The negative influence of television on our children

There was a time where there was no need for the warning “Do Not Try This At Home.” A time where, yes, we would avidly watch “Western” movies and TV shows through a glass, but never actually have the audacity to try and mimic them. Day and night we would sit there and watch the way they would talk, dress, eat, sing, act, etc. Everything was new and cool when it came to the screen, but it was firmly out of reach, not yet approachable.

[pullquote]Children won’t listen to their parents because they “don’t have the right” to tell them what to do.[/pullquote] Once upon a time there was a force in our households, a force that goes by the name “parents.” The authoritative kind who had a firm stance; the kind of force that would make you shudder with fear of doing anything that’d cause them to disapprove. The “Do Not Try This At Home” warning was instilled in every child’s brain way before it was flashed briefly before a reckless scene. There was this common understanding to the audience back then that whatever happens in Hollywood, stays in Hollywood. Staring at the screen, open-mouthed was something the old and young would do together. There was so much innocence back then which made it acceptable for children to watch movies meant for adults, until of course the innocence began to fade.

Kids started to snap awake from the lure of the television and go out into the streets to try what they just witnessed. Soon things went beyond mimicking stunts and sports tricks to imitating non-Muslims on things like dating, drinking, and clubbing. The actions that were placed under the file of “haram” are now being done freely and openly because it is so common, so frequently seen, it is normal. The principles that were placed by the previous generations are being brushed aside as close-minded traditions. Not even the Islamic countries are immune to this wave of rebellion and loss of values.

We need but simply to view what is outside our front doors to see how far we’ve gone from the conservative lifestyle. Violence, murder, and rape is no longer an eight o’clock Dateline episode, but is now part of the town’s gossip. Many Muslim youths get swept away by pop culture and forget their deen, their origins. We can’t even blame the parents anymore because they have lost their power. Children won’t listen to their moms and dads because they “don’t have the right” to tell them what to do. Parents shouldn’t force their children to do what they don’t want to do, but setting firm rules and principles are extremely important in these times. Without a proper role model to lead by example, kids will look to celebrities and other pop icons to follow. If the parents wants to better their child, they must better themselves first.

Influence is strong these days, but there is a bright side to all of this. You may have thought writing an article is useless when it comes to the problems of today’s society, but many don’t even realize what they are surrounded by. Most are so immersed by what they see and hear that they don’t realize the wrong, having no knowledge of an alternative. Just as a person who is living in a cave their whole life wouldn’t realize there is sunlight outside until they leave it.

Spreading awareness about the right path is most affective in this day and age. However, as with every criticism, we must start with ourselves.

“If your zeal for reforming the people becomes heightened, then begin with yourself; for indeed your pursuit for the righteousness of others while you are yourself corrupt, is the greatest flaw.”

Imam Ali ibn Abi Talib (ع) Ghurar al-Hikam p. 570, h. 1