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Pontiff to parents: Turn off the TV

VATICAN CITY — Pope John Paul attacked television as a major threat to family life Monday, saying it glorified sex and violence and wrecklessly spread false values.

He challenged parents to “simply turn the set off.”

The pope, in one of his toughest speeches on television, criticized parents who use it as “an electronic baby sitter.”

In a message for the Catholic Church’s 38th World Day of Communications, he urged parents to get tough with producers and advertisers and demand that the industry develop a strict, legally enforceable code of ethics to safeguard children.

Although some television programs could enrich the family, the pope said the medium for the most part had negative effects.

Television spread “degrading values and models of behavior by broadcasting pornography and graphic depictions of brutal violence.” It offered “distorted, manipulative accounts of news events,” used advertising to exploit base instincts and glorified false visions of life.

Even when individual programs were not morally objectionable, the medium still had a negative effect by isolating family members “in their own private worlds.”

“Forming children’s viewing habits will sometimes mean simply turning off the television set: because there are better things to do, because consideration for other family members requires it or because indiscriminate television viewing can be harmful,” he said.

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