"Christians and the Internet" newsletter
CATI, Vol. 1, No. 15:  April 14, 2000.
Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is
Copyright (C) 2000 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved.  For
permission to reproduce material from this newsletter, contact
Barry Traver at cati@traver.org.  Permission is hereby granted,
however, to pass along this issue to others, provided that (1)
no changes are made and (2) it is passed along in its entirety.
To subscribe, write to cati@traver.org, including "Subscribe to
CATI" in the Subject line and including in the body your real
name and the email address to which you wish CATI sent.  (To be
removed from the emailing list, also write to cati@traver.org,
but include "Remove from CATI List" in the Subject line.)
This issue of CATI is being sent out a week and a half late
because of an unexpected hospital stay and surgery.  I want
to say "thank you" to all subscribers/friends who have been
remembering me with emails, with online greeting cards, and
(especially) with their prayers.
I still have a recovery period ahead of me, but I'm happy to
report (for those who are curious about the medical details)
that the blood work showed (perhaps somewhat surprising) no
damage to the kidneys, the TURP surgery went well, and the
biopsy showed no evidence of cancer.  I had a minor temporary
setback this past Friday and Saturday (so I appreciate your
continued prayers), but it's now primarily a matter of my
getting appropriate rest and trusting that normal bodily
functions will be fully restored in the process of time.
Since my wife and I do not ordinarily cope very well with
medical-type situations, we know how dependent we are upon
the grace of God and the prayers of friends to successfully
survive the special challenges involved.  Thus we are very
grateful for the help we've been receiving from your prayers.
This issue is a bit "skimpy," because it is based on research
I did before I went into the hospital on April 10, 2000.  I'm
trusting that future issues will improve after I (and my body)
have had more opportunity to "catch up" with things.  Thank
you again for your prayers, your patience, and your continued
interest in CATI!
--Barry Traver, Editor of CATI
In CATI 1/14 we saw that the SIQSS Internet Study presented
evidence that people who are on the Internet are often likely
to spend less time on television.  The purpose of this article
is to emphasize that it is important for Christians to bring
all of life -- including both activity on the Internet and
the watching of television -- under the Lordship of Christ.
Both the Internet and television present dangers as well as
opportunities.  Under what is sometimes called the creation
mandate, we all have the responsibility to rule over this
world (to "take dominion") as we ourselves submit to the rule
of God.  If we ourselves are not master over the Internet and
television, we may find that -- whether or not we are aware of
it -- they may have taken mastery or dominion over us.
In this issue, we will explore the matter of why watching
less television may not be a bad thing, since there is much
evidence that many Americans (and many Canadians, for that
matter) are spending a great deal of time on television.  This
is especially true of children, who may suffer a number of
negative effects, but it is also true of adults.
How much time do children spend watching television?
"The Advisory Panel on the Scholastic Aptitude Test Score
Decline reported in 1977: 'By age 16 most children have spent
10,000 to 15,000 hours watching television, more time than
they have spent in school. When they reach 1st grade, their
watching time is between 20 and 35 hours a week....'  Since
then, time before the tube has continued to increase.... The
percentage of 13-year-old students watching three or more
hours each day jumped from 55 to 70 from 1982 to 1990, and for
17-year-olds, from 31 percent to 50 percent from 1978 to 1990.
In 1990, almost one in four 9-year-olds were watching six
hours or more each day."
Educational Testing Service Network: America's Smallest
    School: The Family: Watching Television
And what are the academic results in particular?  The same
Educational Testing Service article tells us that as well:
"NAEP [the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the
"Nation's Report Card") consistently finds that students who
watch long hours of television have lower proficiencies in
school.... The highest average proficiencies were for those
students who watch the fewest hours of television." 
Our focus for the moment is not on the content of television
(which deserves an article in itself) but the amount of time
spent watching television:
"Most criticism of television has focused on content--on the
sex, violence and cynically degraded sensibility that pervade
the medium and therefore our homes.  This is an important
battle.  Yet no less important is the sheer amount of time
that Americans spend watching TV.  Kids typically spend
three hours a day in front of the tube, and adults even
more. On average, Americans watch TV the equivalent of 56
days--nonstop-- per year."
