Roald Dahl’s poem ‘Television’ – written in 1964 when there were only three black and white channels which stopped broadcasting in the night time.
Even more relevant these days:
The most important thing we’ve learned,
So far as children are concerned,
Is never, NEVER, NEVER let
Them near your television set —
Or better still, just don’t install
The idiotic thing at all.
In almost every house we’ve been,
We’ve watched them gaping at the screen.
They loll and slop and lounge about,
And stare until their eyes pop out.
(Last week in someone’s place we saw
A dozen eyeballs on the floor.)
They sit and stare and stare and sit
Until they’re hypnotised by it,
Until they’re absolutely drunk
With all that shocking ghastly junk.
Oh yes, we know it keeps them still,
They don’t climb out the window sill,
They never fight or kick or punch,
They leave you free to cook the lunch
And wash the dishes in the sink —
But did you ever stop to think,
To wonder just exactly what
This does to your beloved tot?
IT ROTS THE SENSE IN THE HEAD!
IT KILLS IMAGINATION DEAD!
IT CLOGS AND CLUTTERS UP THE MIND!
IT MAKES A CHILD SO DULL AND BLIND
HE CAN NO LONGER UNDERSTAND
A FANTASY, A FAIRYLAND!
HIS BRAIN BECOMES AS SOFT AS CHEESE!
HIS POWERS OF THINKING RUST AND FREEZE!
HE CANNOT THINK — HE ONLY SEES!
‘All right!’ you’ll cry. ‘All right!’ you’ll say,
‘But if we take the set away,
What shall we do to entertain
Our darling children? Please explain!’
We’ll answer this by asking you,
‘What used the darling ones to do?
‘How used they keep themselves contented
Before this monster was invented?’
Have you forgotten? Don’t you know?
We’ll say it very loud and slow:
THEY … USED … TO … READ! They’d READ and READ,
AND READ and READ, and then proceed
To READ some more. Great Scott! Gadzooks!
One half their lives was reading books!
The nursery shelves held books galore!
Books cluttered up the nursery floor!
And in the bedroom, by the bed,
More books were waiting to be read!
Such wondrous, fine, fantastic tales
Of dragons, gypsies, queens, and whales
And treasure isles, and distant shores
Where smugglers rowed with muffled oars,
And pirates wearing purple pants,
And sailing ships and elephants,
And cannibals crouching ’round the pot,
Stirring away at something hot.
(It smells so good, what can it be?
Good gracious, it’s Penelope.)
The younger ones had Beatrix Potter
With Mr. Tod, the dirty rotter,
And Squirrel Nutkin, Pigling Bland,
And Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle and-
Just How The Camel Got His Hump,
And How the Monkey Lost His Rump,
And Mr. Toad, and bless my soul,
There’s Mr. Rat and Mr. Mole-
Oh, books, what books they used to know,
Those children living long ago!
So please, oh please, we beg, we pray,
Go throw your TV set away,
And in its place you can install
A lovely bookshelf on the wall.
Then fill the shelves with lots of books,
Ignoring all the dirty looks,
The screams and yells, the bites and kicks,
And children hitting you with sticks-
Fear not, because we promise you
That, in about a week or two
Of having nothing else to do,
They’ll now begin to feel the need
Of having something to read.
And once they start — oh boy, oh boy!
You watch the slowly growing joy
That fills their hearts. They’ll grow so keen
They’ll wonder what they’d ever seen
In that ridiculous machine,
That nauseating, foul, unclean,
Repulsive television screen!
And later, each and every kid
Will love you more for what you did.
by Roald Dahl
The purpose of this post is to attract the parents’ attention to the effects of TV violence on children and to spread knowledge among them in order to help lessen the problems that children might have as a consequence of seeing such violence.
It’s obvious that parents are always concerned with the well-being of their children and try their best to provide them with the utmost suitable environment for their growth and development. That’s what parents are responsible for in front of Allah (swt), because they’ll be asked about their upbringing, nurturing, and education. Nonetheless, parents frequently lose control over their children’s safe atmosphere, specially in the presence of all this technology nowadays.
