The Most Overlooked Consequence of Television on Children

The television in today’s home can mean so many things. For some, it’s a status symbol. For others, it’s instant babysitting when a parent needs a break. Most of us also wouldn’t dispute the entertainment value. But, there’s a hidden consequence not talked about often which may have you think twice before your child watches the next latest greatest show.

The hidden secret behind watching television is that it slowly keeps us from building our character.  William Shakespeare once said, “All the world’s a stage and all the people are merely players.”  But, he said it at a time before the television was invented.  Nowadays, people don’t have to be players on a stage.  All they have to do is turn on a television and watch other players at work.  Reality TV anyone?

But what does that have to do with building our character?  Two of the ways people build character is the process of cleaning up the “messes” in their lives and building on the positive things.  Keep in mind; I am using the term “messes” pretty loosely.  This could be as simple as a child cleaning a mess at a dinner table to an adult working on their marriage (which can get awfully messy).  Obviously, there are a lot of “messes” in between.  Each time we clean one of life’s little messes; we are slowly building our character.  Think about someone you know who had great character.  Next- think about the messes in his/her life that had to be overcome.  Most successful people we know have remarkable stories.

Now, let’s get back to the television.  When a child (or anyone else) watches television, it serves as an escape to the things in life which need our attention (ie- a child’s homework, playing with friends, family bonding time, a hobby which could be a full time business if we only had the time).  In moderation, watching television can be healthy to a certain degree.  But, when the time watching television goes unchecked, the neglected messes left attended can multiply or cause undue stress once the television is turned off.  That’s because once the television has been turned off, reality kicks back in although precious time has been lost.

Building character takes time, patience, and desire.  In essence, when children watch a lot of television, those three things are taken away.  There’s a reason we call people who watch a lot of television “couch potatoes.”

The best advice I can give to parents is this.  Chart how much time television is taking from the life of your child for a day/week.  Decide how much of that time was excessive, then determine if the time could have been spent doing something more worthwhile.  I can pretty well guarantee you that if you chart this correctly, the results will be surprising.

I appreciate all of you who have stopped by to read my article.  If you like it, please feel free to pass it along to others.  I will return next Friday with another post.  Until then, I wish nothing but the best for you and your family!


  1. Dit says:

    So TRUE! I am in my 60's and have seen my children/grandchildren and others grow and prosper….experience builds character….good, bad and indifferent! Thank you so much for bringing this subject to light and thanks for letting Dr. Laura share it with her emailers!

  2. Design Mama3 says:

    I agree with u wholeheartedly. There was a time in our family life where we were weaned off of tv. We just watched a limited amount on the weekend. However, over the last 6 months (we recently moved across country) we have began to watch more and more, and I do see the effects on all of us. I have explained to my boys that they are being robbed of developing the talents that God has given them because you can not hone a talent if u spend no time practicing. There is only so much time in the day–either spend time working the talent or watching the tv. I am going to lead by example. I just told my boys that I am giving up the reality shows that I have been watching, and give more time to my talents (ie teaching, writing and interior design). Your article is right on time. Thank You!!