by Lisa M. Grover
Television is a wonderful thing—through it we can learn about the world around us, be entertained, and even spread the gospel message. However, television is only really good in appropriate doses. Here are some things to think about the next time you park yourself in front of the set.
Before you watch, have you—
Finished your homework?
Gotten some exercise?
Read your scriptures?
Talked to members of your family to find out how their day was?
If you’re looking for an alternative to television, here are some other things to do:
Make a list of all the things you’ve ever wanted to do—then start doing one of them!
Write in your journal.
Read the New Era.
Play a game with your family (then they won’t be tempted to watch, either).
If you play a musical instrument, increase your practice time.
Think you can’t go without television? Youth in the Penasquitos First Ward in San Diego (California) went on a television “fast” for a month. Here’s what a few of the young women said about the experience:
“Although I missed some of my favorite shows, I didn’t miss some of the bad influences usually shown on TV.”
—Anne Hansen, age 16
“During the time I didn’t watch television, I was trying to decide where to go to college and found the peace of mind to be able to pray and receive the answer that I needed.”
—Carrie David, age 18
“This was a hard thing for me to do, but I feel that not watching TV has helped me be nicer to other people.”
—Tiffani Clark, age 13
So what’s the big deal anyway? What kind of influence does television have? Here’s what some seminary students in Utah and California had to say:
“If you watch too much TV, you have less time for studies and homework.”
—Coby Page, age 17, Clayton, California
“If you have a belief system, then that will determine what shows you watch. If you don’t have a belief system, the shows you watch might determine what you believe.”
—Candi Nickel, age 17, West Valley City, Utah
“Watching TV gives you less time to spend talking and doing worthwhile things with your family.”
—Cara Adair, age 17, Clayton, California
“Sometimes, on television, it looks like people who are doing bad things are having a good time doing it. That can affect the way you see things.”
—Melodie Moore, age 17, West Valley City, Utah
When you watch television, do it selectively. Here’s how:
Set a time limit for how much television you watch each week.
Decide what you’re going to watch before you watch it. Try to select worthwhile programs.
Devise an incentive program. After you’ve done your homework or read something worthwhile, reward yourself with a half-hour of television.
Use your television time to be more informed about current events by watching the news or other public information programs.
If something comes on the television that is vulgar or inappropriate, turn it off!
“My name is Rachel Zuehl and I’m from Two Rivers, Wisconsin, where my family and I are members of a small branch. Growing up, my brothers and sister and I were the only members of the Church in our high school.
“Everyone knew we wouldn’t smoke, drink, or do anything bad that was considered ‘fun.’ I was lucky to have a few really great friends who respected my standards. I tried to focus my time in high school on being involved in good things like softball, tennis, piano, forensics, and yearbook staff. Being busy helped me forget how unpopular I felt and how different I sometimes felt because I am a Mormon.
“At the spring sports banquet my senior year, I realized that someone did notice and did care that I was ’different.’ For the very first time in our school, the Wisconsin National Guard was presenting an award for ‘strong moral character and freedom from drugs and alcohol use.’ I was the recipient of the award. The whole gymnasium broke into applause as I made my way onto the stage. Through my tears of surprise and joy, I could see my classmates and their parents smiling at me as I received the award.
“I realized that day that being in the mission field has made my testimony strong and has helped me show others that it’s okay to choose the right.”
Although 16-year-old O. J. Hawea is a star softball player and an integral part of a championship team, he’s never played in the finals.
“They’re held on Sunday, so I don’t play in them. It’s all right,” he says.
There is no softball team at O.J.’s school in Temple View, New Zealand, so he plays in a league a few towns away. Although he has been one of the youngest players on the team, he’s also been one of the strongest, quickest, and best. His teammates, who are mostly not members of the Church, miss him in the championship games, but they respect his commitment and sometimes ask him about the Church.
O. J. enjoys seminary and Scouting and is preparing to serve a mission.
Josh Edwards, a priest who grew up in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, proved that eagles fly all over the world. He earned his Eagle Scout award by heading up a tree-classification project in the American Consulate General Park in Saudi Arabia.
Seventeen-year-old Laurel Summer Bradford had some reasons to feel sorry for herself. Making the move to Cincinnati, Ohio, from Minneapolis, Minnesota, wasn’t easy. But she was determined to become part of things at her new school. She worked hard to make new friends and was elected student body president. Summer’s advice: “Be friendly to everyone and always wear a smile.”
Meredith Cluff, a Laurel in Dewey, Arizona, has a knack for making friends with people who have special needs. She recently helped a girl with mental disabilities participate at girls’ camp as a youth camp leader. She also enjoys spending time with young children and the elderly.
Laurels and priests in the Yorba Linda Fourth Ward, Anaheim California East Stake, hosted a special missionary open house for their friends and neighbors. They taught miniclasses on different gospel topics. Nearly 200 people attended, and several made appointments with the full-time missionaries to learn more.
Laurels Heidi Box (left) and Melody Beer love splitting up—with the missionaries! The young women, who are from the McKinleyville Ward, Eureka California Stake, say that spending time helping the missionaries by going on “splits” gives them a spiritual boost that they just can’t get anywhere else.
Seventeen-year-old Elizabeth Allen of Wellington, New Zealand, has a dream, and she intends to attain it.
Several years ago, she started coming to church with a family in her area. “When I first started attending church, I didn’t really have any intentions of becoming a member,” she says.
“But the more I attended church, the more I learned. And the more I learned, the more I understood, and the more I understood, the more determined I became to be baptized.”
Elizabeth’s parents have asked her to wait until she’s 21 to become a member of the Church, but Elizabeth has kept her dream of being baptized alive by attending Sunday meetings, seminary, and youth activities for the last five years.
“I have learned so much,” she says. “I have learned that Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God, that he translated the scriptures correctly, that it is important to obey the Word of Wisdom, and all about the plan of salvation.”
“Be friendly. Be understanding. Be tolerant. Be considerate. Be respectful of the opinions and feelings of other people. Recognize their virtues; don’t look for their faults. Look for their strengths and their virtues, and you will find strengths and virtues which will be helpful in your own life.”
—President Gordon B. Hinckley (from an interview with a news broadcaster)
The Standifird family of Highland, Utah, has really taken the sentiment “The family that plays together, stays together,” to heart. Marching band is their life! The four oldest Standifird siblings, Jason, Heather, Ryan, and Kristin, have spent a combined 12 years in their high school marching band.
These brothers and sisters say that being in the band has helped them accomplish other goals by teaching them discipline and hard work, tools that have been especially useful to Jason on his mission to Dublin, Ireland, Heather on her mission to Hong Kong, and Ryan on his mission to the Philippines. Kristin, who just graduated from high school, is glad that, for a brief time, they’ll all be reunited before school starts. Some of them will return to college early to get ready for—what else?—band!
Youth in South Bend, Indiana, know how to put in a hard day’s work. They spent part of their youth conference planting flowers, painting buildings, and pulling weeds for two charity organizations in their area. They had a lot of work to do at the beginning of the day, but the youth came through—despite the intense heat and humidity.
“The service projects were really fun. There was a lot to do, but with everyone’s help we successfully finished it all,” says 15-year-old Kristen Woolf.
This group may be small in numbers—about 65 in all—but they know how to make a big difference.