Warped Notions in Children's Television

A Western Practitioner in Aust

PureInsight | November 12, 2001

When my husband and I got married nine years ago, we decided we would not have a television in our house. I strongly felt that the presence of a television sitting in the corner of the lounge room, or any room for that matter, could easily rule our lives. I didn't want my opinions and thoughts and decisions to be made based on the information pouring out of the television, most of which I couldn't verify.

Now that we have children, I am very glad we made that decision. However, my children have relatives, who have televisions, and so they still get some exposure to TV and videos. I try to be very careful about what programmes or videos they watch, and since becoming a practitioner two years ago, I am even more particular. I am not going to discuss the obviously immoral values, excessive violence, particularly in adult programmes, or even the possibility of subliminal messages. All these things are easy enough for everyday people to verify and there are plenty of references about the potential damage to society caused by such factors. There's really nothing new in this. Many people in society would probably agree that many of the programmes on TV are a waste of time, and that they watch too much TV. I am talking here particularly about programmes and videos made specifically for children, and how we should view them in the Fa. TV is such a convenient babysitter, both for parents and children, and I believe it is something that parents need to monitor extremely carefully, including programmes specifically intended for children.

One thing I have noticed with alarm is the amount of evil portrayed in children's programmes. The evil is usually blatant (while it is far more subtle in adult programmes) and quite scary for small children. Why should fear be part of entertainment? I have noticed that the common theme in many children's movies is the battle of good against evil - whether it's humans, dinosaurs, mermaids or toys! The good usually wins, but only after a battle of some kind. Before I became a practitioner I thought that this was quite a good lesson for my children to learn, that good will overcome evil. However, now I realise just how warped those ideas of good and evil are, when compared with the sole criterion for judging good and bad: Zhen, Shan, Ren. The good is not really good, just less bad than the evil. The good wins over the evil through human cunning, logic and outsmarting, not through truthfulness, compassion or forbearance. These stories of good against evil also teach children that it is okay to hurt a person or even destroy them if they are 'evil'. This is very warped! If it is wrong to hurt or kill someone, it is wrong regardless of how bad a person or character is. (This is different from eliminating evil in other dimensions that practitioners are doing as part of Fa Rectification. This is something done out of compassion for all sentient beings, and to safeguard the Fa).

There is also the warped notion in many children's cartoons that someone can be hurt over and over, whether deliberately or by accident, and still get up and resume life as normal.

Children's movies also teach children to judge by appearances: good is portrayed as beautiful or handsome; evil is portrayed as ugly. In this dimension, this is not a correct notion. The sole criterion for judging good and evil is Zhen Shan Ren. Children should not learn that beautiful people are good, and ugly people are bad. They need to learn to discern by a person's behaviour. As Master Li explains in Zhuan Falun:

We have said that no matter how much human moral values have changed, this characteristic of the universe, Zhen-Shan-Ren, will forever remain unchanged. If someone says that you are good, you may not really be good. If someone says that you are bad, you may not really be bad. This is because the criteria that evaluate good and bad are distorted. Only one who complies with this characteristic of the universe is a good person. It is the sole criterion which determines a good or bad person, and it is recognized by the universe.

Children's minds are so open. If you ever observe a small child watching TV they are so utterly engrossed in it and absorbed by all the actions. In my admittedly limited experience with young children, they tend to remove themselves from situations where they are afraid, or they may seek out security (parent, teacher, familiar environment). However, when it comes to TV, even if children are afraid, there is something incredibly compelling about watching a movie…so that many children may continue to watch, even though they know it scares them and may give them nightmares in the future. And what goes in becomes part of them. In Essentials for Further Advancement, "Dissolving into the Fa", Master Li explains:

A person is like a container: he is whatever he contains. All of what a person sees with the eyes and hears with the ears are: violence, lust, power struggles in literary works, struggles for profit, worship of money, other manifestations of demon-nature, and so on, of the practical world. With his head filled with these, such a person is truly a bad person, no matter what he appears to be. One's behavior is dictated by one's thoughts. With a mind full of such things, what's one able to do?

TV helped add layers upon layers of warped notions onto us, that we now need to get rid of in our cultivation, so why would we allow it to add layers of warped notions and incorrect values onto our children, that they will have to get rid of later?

This is my understanding at present.

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