a comment once about how the TV is “the best babysitter ever!”  So disturbing…

As I look out across my neighborhood, there are very few kids that play outside any more.  No longer do they seem interested or engaged in activities like playing ball, building forts, riding bikes or even hanging out with each other in person…even on the most beautiful summer day you could imagine.  Either these kids are over-scheduled with formal commitments such as sports, music, gymnastics or dance or they are inside watching TV since age 4, PG-13 movies by age 8, playing M-rated video games at 12, and totally consumed with their smartphones after 14.  FOURTEEN!!  Who pays for that phone and associated data plan at this age?!  …and if they’ve seen it all by 14, what are they going to need for stimulation when they are 16, 17 and 18?

Here’s a perspective I read somewhere the other day:

“The older I get, the more I appreciate what I had growing up:

Mom didn’t call my cell, she yelled my name. I played outside with friends, not online. If I didn’t eat what my mom cooked, then I didn’t eat. Sanitizer didn’t exist, but you COULD get your mouth washed out with soap. I drank water from a garden hose and survived. I rode a bike without a helmet, getting dirty was ok… and neighbors gave a darn as much as your parents did.”

I miss those days – they seemed so innocent compared to what we face today.  It’s so hard to keep these old-school principals alive when so much around us has changed.  Don’t get me wrong, I love technology but also want to see it used more conservatively with kids…or at more age-appropriate times.  Why do they need access to this stuff so soon?  We lived without it back then, why can’t they?  What’s the rush to have them grow up so fast?  Be kids while you are still kids – there’s plenty of time to be an adult later.

One final thought about the video games that are available these days: M-rated games are increasing in their levels of profanity, violence, sexual themes and other questionable material.  What do you think these messages are doing to influence a child’s attitude, perception and behavior??  We’re fooling ourselves if we think this has no affect!!

I don’t even want to go into the other potential problems all this exposure to inappropriate content could lead to.  Purposefully avoiding the worst possible content viewable online, let’s consider only the effects of just regular TV and mainstream movies.  Do we really want our kids taught what they need to know about life from what is being shown to them in this format?  Is that really who we want to be their teacher?  Will the product of this “classroom” be someone we want our children to marry or suitable to be our next leader?

As we think about raising the bar in our respective scouting units, consider this quote by Lord Baden-Powell:

“Let us, therefore, in training our Scouts, keep the higher aims in the forefront, not let ourselves get too absorbed in the steps.  Don’t let the technical outweigh the moral.  Field efficiency, backwoodsmanship, camping, hiking, good turns, jamboree comradeship are all means, not the end.  The end is character – character with a purpose.  And that purpose, that the next generation may be sane in an insane world, and develop the higher realization of service, active service of love, and duty to God and neighbor.”

What an interesting statement: that the next generation be sane in an insane world.  How true that is probably now more than ever in this digital age we live in.  I suppose that’s why I believe so strongly in scouting and will do everything I can to help it stay strong in preserving the beliefs, morals and values of the scouting movement as it was founded by Robert Baden-Powell.

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