Negative influences don’t come only from television – they can come from many sources. While some sources of negativity may be hard to avoid, such as family members who sport a perpetual bad attitude, there’s no reason to actively seek out and give attention to media personalities who thrive on creating fear and controversy.
Have you ever reproved your children for speaking rudely to a friend or sibling, or wondered where they learned to use ridicule in an effort to make someone else look or feel bad? You may find the answer in the rude rantings of radio talk-show hosts who use ad hominem attacks and ridicule, rather than serious, intelligent communication, to gain support from an unthinking audience. If your children hear these “adults” communicating with name-calling, insults, and mocking, you needn’t be surprised when they try these tactics at home.
If you don’t listen to talk radio, but have news on during the day, you’re likely to find that constant repetition of bad news – rising prices, falling wages, home foreclosures, murders, random crimes, natural disasters– leaves everyone stressed and on edge. Children don’t necessarily listen to what is said, but they definitely understand the tone of concern and alarm, and feel the stress.
There are many valid reasons for living a quiet and peaceable life, but it’s particularly important for homeschooling families. Fear and stress short-circuit the learning process, and noise, all by itself, has been proven to dramatically increase stress and reduce the ability to think clearly (visit the Noise Pollution Clearinghouse for detailed information). If your goal is to create a home where learning happens, it’s a good idea to limit noise, particularly negative noise.
I have discovered that our home is more serene and happy when the only news source is the newspaper. It’s quiet, easily portable, and doesn’t assault us with excessive drama and repetition. We can read it at our leisure, and put it down when someone more important (such as one of our dear children) wants to talk with us. We don’t have shush them in order not to miss anything. Frankly, I’ve heard very few things in the news that would be worth ignoring my family to hear, and it seems a bit odd to think of placing a disembodied radio voice at a higher level of priority than people I love!
Is there a chance that you’ll miss something important? It’s highly unlikely. By the time the second plane struck the World Trade Center, I had already heard about it. Even if you’re not in on breaking news, anything of importance will show up in the newspaper, and is likely to have the virtue of being edited and placed into historic context. You won’t have to waste time listening to news people talking to one another, repeating the same facts and figures over and over while waiting for something new to happen.
If you’ve been in the habit of having something on all day, I suggest reading about the harmful effects of constant noise, and reconsidering your habit. If you must have something, or you want to substitute something positive for negative radio shows and news, choose something without words such as a CD or DVD of nature sounds (water sounds are particularly soothing and thought-friendly) or gentle classical music. These are easy to find and usually inexpensive. However, if you have any space at all around your home, you may enjoy planting bird-friendly shrubs and trees to encourage your very own nature sounds.
Your children will absorb what they hear. There’s absolutely no need to serve up dark messages of impending disaster, or tolerate crude, rude ridicule as a substitute for warm, loving, intelligent conversation. Remember – what goes in is what comes out.
If you’ve unthinkingly permitted rude and negative voices to invade your home or car, you can expect to hear those thoughts and speech patterns reflected in your dear little ones. I recommend the better way found in Philippians 4:8– Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.