19 Nissan 5779 / Wednesday, April 24, 2019 | Torah Reading: Acharei Mot
 
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Killing Us Softly    

Killing Us Softly



It waits patiently to infect its unassuming victims. There is no bias, no preference based on age or gender. Everyone is equally susceptible to this equal-opportunity killer…

 



It waits patiently in the homes of millions, waiting to infect its unassuming victims. There is no bias, no preference based on age or gender. Everyone is equally susceptible to this equal-opportunity killer. Every day, in the “safety” of our own homes, we come into contact with its venom, but we don’t feel the sting right away.      Like radiation poisoning, it builds up slowly, steadily, until its effects are felt through our ravaged bodies, and we become helpless to fight off the deadly sickness.  Though most of us become infected as children, we don’t notice the cumulative effects until we are much older, if ever. The biggest problem with this disease is that we willingly invite it in. Not only do we invite it into our lives, we relish every moment that we are being infected. That’s one of its tricks; like chocolate-covered poison, as Rabbi Brody says. If you haven’t yet guessed what sneaky killer I’m referring to, I’ll give you a hint.
 
TELEVISION.
 
Did you guess yet? To most of you, I might sound overly dramatic. After all, what’s the harm in zoning out for a few hours after a hard day at work? Is it so bad to want to escape reality for a short time? Don’t we all deserve a little time off?? Sure, this sounds innocent enough. But that’s part of the ploy- to make it seem harmless. That’s how many people end up addicted to drugs or alcohol. First, they take a drink or have a smoke once in a while, just to “let off steam” from a hard day.
 
Then, it turns into a social occurrence, when one drink a week becomes daily drinks with the cronies after work. Before you know it, you can’t wait to get through the day in order to have your smoke or scotch on the rocks. Congratulations, you’re addicted.
 
Unfortunately, the problem with addiction to television began before most of us had a say in the matter. As young, unassuming children, we trusted our parents’ actions and even until today, don’t think twice about it. How do I know that TV is an addiction for most children? Let me ask you- do you remember how MAD you got when your parents turned off the TV? Were you begging for just one more minute? Did you burst into tears? Did you stomp your feet and threaten to not eat dinner? This behavior is much too similar to addiction, don’t you think?
 
Rabbi Brody is vehemently against children watching television for a number of reasons, and he’s not alone. Back in 1975, the Gedolim, the Chief Rabbis of Israel, issued a statement warning people about the dangers of television. No one took them seriously. After all, they were not raised with it. What did they know about the advancements of modern society? They were barely raised with running water, as Rabbi Eli Mansour puts it.  G-d told the Jewish People, “Do not bring an abomination into your house, as you will become accursed like it. You shall abhor the abhorrent and detest the detestable.”
 
Well, people, the detestable is in our midst, and we’re loving every minute of it. I recently came across a jaw-dropping article that clearly pointed out all of the obvious and hidden dangers of television. If you would like to reference that article yourself, here’s the link:
 
 http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/dangers-of-television/.
 
What I will offer is a short synopsis of what I feel to be the most important points.
 
Point #1: There is a direct positive correlation between time spent watching television and alcohol consumption. In 1993, one out of three high school seniors, one out of four tenth-graders, and one out of seven eighth-graders got drunk at least once every two weeks. The U.S. Surgeon General reports that alcohol is the most widely consumed beverage on television, far surpassing sodas, coffee, and water. The heavy drinkers on the shows are main characters that are likeable, not the villains or supporting characters. It’s not only the shows that are dangerous; the average person watches 10,000 advertisements for alcohol before the age of 21! Is it any wonder kids are drawn to drinking these days?! The parents might as well shove a beer in their kids’ hands as they watch Lady Gaga gyrate across the stage! A major research study done by Stanford University gives us a more accurate picture: “one extra hour of television viewing per day was associated with an average 9% increase in the risk of starting to drink over the next eighteen months; [and] similarly, one extra hour of music video [MTV] viewing per day was associated with an average 31% increase in the risk of starting to drink over the next eighteen months.”  These numbers remained consistent even after factoring in age, gender, education, and family background.
 
Point #2: Watching television is the most influential factor inducing children to commit acts of violence. And which channel is the biggest culprit? MTV, of course.  Way back in 1992, MTV was averaging 22 violent acts per hour. I can almost guarantee that number has at least doubled, if not tripled, by now. The next biggest culprit? Prime Time Television- good, wholesome, family entertainment. NOT! Though I wish the numbers I could quote are more recent, you can imagine them for yourself: back in 1993, prime time shows were averaging 60 violent acts per hour! Do you realize- that’s more than one violent act per second on average!

