Has the television taken over the lives of all the members in your family? It takes no effort at all to get into this pattern. As Elder M. Russell Ballard noted:

Good families face very significant challenges in controlling the use of television and videotapes in their homes. I agree with Dr. Victor B. Cline when he said, I am convinced by a vast amount of research that the images, fantasies, and models which we are repeatedly exposed to in advertisements, entertainment, novels, motion pictures, and other works of art can and do ? affect the self-image and, later, the behavior of nearly all young people and adults too. ?

Do you accept this challenge or do you passively plop down in front of the boob tube ? and let the day just drift away? To combat the latter, I have collected a number of methods to help fend off the power of the remote control. Perhaps one will help your family find better forms of recreation.

  • The best idea of all is to be an example. Begging, pleading, and whining will always be less effective than a parent who always has something better to do than camp out on the couch. Read, play games, work out, talk anything that you have a passion for has great potential to rub off on your children ?if they can see you doing it.
  • Call on whatever powers you have at your disposal to cause lightening to strike at or very near your home with force enough to blow out any or all of the components in your television that are necessary for proper function.
    This happened to us twice within just a few months last year (even with surge suppressors on our electronics). Sounds nasty, but it turned out to be a blessing! When the TV, the VCR, the modem, and the motherboard are all lost in the blink of an eye, you may find yourself spending a few days in severe withdrawal (even for a non-television-co-dependent family like ours). After the initial shock (pardon the pun) wears off, you will all find yourselves doing lots of other things that are actually fun and interesting. Who would have known!!
    The result was so positive, that I was less than anxious to have the old box return from the shop after it ?s repair. The second incident actually made us a televisionless family, until my folks visited from out of town and couldn ?t bear to miss seeing BYU in the Copper Bowl!
    If forces of nature aren ?t cooperating you could take it upon yourself to remove the temptation. Put it in a closet temporarily, or put it in the attic. Have a TV-free week or two.
  • If complete removal of the TV isn ?t desired, an easy way to reduce the amount of time it consumes it to remove it from the center of your home ?s focus. Instead of having it in the living room, or even the family room, keep the TV in a den or an out of the way spare bedroom. Bring out interesting things (puzzles, books, games) to draw people to the other, TV-free rooms.
  • A fairly simple method is to allow only a limited number of viewing hours per day, per child. This method would be easy to implement with an only child, but could become a logistic nightmare in a large family. It may also invite semantic arguments of the But Suzy was watching Lassy. That wasn ?t my half hour. She turned it on. I was just in the room coloring ? variety.
  • Use parental controls to password-protect the television.
  • Television can be looked on as a privilege that must be earned. Some parents have their children pay a small sum out of their allowance in order to watch television.
  • Years ago I read of an ingenious system. A basket is filled with many small papers. On each paper is written either a chore or an activity. Each person is required to draw (at random) a piece of paper, and do whatever it says, in order to earn 15 or 30 minutes of viewing time. The listed items are not punishments or things that are terribly difficult. More than anything they are diversions, ones which often ends up being so interesting that the person forgets about the TV all together. Examples are: clean out the silverware drawer; run around the block; read a story to a younger sibling; jump on the trampoline for 20 minutes; write in your journal, etc.
  • If the TV ever becomes a big problem in our home, here ?s a method I ?m sure I ?ll try. At the beginning of each week, the family holds a council. As part of this planning session, each person gets to go through the local TV schedule and choose the program(s) they would like to watch. Once everyone has written down all their choices, they contract to watch only those shows.
    Although a bit time consuming in the planning stages, it makes people make a conscious choice, based on how interesting a show is to them. This would eliminate the nasty channel-surfing habit, when someone is just bored and looking for something ?anything ?to fill the time.
    Ah, but their is a bit more. While you may not watch something that you did not initially select, you are also not allowed to skip any programs that you contracted for! If you decide that you really want to watch the Greg-goes-hippy ? episode of The Brady Bunch, and your friends invite you to go swimming just when it is about to start ?well, that ?s just too darn bad! You can ?t break your contract. This last part is my favorite. It forces you to be very selective in your choices!
  • The last suggestion I came upon involved a bit of reverse psychology. All you have to do to get your kids to stop watching TV so much, ? reasoned one mother, is to use it as a punishment. ? Now while I haven ?t personally field-tested this approach, I can think of a couple of kids not mine of course for whom this would be quite effective. One hour of forced MTV for major infractions might do the trick!

Now that you're clean and sober, are you bored out of your minds? If so, pick up a copy of 365 TV-Free Activities You Can Do With Your Child to get your head wrapped around a more active mode. Or, for an LDS perspective, look at John Bytheway's Turn Off the TV and Get a Life!

Chances are you'll find activities you forgot you enjoyed!