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By Bing Howard

Picture this: No TV for 3 years! How about 5 years?

Our family was stationed in Japan for 3 years from 1998 to 2001. During our first year, we lived in the local Japanese community. Our biggest cultural shock was the language barrier. Everything on TV was in Japanese language. Sure, there must have been cable or satellite TV! However, we never did figure out how to sign-up for it so we could get some English Channels. Obtaining local services and paying phone, gas, electric, and other utility bills were already a challenge, so we did not want to add one more thing to our troubles. Although our sons, 1 and 6 years old at the time, were fascinated by the Japanese Anime characters on the TV shows, things just did not make sense to them. They eventually lost interest. So the TV was OFF for one year.

The next 2 years, we lived in Kamiseya US Naval Base Housing. There were English shows broadcasted by American Forces Radio and Television Service (AFRTS). We probably turned on the TV just a couple of times and decided that life without TV was better. We have completely distracted ourselves to more constructive activities such as reading or driving while listening to audio programs like Adventures In Odyssey and Your Story Hour. Each way from our home base to another base took 30 minutes, just enough time to listen to one story each way!

For fun on weekends, we would drive around, get lost, and then try to find our way back without asking for directions from anyone. Asking directions would be tough anyway because we would have to express ourselves in mostly body language since we barely spoke any Japanese.

After Japan, we moved to Bahrain right after the September 11th tragedy. Although we had satellite TV in our apartment complex, we only watched CNN news during the beginning of the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and then the beginning of the Iraq war. We realized we could not be glued to the TV only to hear that people hate us Americans. So our lives went on for 2 years there without TV!

What did our kids do for fun? Our children's best playtimes were with GI Joes, Legos, planes, trains,  automobiles, and other kids. We spent countless hours in the swimming pool. The boys love to draw and read books. The desktop PC was also an ally for playing educational and simulation games.

Except for occassional Veggie Tales, Adventures in Odyssey, and some Christian videos that we ordered through, we practically lived for 5 years without TV! We found out that without TV, we were a calmer family and very attentive to each other's needs. We could hear and understand each other.

So now we are back in the USA! Overwhelmed by new technology and choices, we made our first big mistake by walking into Circuit City in October 2003 and bought Direct TV!  Then in December, we bought an X-Box!

Cartoon Network and X-Box all of a sudden became a problem in our home. Our kids suddenly have selective hearing problems and attention deficit disorders! Whatever happened to first time obedience!

Finally, after almost 2 years of wrangling, we pulled the plug off the wall. Direct TV was the first one to go in August 2005! We were paying $50/month or $600/year for over 100 TV channels that we never watched! Now we have more than what we need to pay for our much needed family legal plan!

The X-Box: we'll see! We definitely are not upgrading to X-Box 360! So far, the boys are again reading, drawing, and playing with GI Joes, Legos, planes, trains,  automobiles, and other kids.

How about news? Well, we get that for free through the internet nowadays. And we can get somewhat more balanced reports this way because we can select the ones that appeal to us and ignore the ones that seem to be so liberally biased. No TV commercials, just occassional pop-up ads that you can easily block if you know how to do it. Additionally, with an inexpensive set of rabbit ears (antenna), we are able to receive local TV channels at no cost and watch the news or sports.

What about going to the cinemas and watching family-friendly movies? Of course we do go to movies like most families. But we find many of the movies these days are repulsive and they promote moral values contrary to ours. So we do a little bit of homework first before we take our children to the movies, rent videos, or buy videos or DVDs.

Yes, we can still watch movies with our kids without being subjected to massive vulgar language and scenes. But it takes extra time and effort to ensure that the entertainment in the theaters or what we bring to our living room is safe. With the popularity of DVDs, Cable and Satellite TV, Radio, and Internet,  it has become very easy for children to stumble into contents that are not suitable for them.  However, we can use the same technologies to our advantage to do our research, filter out unacceptable material, and advocate clean entertainment.

Before we see a movie, we check the reviews and ratings posted at Dove Foundation. We never let our children watch newly purchased movies on their own, we always watch together. We use a Sanyo DVD/VCR with TV Guardian to filter out profanity. Then after the movie, we ask our kids what they think about it, what they like and don't like,  and what lessons they have learned.

Parents need to be pro-active and well-equipped with information to guide their family in selecting movies, TV shows to watch, or any form of entertainment. Here are some resources that have helped us and we believe they can also help your family make an educated decision regarding entertainment. The worst thing a parent can do is allow a child to watch any movie, read any publication, or listen to anything without supervision. Left to themselves, our children will be open to self-destruction.

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." Philippians 4:8 NIV



  • Does it promote family values?
  • Does it promote Biblical values?
  • Does it promote healthy moral relationships?
  • Is there a redeeming value?
  • Is there an educational value?
  • Is there clear distinction between good and evil?
  • Is there value placed in human life?