And this was 18 years ago!! Violence on TV is glorified and portrayed with very little consequences, especially on MTV. Gangsters come across as heroic and the object of desire for all of the “ladies” that surround them. A large study done by the University of Washington found that homicide rates spiked consistently 10-15 years after the introduction of television into different areas. The amazing thing is that demographic factors such as race, education, family stability, and location were negligible in their influence over the children when compared with television. They also didn’t cause a shift in any direction regarding homicide rates. Another 22-year-long study by researchers at the University of Illinois found that the amount of TV watched by children at eight years old was the single-most determining factor in their level of violent behavior at age 30. The U.S. Surgeon General and National Institute of Mental Health state that the latest evidence “seems overwhelming that [watching] televised violence and [acting with] aggression are positively correlated in children. As one of the professors in the University of Illinois study states, “The scientific debate is over. Television makes children violent.”
 
Point #3: Television is not about entertainment- it’s about commercialism. One of the greatest secrets known only to those in the media is that television is not about providing entertaining programming- it’s about holding your attention long enough for the advertisers to pump their garbage into your psyche. Advertisements are intended to create a feeling of lack. All of a sudden, a woman is wondering why she’s not 98 pounds and balancing on $600 stilt-like heels. A man is dreaming about that manly pick-up truck, even though his car works perfectly fine. Even more devastatingly, a child is wondering why he doesn’t have the latest overpriced toy or why she doesn’t have the latest and greatest anorexic-looking Barbie. How dare parents deprive their children of such unnecessary toys!
 
Point #4: There is a direct positive correlation between watching television and poor academic performance. Didn’t I always say Spongebob makes you stupid? Now I have evidence to back it up! There have been numerous studies done on this fact, but one study in particular shows that television doesn’t just lower our children’s test scores; it actually lowers their IQ’s as well! Professors at the University of Pennsylvania concluded, “The drop in IQ scores was large and consistent, and it could not be attributed to television attracting an abundance of children from lower socio-economic groups or crowded families.” A large-scale study done by the state of California found something else quite interesting: the more TV a child watches, the lower his professional aspirations fall. So we can see that watching TV damages our IQ’s and potentials. But why? Here are some reasons. The brain is like a muscle; if you don’t work it out, it will atrophy. Reading is challenging for children. If they don’t practice, they will suffer their entire academic careers and beyond. TV also tends to keep kids up past their bedtime. It over-stimulates them, causing more difficulty in falling asleep. Here’s the big reason: George Comstock explains, “The pacing of much television suppresses impulse control and the ability to attend to the slower pace of schooling.” We are training our kids to have low attention spans. Is it any wonder that we see such an exponential growth in kids suffering from ADHD? Even if we have kids that haven’t been labeled yet, the short clips they watch on TV make it harder for them to concentrate on real-life interactions, such as an hour-long lesson at school.
 
And don’t think any of this is accidental. The media knows exactly what they’re doing! Since the 1950’s they have been successfully turning most of the nation into TV zombies, programming their brains with exactly the desires they want them to have. When I say zombie, I’m not exaggerating. Read what Harvard Professor T. Perry Brazelton discovered: When he hooked up newborn babies to   EEG’s and exposed them to flickering lights similar to television, he discovered that the babies’ brains went into sleep mode, even though they were still awake!  TV literally causes our brains to shut off, and we sit on the couch in a passive state, just like zombies! Many of us like to munch on a snack as we’re watching- have you noticed that we don’t even pay attention to what we’re eating? We stuff our faces without unglueing our eyes from the screen even for a moment! Is this zombie-like behavior, or what?
 
In conclusion, I can’t think of one positive reason for anyone to watch TV, especially a child. In every respect, TV literally kills the innocence and potential of a child. They should be enjoying their afternoons running outside or using their limitless, G-d given imaginations. Childhood is such a short, precious gift. Let’s not take it away from them. Parents, if you want the best for your children, get rid of the TV. You won’t regret it.





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  3 Talkbacks for this article    See all talkbacks  
  1.
  I Understand
Racheli7/10/2012 2:17:11 PM
     
 
  2.
  now the problem turned out to be the smart phones (only subject)
hodayah8/30/2011 11:16:48 AM
     
 
  3.
  It's not that easy to do for people who recently became religious
Anzhela Zlotnik8/18/2011 4:40:10 AM
     
 

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