In this second installment of my “no TV” series, I want to be clear. First, it’s not sinful to watch TV and you’re not a bad Christian if you do. I chose to stop because it was taking over my life. If you can balance your time and not abuse TV, it may not be a problem for you. However, I hope in sharing my experience you might see some negative effects of TV on your life you didn’t even realize were there.
Second, not all TV is the same. There’s a big difference between an educational WW2 documentary and Jersey Shore. I rarely watched TV for education; I preferred to not think. So, in addition to being more present with myself and God, connecting more with others, and putting others first, here are more benefits to giving up TV.
4) No more guilt for watching questionable things. Many movies and shows have great acting, music, and plots, but also questionable material. They may have a great overall message, but the women are dressed immodestly, there’s periodic foul language, and I’m exposed to dark scenes and themes I would never be exposed to if not for TV. On the one hand, I had my rationalizations. “But God it’s not THAT much cussing and violence. It’s got a good overall message! I can just look away when the women wear skimpy stuff.”
On the other, I had God’s word: “…I will walk within my house in the integrity of my heart. I will set no worthless thing before my eyes…” (Psalm 101:2-3). “Whatever is pure, lovely, good repute, excellent, and worthy of praise, dwell on these things.” (Phil. 4:8). “Abstain from every appearance of evil.” (1 Thess. 5:22). I’m sick of having those fights in my conscience! Without TV, I don’t have to anymore!
5) Better sleep. Just Google the effects of blue light on our brains. Often I’d use TV to “unwind” before bed. Research shows 2/3 of adults do the same thing, so I’m not alone. The problem is, God set our body clocks to the rise and fall of the sun. Night time signals our bodies to produce melatonin for sleep, but blue light from TV prevents melatonin production. Even if you fall asleep right away after turning off the TV, the blue light delays REM and disrupts sleep quality.
Aside from blue light’s effects, I can’t tell you how many times my body was ready for bed, but I stayed up because a show left me with a killer cliffhanger! “I can’t go to bed now, I gotta see what happens!” 40 minutes later and now there’s a new cliffhanger! Plus, if the show was exciting, instead of relaxing before bed my adrenalin was surging! Without TV, I let the moon and stars do their work and unwind by sitting peacefully with God and my thoughts.
6) More engagement with God’s world. As a kid, I’d complain to my dad, “I’m bored!” His classic answer? “Go outside.” There’s something about going outside and engaging with God’s world that invokes wonder and creativity. However, with the endless options of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, I never had to be bored! Which also meant I rarely went outside. Why take a walk when I can…not? Why go do yard work or clean the garage or play basketball with the kids in the neighborhood? When God created us, He put us in a garden! He set us in nature because that’s where we thrive and come alive! I loved my 4K TV, but it’s nothing compared to the real thing!
When you lay under the stars, feel the coolness of the breeze, behold the wonder of a sunset, there’s an inspiring sense of connection with your Creator you can’t get even with 4K. “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands.” (Psalm 19:1). “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen through what has been made.” (Rom. 1:20). How sad that I’ve watched countless people on TV go outside to enjoy God’s planet while resigning myself to live vicariously through them. I have legs! I have my health! I need to listen to my dad, turn off the TV, and go outside!
Stay tuned for more benefits of no TV… next time on “Life with the Living Word”!