Catholic Activity: Elementary Parent Pedagogy: Radio in the Home
Although this pamphlet predates TV, many of the guidelines given for radio in the home is applicable today for both radio and TV programs.
Suppose that we parents are resolved to try our best to be model Catholics and to make our homes as Catholic as possible. Would it then be wise or consistent for us carelessly to tune in the radio and thus let loose a stream of vulgarity, of coarse jokes, of suggestive songs or music? These things will teach the children just the opposite of what we are striving to teach. If we do not want our little ones to go around humming vulgar tunes, we must supervise the radio. The children will certainly imitate what they hear.
Supervision of the radio in our homes is then a clear duty of parents.
We should direct the choice of programs for the family. We must listen to the numbers the child tunes in. If they are vulgar or indecent, we can explain that such things are only a way of getting foolish people to listen to advertisements. Children soon understand that most sponsored programs are advertisements.
Adopt a critical attitude toward them yourself, and your child will not so readily believe all he hears on the air. If you find the so-called "Children's Programs" unsuitable for little people, write to the radio station and say so. And be sure to get all your neighbors to write also. The program makers aim to please you; and if they insult your good taste by offering vulgar entertainment, they should hear from you. Always remember that they seek to please the public.
Magnificent concerts and operas are given in the large cities. To be present at these costs a large sum of money. People who cannot afford seats, will stand for three hours, just for the joy of hearing good music. Over the radio most of this music comes, without expense or trouble to the hearer. Do the children listen to it?
Fine music has a good effect on the nerves; it helps people to keep calm and reasonable. But remember that if children listen to vulgar music, to endless "swing" and "jazz," they will not have a taste for good music; and therefore, all their lives they will be deprived of the ability to enjoy one of the most beneficial of the arts. If they acquire a better appreciation of sound, they can learn to love the liturgical music of the Church, — about which we shall have more to say later.
It is the general opinion of teachers in schools that the work of children is seriously hampered by misuse of the radio. To listen to the radio and at the same time to study lessons, is a physical and mental impossibility for most children. Besides failing in his lessons the next day, the child gets into a very bad habit of giving to serious things only a fraction of his attention. Later, even when no radio is playing, he finds it hard to concentrate perfectly. The parents must face this difficulty and work out some arrangement so that the children may listen to radio at certain times with no school work before them, and at other hours study with the radio silent. The combination of the two must be broken up.
To say "No radio at all!" would, of course, be extreme and foolish. But a reasonable arrangement of hours will satisfy the children after a week or two, if not immediately. As a final warning, let us repeat that we must not allow vulgarity and indecency to enter our homes by way of the radio. On the contrary, we must train our children to listen to and to imitate the beautiful things that are to be found on the better programs.
Activity Source: Religion in the Home: Monthly Aids for the Parents of Elementary School Children by Katherine Delmonico Byles, Paulist Press, 1938