“Taming TV,” Ensign, July 1999, 70–71
“Turn that thing off!” My shrill voice echoed throughout our house—again! It seemed I was always nagging my sons to turn the television off. Though I was always pleased to see my children reading or playing, lately the television had become their preferred entertainment.
Like many parents, I had heard about the adverse effects of television. Was it my imagination, or were my three boys fighting more? Was our family arguing more often over TV programs? Were my children asking for more junk food and toys after watching slick advertising? The answer was yes. Something had to be done.
My husband and I decided to give out tickets for TV watching. We bought a big roll of admission tickets, such as might be used at a carnival, and gave each child a fixed number per week. Each ticket was worth 30 minutes of TV viewing.
Then during family home evening we discussed how television watching can be a positive experience and how it can also be a negative influence. Using the 13th article of faith [A of F 1:13] as our guide, we talked about what it means to seek after things that are “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy.” We discussed which shows might be appropriate to watch and which should be avoided, and we agreed on a few shows and videocassettes that could be watched for free. We also agreed that unused tickets could be turned in at the end of the week for 10 cents each.
Then we sat back and watched the week unfold, wondering if our plan would be successful in helping children make better TV choices. As the week wore on, we noticed less fighting over programs. In fact, the house became quieter and more peaceful. The boys began thoughtfully discussing which shows were worth a ticket and which could be given up.
At the end of the week, my husband and I were surprised when our children turned in all but two of their tickets. We assumed their initial cooperation would wear off, but the boys proved us wrong. During the following weeks our sons virtually gave up TV. Instead, they rediscovered basketball, bicycles, books, and board games. Best of all, they made this choice themselves.
Even six months later the boys were still watching very little TV. Thanks to TV tickets, television had finally taken a back seat in our home.—Lisa Ray Turner, Littleton, Colorado