Testimony of Henry Labalme, Executive Director of TV-Free
    America, Submitted to the United States Senate Committee
    on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, May 20, 1999
We already saw comments from the Educational Testing Service
(ETS, makers of the Scholastic Aptitude Test or SAT) on the
amount of time children spend watching television.   Let's
take a look at a study done by the Vanier Institute on the
Family on the situation in Canada:
"On average, Canadians watch more than 22 hours of television
a week or slightly more than 3 hours a day. Canadian children
between the ages of 2-11 watch approximately 18 hours a week
or 2.57 hours daily. Adolescents between the ages of 12-17
watch an average of 17.3 hours a week or 2.47 hours daily."
The Vanier Institute on the Family:  Contemporary Family
    Trends:  Electronic Media and the Family
And the same article points out that the statistics for the
United States are similar:
"A U.S. study on TV Viewing Time for Children presents a
similar picture:  Children there watch 2.55 hours of TV
viewing per day, compared to an average of one hour for
homework. Preschoolers watch an average of 2.6 hours a day,
elementary school children average about 2.4 hours of TV
viewing daily, and teenagers watch about 2.63 hours per day."
Adults may spend even more time watching television, and this
is especially true for older adults.  Here, for example, is
the situation for senior adults in Canada:
"Television viewing accounts for the largest share of the free
time of older persons. In 1997, people aged 60 and over
watched television an average of 4.9 hours per day.... In
1997, women aged 60 and over averaged 5.2 hours per day
watching television, compared with 4.6 hours for men in this
age range."
Canada's Seniors: Watching Television
The question a Christian must answer is whether spending such
an extensive amount of time watching television can be really
justified as a profitable use of time.  Time is a gift from
God, and we must use it wisely.  One point made in "Television
vs. Dominion," a thought-provoking sermon preached by Steve
Schlissel, pastor of Messiah's Congregation, Brooklyn, New
York. is that "godly dominion requires the godly redemption of
time" (Eph. 5:16):
"And if you disagree with everything else that I have said up
until this point, I would like to know how you get around
this one. Time is given us for the purpose of training and
developing our hearts, our hands and minds, into the service
of God and our fellow man. The simple and undeniable fact
is, that when a Christian is watching television he is not
conversing....  You are not even open to conversation....
You are not reading and reading is interactive. Reading is
stimulating. Reading gets your imagination going....  If you
are watching television, you are not conversing. You are not
reading. You are not studying. You are not interacting. You
are not singing. You are not corresponding. You are not
praying. You are not playing. You are not renewing. You are
not growing. You are not even thinking...."
  Steve Schlissel, Television vs. Dominion
That criticism may be extreme (our family does not spend a
large amount of time watching television, but we are not
persuaded that all television watching is a waste of time!),
but it remains true that we must make television to be our
servant and not allow it to be our master.  We must take
dominion over it in the name of Christ.
The same is true of the Internet.  Unlike television, the
Internet offers more opportunity for an experience that is
"interactive."  It offers, in fact, opportunities for such
things as reading, studying, interacting, singing, praying,
playing, renewing, growing, thinking, corresponding, and,
yes, even conversing.  But you have to look specifically for
such opportunities and take advantage of them.
In itself, the Internet can present as much temptation for a
useless waste of time as does the "boob tube" or "idiot box,"
but (also like television) it can offer opportunities for
worthwhile experiences as well, if we "take dominion" over
As with television, there are two useful questions to ask in
regard to the Internet:  (1) Are you spending too much time on
it?  (2) Is the time spent on it time that is spent on doing
something that has a practical, godly purpose?  If you are a
Christian, you will want to do all to the glory of God (1 Cor.
10:31) and to bring everything into captivity to Christ (2
Cor. 10:5).  Whatever you do (including watching television
or using the Internet), do it purposefully to God's glory!
