Day 24: Family Media Detox

Jim’s update:

I take the blame for my sons’ obsessive video game habits.

Ever since I got my first Coleco Telstar tennis/hockey/handball rig for Christmas in 1977, I have had some kind of gaming going on.  A few years later it was Intellivision; later still NES.  Today, in our household, we own a PS2, XBox 360, and a Wii, along with a few personal Gameboy-type devices.  (And if I had a quarter for every quarter I dropped into arcade machines, I’d have a lot of quarters.)

In moderation, I think playing video games with my sons can be time well-spent.  But “moderation,” I’m afraid, has proven to be an elusive concept in my life on many levels, including gaming.

I read this just this morning on the DIYFather website and it reminded me why we are detoxing:

According to a recent study of 1,178 children in the US, almost 9 percent of child gamers are pathologically or clinically “addicted” to playing video games.

However, 23 percent of youth say that they have felt “addicted to video games,” with about one-third of males and a little more than one in 10 females reporting the sensation, according to the survey by Harris Interactive.

Forty-four percent of the youth 8 to 18 also reported their friends are addicted to video games, the survey said. The average child 8 to 12 plays 13 hours of video games per week, while teens age 13 to 18 year play 14 hours of video games per week, according to the survey.

These statistics raise some interesting questions. While the majority of kids who play video games don’t become addicted, what does it say about our culture when one third of our boys have felt addicted to video games? How do video games and other stimulating products prepare our kids for the future? What child, after the excitement of 14 hours of video games each week, doesn’t get bored when faced with “spending time with grandma”, or some other activity that doesn’t provide intense stimulation?


Day 23: Family Media Detox

From the TV Turnoff Network:

-According to the A.C. Nielsen Co. the average American watches 3 hours and 46 minutes of TV each day (that’s more than 52 days of nonstop TV-watching per year).

-By the age of 65 the average American will have spent nearly nine years glued to the tube.

-Parents spend 38.5 minutes per week in meaningful conversation with their children is 38.5.

-The number of videos rented daily in the United States is six million while the number of public library items checked out daily is three million. -The average American child sees 200,000 violent acts on television by the time he or she reaches the age of 18.

-Eighty percent of Hollywood executives believe there is a link between TV violence and real-life violence.

-An average child sees 30,000 TV commercials in a year.

-By the time s/he reaches the age of 65, the average American will have seen two million TV commercials

-While 59 percent of Americans can name The Three Stooges, only 17 percent can name three Supreme Court Justices.

Day 22: Family Media Detox

A word to couples:  We are loving the effect of this experiment on our marriage.  Missy and I have always been blessed with remarkable compatibility, and I can speak for both of us when I say we truly are each other’s best friends.  There is no one with whom I more enjoy spending time, and she feels the same way about me.  But without the television and movies, we’ve had more meaningful time together as husband and wife than we’ve had in a long time.  Even the 10 minutes or so a night it takes to film our little videos have become a joyful time of creativity together.

If you feel you distant from your spouse, you may want to consider whether the quality of the time you spend together is enhanced or diminished by electronic amusements.  We’re glad we did!

Day 21: Family Media Detox

I read a warning in the Telegraph to social media users that certainly applied to me when I was still a Facebook aficionado.  I have no idea how many times I announced to the world at large via the Internet that I was on vacation with my family or out of town for the weekend.  It turns out miscreants, ne’er-do-wells, second-story men and all manner of rascals are gleaning a goldmine of helpful information by surveying status updates.  The article gave a rundown of a case in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire in the UK:

Peter Trower, 22, and Joseph McLennan, 18, monitored Facebook accounts waiting for the “perfect opportunity” to rob a home in the town.

Trower, it transpired, knew the victims’ daughter and had been to the three-bedroom house twice before. When he fell out with the family, he hatched a plan for “revenge” and, being a friend of theirs on Facebook, had access to their status updates.

When the family posted they were going away, the pair ransacked the      property and stole computers, jewellery, DVDs and a purse. They were    caught red-handed after being spotted by a neighbour. Both admitted      burglary and will be sentenced later.

