POISON IN A BOX 

 

"If we truly thought that TV. had no impact on anyone, would we be spending billions of dollars on television advertising? If commercials have an effect, wouldn't other messages?"

The above is the statement of a child and family professor, Dr. Greer Fox (Quoted from the Tennessee Alumnus, Spring 1994). To most people, this statement will not convey anything new to them. It will merely reaffirm what they always believed - that TV. has an impact on the viewer. However, what almost everybody fails to realise is the extent to which the TV. penetrates into the minds of the viewers, especially children.

It was this very level of impact that prompted the writing of this article. The mind-boggling extent to which TV influences the mind can be clearly appreciated by the innocent reply of a five year old child to a question put by his teacher. This incident sends shivers down the spine and leaves the mind numb with shock. For a mu'min, it will pull away the ground from under his feet and leave him speechless when we consider the frightening implications of such an incident. This incident is reported by the teacher herself . She writes: " I asked one of the boys in my class: " Who is the most powerful, Allah or the Power Rangers ? " Without batting an eye, he exclaimed with childish certainty : " The Power Rangers!" When I told him that Allah was the Most Powerful and that the Power Rangers were weak in sight of Muslims, the boy was greatly disappointed. I was greatly disturbed by the depths of regard that these pupils  have for TV. stars." Let us read the above several times. Yes, this IS the extent that TV. erodes the mind, especially the impressionable minds of little children No, this is NOT an isolated incident. Rather it is a rude reflection of what perceptions have build up in the minds of other children who are equally exposed to the imaan-killing poisons of the TV. Some children verbally express these perceptions. Others may not speak them, but they act them out in various ways much later in their lives. Nor should it be felt that this devastating effect of television is restricted to little children. Teenagers and adults are all seriously affected in a most subtle manner by this medium.

Having touched on this topic, let us delve a little deeper into analysing the various poisons that are contained in this box. The information contained here consist of the findings of American researchers after years of work. Hence this is the case of hearing the facts " from the horse's mouth."

PROBLEMS

Among the numerous problems that have afflicted our society, perhaps the most worrying and frightening are the problems that have afflicted the youth. The problems of the youth are more alarming since these very youths will be the parents and leaders of tomorrow. The rate of juvenile crime, drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, etc need no elaboration. However, most people blankly refuse to accept that the television has played a major role in creating this chaos. But here we have it, from those very those very people who have lit the fire which has now become a raging inferno. The President of the Academy of Television , Arts and Sciences, Richard H. Frank, admits: " Just as television was once an ENABLER of some of the nation's drug problem, I believe to some extent it may today be an ENABLER of some of the problems of the youth. " Often parents come crying, wanting to know: "But why does my child behave like this?" Perhaps they have received the answer.

TIME

When one considers the average time that a child spends in front of the box, it is not difficult to understand how the TV can be an enabler of some of the problems facing society. According to Baehr, the ex-director of the Television Centre at City University of New York, the average child watches 15 000 (fifteen thousand) to 40 000 hours of television by the time he's 17. He goes to school for about 11 000 and spends about 2000 hours with his parents. (Hollywood Reporter, March 4-6, 1994). Can we imagine what rot settles into the mind of that child after so many ours in front of the box? If we cannot, then let us read the incident of the five year old child again!

" Baby sitter"

Often the best thing that parents can find to keep their children occupied is the television. In fact, some parents will be heard justifying this with the words: " At least it keeps them off the street." However, the television is no less dangerous than being on the streets. Rather, it much more dangerous. Dr. Greer Fox says that when children are at home watching television, parents feel they are protected from the dangers of the outside world.. This is so because those dangers are " more apparent than the subtle messages that kids receive on television." But it is the " subtle messages" wherein the greatest danger lies for a mu'min. They attack the Imaan directly.

"Educational"

In all this time spent in front of the box, what exactly does this " educational tool" ( as many like to call it) teach your child ? According to the same Baehr, the " educational theories" of television called for a three step process. 

(1) Modelling behaviour. 
(2) Repeating that behaviour.
(3) Re-inforcing that behaviour. 

He then concludes by saying: " That is exactly what television is doing. It models cruelty and violence, and it repeats that behaviour. By the time he is 17, the average child sees 200 000 to 400 000 sex acts on TV., 100 000 TO 200 000 acts of violence and 17 000 to 33 000 murders." ( The figures are not a misprint).

 In the light of the above, is it any surprise that a survey conducted by a U.S. group, Children now, found that " sex on TV. encourages kids to have sex before they are ready, and that some shows ENCOURAGE kids to disrespect their parents. Also, some shows send the message that "being bad is cool." In another survey conducted by the same group, 750 youth between the ages of 10 to 16 were interviewed. 62% said that sex on TV. influenced their peers to have sexual relations when they were too young.