By the way, here's an interesting essay from an Orthodox
perspective ("Orthodox" not as in "Orthodox Presbyterian,"
but as in "Greek Orthodox") on the proper use of television:
Television in the Christian Home (Orthodox)
Here's another thought-provoking essay on television and its
possible effects on children:
Strangers in Our Homes: TV and Our Children's Minds
And here's where you'll find Steve Schissel's challenging
sermon about television:
Steve Schlissel, Television vs. Dominion
Finally, here's where you'll find information on the Standford
study on the Internet (discussed in more detail in CATI 1/14):
SIQSS Internet Study
SIQSS Internet Study: Press Release
In March 2000 my wife and I went to a Christian financial
stewardship seminar at Westminster Theological Seminary in
Philadelphia.  The excellent sessions on family financial
planning we attended were presented by a person associated
with Ron Blue, one of the two best-known Christian financial
advisors in the country (the other is Larry Burkett).
Here's where you can find them on-line:
Ron Blue (financial, estate, and investment counseling)
Ron Blue: Book Resources
Christian Financial Concepts (Larry Burkett)
Christian Financial Planning Institute (Larry Burkett)
CATI 1/9 included an extended article on Web sites where you
can find helpful movie and video reviews, including a number
of sites where you can find reviews by Christian reviewers:
Movie and Video Reviews: Some Useful Sites (CATI, 1/9)
Following are a couple of additional general movie sites that
you may perhaps find helpful:
Juxtaposeur ("reviewing reviews and critiquing critics")
"Wondering what film critics think about all the latest movies?
The Juxtaposeur knows! Get the opinions of several top critics
in one informative narrative, plus a link to dozens of full
reviews for each new movie...."
"Tired of plunking down 10 bucks to see another overhyped
dud at the local multiplex? Try the recommendations from
MovieLens before your next movie outing. MovieLens uses
collaborative-filtering technology--you rate movies you've
already seen, and MovieLens guesses the movies you'd like to
see based on the responses of users with similar tastes. The
more movies you rate (there are hundreds listed here), the
more accurate the predictions will be...."
  --Y-Life Daily, "Incredibly Useful Site of the Day"
Although the service is free, you do have to register to use
it.  My advice is NOT to supply the optional information and
NOT to grant permission to them to "send you e-mail ... to tell
you about new services or other news" if you want to protect
your privacy and to protect yourself against unwanted email.
It is interesting, however, that MovieLens is located on the
University of Minnesota Web site (That's what the "umn.edu"
in the address means), although that fact does not necessarily
mean that the site is officially sponsored by the University.
Looking for something specific in CATI?  With fifteen issues
of CATI already published, it might be hard to find, but not
if you use our new search engine (powered by Atomz.com)!
Yes, a search engine specifically to search CATI has been
added to the CATI Archives.  Check it out:
Searching tips:  (1) When searching for a phrase, put it in
quotes (e.g., "America Online").  (2) You can sometimes get
more responses if you use all lower or all upper case rather
than mixed case (e.g., "family-safe internet" rather than
"Family-Safe Internet").
Finding something quickly is a two-step process:  Use the
CATI search engine to find the issue you want, and when you
get there, use "Find" on your Web browser (usually under
"Edit" on the top menu bar) to find the right spot on the
Web page.  Enjoy!
IMPORTANT note that I forget to include in an earlier issue:
When searching for a phrase using the CATI search engine, put
it in quotes, BUT when searching for a phrase on a Web page
using your Web browser, do NOT put the phrase in quotes.
--Barry Traver, Editor
This is the fifteenth issue of a free newsletter devoted to
"Christians And The Internet" ("CATI," pronounced "Katy," 
but spelled with a "C" and an "I" for "Christians" and the 
Privacy policy:  The information in the "Christians And The 
Internet" mailing list will NOT be sold, rented, or given to
others.  (Let them make their own lists! <grin>)
Past issues:  you'll find archives of past issues of CATI
available online at http://traver.org/cati/ .  ("It's not a
pretty site," but hopefully it may be a useful one.)
Unless otherwise indicated, all material in this newsletter is
Copyright (C) 2000 by Barry Traver, All Rights Reserved.  For
permission to reproduce material from this newsletter, contact
Barry Traver at cati@traver.org.  Permission is hereby granted,
however, to pass along this issue to others, provided that (1)
no changes are made and (2) it is passed along in its entirety.
To subscribe, write to cati@traver.org, including "Subscribe to
CATI" in the Subject line and including in the body your real
name and the email address to which you wish CATI sent.  (To be
removed from the emailing list, also write to cati@traver.org,
but include "Remove from CATI List" in the Subject line.)