Of course, we’ve been blogging on here about our upcoming vacation as well.


Day 20: Family Media Detox

As we explain in today’s video, Missy and I have decided to “cross the Rubicon” as it were.  I speak for both of us when I say that we feel good about this choice, but we also want to acknowledge that this is a matter of personal, spiritual conviction for us.  We don’t want anyone to interpret this as a legalistic condemnation of those who choose to go a different path.  We’re merely trying to demonstrate that what many seem to believe is impossible or unthinkable is really neither.

And please understand that we aren’t trying to hold ourselves out as paragons of self-denial, for that matter.  We are nothing of the sort…we are simply trying to encourage others who may be led in a similar direction.  And if that is you, our dear rubbernecker, we would love to hear from you!  Be sure to leave us a comment, or send us an email at

Day 19: Family Media Detox

From the Center for Screen-time Awareness at

Parents might know that sitting children in front of the television for hours at a time isn’t the best way to encourage intellectual growth. But a new study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine shows that simply having the TV on in the background can stifle interaction between parent and child, decreasing the number of words spoken and possibly slowing the development of a baby’s language skills. Scientists have long suspected that TV viewing can damage early development. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends avoiding exposure to television before an infant is two years old, a period when important cognitive changes take place. “We’ve known that television exposure during infancy is associated with language delays and attentional problems, but so far it has remained unclear why,” said lead researcher Dimitri Christakis. The researchers investigated by attaching sensors to both parents and their children between the ages of two months and four years. On sporadic days over a period of a month, the sensors recorded every word spoken or heard by the subjects. If a television was on, words emanating from the TV were counted, although researchers did not differentiate between whether subjects were actively watching the tube, or just had it on in the background as they went about other tasks. This technology allowed Christakis’ team to quantify exactly the degree to which TV-viewing can cripple parent-child communication: for every hour a television was turned on, babies heard 770 fewer words from an adult, the new study found. Conversational exchanges between baby and parent dropped 15% , as did the overall number of vocalizations made by children. That’s important because previous research has shown that the more words children hear, the better they become at speaking. The exchange of fewer words, therefore, could potentially cause a deficit in language skills. The effects of background TV could be far-reaching, since researchers say that nearly a third of households in the U.S. keep the boob tube turned on all the time. “The newborn brain is very much a work in progress. All that cognitive stimulation is critical to the underlying architecture that’s developing,” [Christakis] says. “Every word that babies hear, and every time they hear it, is extremely important.”

Day 18: Family Media Detox

In today’s video, Missy and I discuss a topic that never fails to be controversial: Modesty in dress. The Bible, in 1st Timothy 2:9-10, commands it. Paul wrote, “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.”

With seven daughters, we take this matter seriously. That’s why, in an effort to lead by example, I have vowed to never wear miniskirts, strapless evening gowns, or gownless evening straps.

I’m not talking legalism here – I’m addressing this from the perspective of a red-blooded American male: What passes for young women’s fashion today is looking increasingly like the employee uniforms at a whorehouse. The current trends of skin-tight and/or skin-baring styles serve only to objectify women and titillate men. Even more disturbing is the fact that this type of clothing is being aimed at younger and younger girls. For example, a few years ago Abercrombie & Fitch released a line of thong underwear marketed toward girls as young as 10 years old.

Do you not find this sick?

The exploitative commodification of women and the sexualization of children are symptoms of a culture that has not only coarsened but has become downright gangrenous.

We have always tried to communicate these truths to our daughters, but as Missy explains in today’s video, one of them surprised us by taking a bold personal stand on the issue.

Of course, the mainstream media/fashion industry/Hollywood entertainment complex foments these trends without compunction. Sex, as we all know, sells.

Any Christian husband and/or dad with a daughter needs to know that he is not loving the ladies in his family if he permits, or is passive about, provocative apparel. It’s time to man up, gents. Your wife and daughter are precious in the eyes of God – let’s never allow them to be cheapened in the eyes of men.