Parents Warned About TV Viewing

Cardinal Antonelli Puts Tips Into a Pastoral Letter

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FLORENCE, Italy, JAN. 17, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Ennio Antonelli has warned parents about how much television can affect interpersonal relations, use of time, ways of thinking and choices of behavior.



In a pastoral letter for Easter, the archbishop of Florence offers hints on to how to live with that "fixed guest that is the television," which "occupies more than one room and is active for too many hours a day."

While it is on, it "fills minds with stories, personalities, models, scales of values, advertising," and "suggestions through continual sensations and emotions, to the detriment of reflection and the critical capacity," the prelate wrote.

Excessive use of television not only can create "psychic dependence," but robs one of "precious time" for "important activities, meetings and conversations with people, for being together, playing together, going out together," he noted.

"Paradoxically, while contact with things spreads, one remains a prisoner of loneliness," the cardinal stated.

Television especially exerts its influence on minors, showing itself as a "powerful means of education or miseducation," he added. The small screen, "influences their inclinations, affectivity, attitudes and capabilities, anxieties and fears, ... given that by nature they tend to learn by looking and imitating."

Hence there is a risk of "spiritual contamination" that children and youngsters can suffer, who receive "fatuous models to imitate," or are introduced "without any gradation in the emotional and sexual world of adults."

"God is absent or marginalized in almost all television programs and because of this, tends to become irrelevant also in the thought and life of many people," lamented the archbishop of Florence.

Yet, the television "is not a window open directly on reality," he said, and this is what parents must explain to their children, as TV also offers a "partial and artificial point of view."

Cardinal Antonelli noted that the Pope has said that "even the youngest children can be taught that the media are produced by people who wish to transmit messages that invite to the purchase of products and ways of behavior that are not good and that are detrimental to them."

"Children must not believe and do all that they see," the cardinal wrote, quoting John Paul II.

To make "moderate, critical, vigilant and prudent use of the television, Cardinal Antonelli suggested that parents "strictly limit the amount of time dedicated to television," and that they themselves be "examples of television sobriety."

He further suggests the appropriateness of placing the television -- and also the computer -- only in common parts of the home and that, insofar as possible, parents watch television with their children, taking advantage of the moment to "play down" the program if it proves harmful to proper education and "reactivating dialogue" with the youngsters.