Threats are Everywhere
With all the threats that surround us today, children are the most vulnerable. That’s due to the fact that they still don’t have the mental abilities to analyze the data and input that their brain receives whenever they encounter new things. For this reason, parents are there to help them figure stuff out and guide them to what’s right. However, if parent’s aren’t careful enough, they might be causing their children to unsafely get exposed to inevitable threats they are better off without.
Children have Sensitive Personalities
Like we’re saying, children are known for their unstable personality; they are affected by everything that happens around them. And in the light of all that’s happening around the world, almost everyone is trying to keep up to date with the world’s news, that includes parents who have children. One of the things these parents are not aware of when they are watching news programs, is that their children are likely to be around watching as well. On the other hand, some parents are also interested in watching action and horror movies, and their inattention may end up letting the children watch these kinds of movies with or without them. These programs, whether the news or inappropriate movies, might show content that children are not supposed to see but, if they do, will affect them either by arousing their curiosity to imitate anything they observe, or by making them frightened by what they see.
Imitation is one of the characteristics of childhood. Children tend to imitate everyone and everything new they see, even if it is wrong. That is why we see girls imitating their mothers by pretending to cook or by wearing their high heels, and boys imitating their fathers as well. So, when children sit next to their parents while they are watching TV, their attention will obviously be grabbed by certain scenes that show violence, and knowing that children have to examine everything before they become familiar with it, they might decide to try the violence scene without realizing what the consequences could be. For example, when the news programs present certain crimes or murders that happened, the child might copy what he sees, he might hurt himself or anyone else. Therefore, most of the time, such imitations lead to drastic results, because the child is unable to differentiate between what’s right or wrong, what is harmful or not, and what is good or evil.
Moreover, children might get very scared and terrified when they see this violence. For instance, when a child watches how wars are happening and how planes and cannons are destroying many homes and killing many people, he will be horrified by what he sees, and eventually these things will be printed in his mind and will be part of his personality later on. In addition, many children cannot sleep and have nightmares when they observe violence and scary stuff. Hence, they will give their parents a hard time at night. Also, children have a wide imagination that will make them, apparently, see things in the dark because of the stored violent images, like imagining that someone is coming to kill them or that a thief is robbing the house. As a result the child might turn out to be a coward, have a weak personality, and maybe have some mental problems.
Childhood is Delicate, Be Alert
We should admit that childhood is a very delicate stage of life, that is why a child’s life should be full of happy, fun and enjoyable things, and clear of everything that is violent and scary. So, to every parent who cares about his children’s life and personality: keep your kids away from news programs and unsuitable movies, and make sure that they enjoy every part of this stage because it is the foundation of everyone’s life.
Don’t Forget About Adolescence
Just as childhood is very important, adolescence is likewise critical and care-demanding. That’s why you shouldn’t leave adolescents grow in cyberspace, as it poses similar threats on them like any other technology these days. You should also encourage them to improve their academic achievements by acquiring the good habit of taking notes. This could boost their academic performances for sure and they would be actively learning instead of just passively depending on the internet to get their homework done. It’s also very effective to try to help them stay motivated even when they don’t feel like it because it will have a positive impact on their everyday attitude.
Your Responsibility as a Parent
As parents, you have a great deal of responsibilities toward your children. You owe it to your children to keep them protected and comfortable. Allah (swt) says in Surah At-Tahrim, Verse 6:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا قُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ وَأَهْلِيكُمْ نَارًا وَقُودُهَا النَّاسُ وَالْحِجَارَةُ عَلَيْهَا مَلَائِكَةٌ غِلَاظٌ شِدَادٌ لَّا يَعْصُونَ اللَّهَ مَا أَمَرَهُمْ وَيَفْعَلُونَ مَا يُؤْمَرُونَ
O, Believers Save yourselves and your dependents from the fire whose fuel are humans and the stones.
So, when a child of yours starts to adopt a certain way of life, it’ll either be a virtuous alteration that will change him into a good human being or a wicked alteration that will change him into a degraded individual. And whatever he turns into is fairly reliant on the upbringing he receives from you. The obligation you have in raising your children is highly essential. That’s why the greatest favor you could do for your children is show them how to be good, well-mannered, faithful, friendly, righteous, generous, just, wise, hard-working muslims, and demonstrate to them that their reference in life is the Qur’an and Sunnah because it’ll teach them everything they need to know in order to live a peaceful and honorable life.
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