The amount of television viewing has increased significantly during lockdown so that last year the average person in the UK was watching 5 hours 40 mins per day, equating to almost a third of our waking hours! It is common for people to underestimate the actual time spent viewing until it is analysed. Time is a precious gift from God and evidently much of it is being needlessly squandered.
Over twenty years ago I was aware that the viewing stats were roughly 3 hours per day and considered that if someone lived for 72 or 96 years respectively, that they would spend 9 or 12 years of their lives glued to the box. I am grateful that at one point my parents wisely rationed the amount of time I spent viewing since at that time, since I could easily have succumbed to the same. I recognise, that from time to time, I need to carefully evaluate how much and what I watch too. In short, television is a time thief, and the above stats demonstrate that we all need to be vigilant.
Granted, not all viewing is a waste of time and can help us to unwind and even be educational, though for the most part if we are honest, unless we are selective and wise in what we are watching, most of it is not constructive. Furthermore, the values and agenda of many programmes and especially some channels are diametrically opposed and persistently seek to undermine a biblical worldview. If we need convincing concerning that last statement, then it is most probable that the television occupies our thoughts and governs our desires more than the Bible does, and there is a lack of discernment on our part.
The Benefits of Assessing what we Watch and Watching Less
It is easy to consider the above, state that it is shocking, state how little we watch and how much others watch and continue on in the same trend. We would be wise to honestly calculate the amount of time we spend watching, consider the value of, or what we view, and adjust appropriately and accordingly.
That time could be spent engaging more meaningfully with family or friends. Television is so pervasive in our lives, that whether we care to admit it or not, our viewing patterns affect us socially, psychologically, educationally, physically, emotionally. and spiritually. Children will learn to socialise and learn more effectively with the TV turned off to help them concentrate properly. Equally this chunk of time could be spent in constructive activity such as reading or exercising or pursuing hobbies or obtaining educational qualifications. Sometimes there are good biblical programmes on certain channels though that should never become a substitute for genuine fellowship.
We were not created to worship the television and we must be careful not to become locked into an idolatrous lockdown pattern of viewing that has piggy-backed on the previous unhealthy infatuation. Television is like a modern- day idol since it is fashioned with the hands of the designer and given prominence of place, often dominating centre stage in a room or several rooms leaving its adorers transfixed on it. The acid test is how we feel without it and how it would affect your life if you went without it. Do not let television own you!
Some say that they are too busy to pray though even if we average a half or a third of the national average viewing, we see clearly that we have more than enough time to spend on devotions and seeking the Lord. It is time to recognise time as a valuable gift from God and to plan and structure our time so that television is not our default setting leaving our minds and thoughts in screensaver mode! We will undoubtedly be happier, more blessed and fulfilled, when we occupy our time in a more balanced way and in doing what we were created to do, all for the glory of God.
Jon Taylor August 2021