How to Turn TV into a Positive Influence for Your Family

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I think I’m writing this post as a reminder for me more than anyone else. TV has always seemed to have it’s hold on our lives. It entertains my kids when I need to get things done. It entertains us when we’re bored. It’s just ALWAYS there like a friend beckoning to us to ‘come and play’, only this friend doesn’t always have the best influence on our kids and on our family.

If you’re like me, sometimes the ‘2 hours a day’ rule turns into 3 or 4 or even more! It can be so nice to have my children quietly entertained while I get things done. On the other hand, what price will I have to pay for that extra quiet time? I have noticed that even though tv entertains my kids, too much of it causes contention in my home. My children fight more and don’t get a long.

Why is this?how to turn tv into a positive influence for your family

Well, I’m not a professional child psychologist, but here is what I see. When my kids are watching too much tv, they are not interacting with each other and learning how to get a long. When they are watching mundane sitcoms or shows that,while not bad, do not uplift, inspire or teach, they are wasting their time and not learning life lessons.

So how do we change all of that? Do we just throw the television out and be done with it? I know some mothers who have done just that! If that’s what you feel is best for your family, then by all means, throw it to the curb! We must do what our hearts tell us. I don’t feel like that is the answer for my family, though. Here is MY answer:

Make TV work for us, rather than the other way around! A TV is an appliance, and just like any other appliance in my house, it needs to be our servant, not our master. It should be used in balance with all other good pursuits in our lives and should uplift, inspire and help teach us to be better.

In our church, we have what we call the 13 articles of faith. I was inspired by my sister-in-law while at her house one day when I saw the 13th article of faith posted right next to their tv. We have done the same in our house recently to remind us what kind of programming is appropriate in our home:

“We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.”

The key words here are virtuous, lovely, of good report, or praiseworthy. The question to ask is,

“Do we seek after these things?”

Now for the fun part. My family knows what is appropriate, but what tools do we have to help them FIND those wonderful shows that fit into what we feel is a POSITIVE influence for our family? Here are the things I have found to hep turn TV into a positive influence for MY family:

I was just about to throw our TV in the garbage because I was so fed up with the excess viewing and the damaging effect it was having on my kids. Instead, we decided to turn TV into a positive influence on our family!

  • Ditch the antenna and tv channels. I know that there is wonderful shows on normal tv channels or cable, especially. Here’s the thing though. Most local channels have commercials, and I have found that the world is getting to a point that  the commercials are not family friendly most times. What’s the point in watching an uplifting program with my kids if I have to tell them to shut their eyes or turn off the tv during a commercial? (Carl’s Jr. especially is famous for their horrible commercials.) We used to have a HULU subscription because the commercials were short and usually just corny rather than inappropriate. Such is not the case anymore and I have canceled our subscription.
  • Netflix. Netflix can be good or bad depending on how you use it.  We have chosen to keep Netflix because of the huge selection they have of family friendly shows and Christian movies. They also give you the ability to set your parental controls. While it is still not the perfect set-up, we make it work for us. We have chosen, as a family, the shows that we feel match our family values, and added them to the “YOUR LIST’ section on Netflix. If my kids want to watch something that is not on our list, we talk about it and evaluate if it we should add it. Also, my favorite part about Netflix is NO COMMERCIALS!!
  • Roku. I love Roku for several reasons. I can add ONLY the channels I want for our family, and set a pass code so that no one can install any new channels without it. Also, Roku has some more family friendly channels that other streaming devices do not. I am a “Mormon” and I absolutely love The Mormon Channel because it is overflowing with  wonderful family commercials, shows, and even a 24/7 uplifting music station that brings a great feeling into our home! Here is a list of other religious channels on Roku and here is a list of their kids and family channels. We have also used the Feel’n channel because I love the Hallmark hall of fame movies and they have a huge selection of them, (but not ALL of their shows are family friendly so use with caution) *disclaimer: I have not reviewed all of the roku channels, I only give you links to these lists for your reference. Use your own discretion in deciding what is appropriate for your family!
  • Amazon. (also available on Roku) We also like Amazon because they also have great parental controls and we like to purchase great digital versions of our favorite shows from them and have access to them on our account without having to worry about our kids scratching dvd’s. Here are some of the things I have purchased: Bill Nye, Leap Frog, Liberty’s Kids, & Magic School bus.
  • VidAngel. This is something I recently discovered and I’m really excited about it! Don’t you just hate it when a great movie comes out, but you can’t watch it with your family because of that ONE scene or the language or violence? It could be a very inspirational movie, but unwatchable because of inappropriate “additions” that Hollywood decided to add. VidAngel not only makes it possible for you to watch movies from the comfort of your own home (no more redbox returns!!), they also give you the opportunity to edit out any scenes, language, or violence before you purchase it. You can watch VidAngel on Roku, Apple TV, or Chromecast.
  • Time. No matter how great or uplifting the content is on our TV, it can still be damaging to my family if it is watched excessively. This is something I have to watch each and every day. It’s so easy to have it on and not even realize how much time has gone by. 2 hours a day is our family goal right now. Sometimes we watch less and sometimes it’s more (when I’m sick in bed, all rules go out the window! It’s just survival of the fittest!)

I hope if you are reading this and you have ideas that I haven’t shared, that you will comment and share! I would LOVE to hear more ideas and I’m sure other parents would too! Best of luck in making TV a positive influence in your home!