  • Profanity, obscene language, taking God's Name in vain
  • Pornography, nudity, sexual scenes, promiscuity, homosexual preferences
  • Occult, witchcraft, voodoo, black-magic, spells, zombies, spirit possession, psychic
  • Violence, blood and gory, pointless killings, grotesque themes, horror
  • Portrayals of religious clergies as wacky, bigots, perverts
  • Glorification of villain characters as heroes
  • Disrespect for authority
  • Anti-God 
  • No redeeming value



  • Cedarmont Kids Music -  For your babies and toddlers, hours of fun, educational music on audio cassettes, CDs, and action songs on video to build motor skills! Our children's earlier years were filled with these wonderful tunes!
  • Chronicles Of Narnia Radio Theatre - This 22+ hour audio dramatization of C.S. Lewis' books by Focus On The Family Radio Theatre on CDs. Videos are available as well. Great for long-distance travels! Our family couldn't wait to get back in the car to listen to these awesome stories!
  • Digital Dance Praise - Turn Your Computer into a Dance Arcade with Top Christian Hits! Get ready for hours of family fun with music worth listening to! Simply plug in the interactive dance pad into the USB port of your computer and start movin' and groovin' to over 50 Christian songs from your favorite artists.
  • K-Love Christian Radio - Encouraging Christian music all day both on the radio and web! When you are driving or at home doing chores, listen to Christian radio, you will find that your day goes better with it! Every corner of our house is filled with music, even our 13-year old son homeschools and sleeps with K-Love on! Very positive and encouraging!
  • Veggie Tales- Fun Bible Stories on Video , Cds, Educational Software for the entire family! Adults will love those silly but character-building veggies!
  • Your Story Hour - Dramatized stories taken from sacred/secular history and true-life situations, build character and equip today's youth for life's challenges and good decision-making. Your Story Hour provides wholesome character-building entertainment for the whole family.
  • Invest in toys like Duplos or Legos that help build motor skills and critical thinking. Our boys learned how to follow instructions and read little manuals when they were only three years old!
  • And don't forget books, books, and more books! Reading builds character and promotes literacy!


  • Children's Technology Review - 6,000+ reviews of the latest children's educational software and smart toys, along with practical advice for parents, teachers and librarians on using all forms of technology with children.
  • Edutaining Kids - At Edutaining Kids, we review children's video games for Nintendo's Game Cube, GameBoy Advance, XBox, and PlayStation. Our focus is on kid-friendly and family-friendly choices.
  • Parent's Choice - Parents' Choice recommends the best in children's media.  Content includes Parents' Choice Awards and Noteworthy Product Reviews. 
  • SuperKids - SuperKids provides educational resources for parents, teachers, and kids, including impartial reviews of children's software, math worksheets, vocabulary builders and more.
  • The ESRB rating system helps parents and other consumers choose the games that are right for their families. ESRB ratings have two parts: rating symbols that suggest what age group the game is best for, and content descriptors that indicate elements in a game that may have triggered a particular rating and/or may be of interest or concern.


  • American Family Association - Christian organization promoting the Biblical ethic of decency in American society with primary emphasis on TV and other media.
  • Al Menconi Ministries is an evangelical, non-denominational para-church ministry. Our mission is to educate and equip Christian parents and leaders to communicate biblical values in the home and church.   Our goal is to help parents and leaders communicate values to children. Please take a look at our numerous articles and reviews; each one is written to help you understand the influence today's entertainment has on us and to help you set biblical guidelines for your family. We want to help you teach your children how to think; not merely what to think.
  • Focus On The Family - Conveys information, insight, and reviews of the popular media forms of youth culture. Especially helpful to parents are the close-up looks at secular music, movies, television, and advertising, all of which target the minds and hearts of teens.
  • Preview Family Movie and TV Review - For twenty years, PREVIEW has been your trusted source for movie reviews from a Christian and family perspective. Learn more about "How Movie Morality Ministries Evaluates Movies and TV Shows", a commentary by PREVIEW founder John Evans.
  • The Dove Foundation is a non-profit organization established to encourage and promote the creation, production and distribution of wholesome family entertainment. Provides reviews on movies that are available on videos and the ones currently showing in the theaters.
  • THE JESUS FILM PROJECT - With the script taken straight from the Gospel of Luke, "JESUS" is recognized as the most accurate depiction of the life of Christ ever put on film. Through use by The JESUS Film Project, and more than 1,500 Christian agencies, this powerful film has had more than 5 billion viewings worldwide since 1979. On top of that, the great majority of those heard the story of Jesus in a language they easily understand, now in over 900 languages. As a result, more than 197 million people have indicated decisions to accept Christ as their personal Savior and Lord.
  • TV Guardian - Use the TVGuardian to filter profanity from your TV and videos. . . While You Watch! Connect the TVGuardian between your TV and VCR, pop in a movie or turn on your favorite TV series -- then relax while the TVGuardian goes to work filtering practically all the offensive language from the ears of you and your children.
  • - Founded in 1994, TV-Turnoff Network is dedicated to the belief that we all have the power to determine the role that television plays in our own lives. Rather than waiting for others to make "better" TV, we can turn it off and reclaim time for our families, our friends, and for ourselves.
  • World Wide Pictures - supports the ministry and calling of Billy Graham to take the message of Christ to all we can by producing and distributing high-quality audio-visual evangelistic presentations.

Please email us to suggest a link or make corrections.

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