HEART ATTACK

Television has not even spared the health of it's ardent viewers. The harmful effect on the eyes is well known. According to the research of American psychologist Herbert Krugman, " watching TV. scrambles your brains" ( Natal Mercury 29-7-86). A Pennsylvania State University researcher, Dr. Paul Kettl has found a "dramatically high connections between the rise of TV. and a rise in depression..." He found that as the presence of television grew, so did depression (Daily News). Now new research has found that watching TV. can bring about and also aggravate heart problems. The study found that " violent scenes raise blood pressure and increase the level of stress hormones in the body. High blood pressure taxes the heart muscles and stress hormones suppress the immune system." The researchers monitored 18 men and 22 women. After the subjects had watched some violent scenes from a TV. program, their urine levels of the three stress hormones - adrenaline ,nor adrenaline and cortisol - were measured. The researchers found that "women had higher levels of cortisol, the most damaging of the three stress hormones. Cortisol suppresses the immune system and prolongs the effect of the other two stress hormones." 

SOLUTION

There are many facts and statistics of this nature in the documented reports of Western researchers. In the interests of brevity, they have been left out. Nevertheless, by now any sincere reader would be asking the crucial question: " What is the solution?" The solution can be summed up in four words: " FIRST ATTACK. THEN DEFEND." It may sound like very strong words, but let us consider the situation realistically. If an intruder has come into your home, grab hold of your child, and is about to strangle him, what would you do first? Will you first run to the phone and call the builder to install strong security gate? Or will you simply grab the whatever available and attack the intruder in order to save your child? The intruder we have here is one... - That teaches your child that the Power Rangers is (Allah Ta'aala forbid) the most powerful! - It teaches your child to disrespect you, and in the words of the researchers, " to be disruptive and destructive." 


- It shows your child 200 000 sex acts by age 17 and teaches him/her to engage in pre-marital sexual activity.
- It exposes your children to 100 000 acts of violence and 17000 murders by that age.
- It "scrambles the brains" and causes depression.
- It adversely affects your health and that of your family.

This intruder is whacking away at the body and soul of your entire family. What will you do first? Phone your doctor for an appointment? Call your local; Imaam to speak to your child about respect for parents? FIRST COURAGEOUSLY AND BRAVELY GET RID OF THE INTRUDER. The precedent of this has already been set. According to a Daily News report, " dozens or possibly even hundreds of television sets have flown out of Bombay's tower blocks." The "tele-bashers who are the followers of a local Muslim preacher" are " heaving their sets out of the window, hacking them to splinters of glass and plastic, burning or simply selling them." According to one "tele-basher," Abida Begum, the reason for this was: "our children were being corrupted." It is thus time that we follow this noble example.

THEN DEFEND. 

Now by all means install the security gate and the alarm system. The defence system in this case is the following: 

1. INTRODUCE DAILY TA'LEEM (LEARNING AND TEACHING DEEN) IN THE HOME.

To learn one chapter of the knowledge of Deen is more rewarding than 1000 rakaats of nafil salaah. The angels surround the gatherings of Ilm. According to the Hadith, the one who treads the path of seeking the knowledge of Deen, Allah Ta'aala ease the road to Janna for him. Read the virtues of the various deeds to your family. This will create the urge to practice upon those deeds. With ta'leem, the darkness of ignorance will be dispelled. Contact your local Aalim for further guidance in this regard. 

2. ENGAGE DAILY IN THE RECITATION OF THE QUR'AN. 

Upon the recitation of each LETTER, one is blessed with ten rewards. Recitation of the Qur'an creates nur (spiritually illuminates) the heart. The evil jinns and shaitaans flee from a home where the Qur'an is recited regularly. The home wherein the Qur'an is recited shines unto the inhabitants of the earth (At-Targheeb). Regularly read an authentic Tafseer of the Qur'an (such as Tafseer-e-Usmani) and learn what the Qur'an says to you. 

3. ENGAGE DAILY IN THE ZIKR (REMEMBRANCE) OF ALLAH TA'AALA. 

Allah Ta'aala says: " Behold, with the remembrance of Allah do the hearts get peace." ( Al-Ra'd:24) In another aayah Alla Ta'aala says: " Remember Me and I will remember you" (Baqarah). Zikr will grant one solace and peace. It will connect one to Allah Ta'aala. It will cleanse the heart of spiritual illnesses. Recite durood upon Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) daily in abundance. According to the Hadith, when durud is recited, an angel conveys it to Rasulullah(Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) together with mentioning the name of the one who recited it as well as the name of his or her father." (Virtues of Durood). By reciting durood excessively, our names will be mentioned repeatedly to Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) when the angels convey each durood to him. What an honour this is!

4. JOIN THE COMPANY OF THE PIOUS AND SPEND YOUR TIME IN THE ACTIVITIES OF DEEN.

Like evil company will make one evil, pious company will likewise make one pious. Engage in the effort of rectifying oneself and encourage others at the same time By making an effort for Deen, Deen will become valuable to us.These aspects will make life itself more meaningful. It will also enable one to attain the everlasting bounties of Jannah. May Allah Ta'aala grant us the ability to throw out the intruder and adopt the solution. 

Aameen.