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Television: Destructive Or Instructive? Essay, Research Paper

Television: Destructive or Instructive?

A boy sits on the floor, his eyes glued to the television screen. His mother calls him for dinner and there is no movement, he is so drawn into what he is watching that he has blocked out reality. Is this a familiar picture? This situation is becoming an all too common scene for American families. I believe television is becoming the center of too many people?s lives. Television causes inactivity, promotes violence and questions morality.

First of all, according to Postman, ?The average American child watches 5000 hours of television before he or she ever gets to school.? Television causes people to become lazy and inactive. Watching television consists of sitting on a couch and focusing on the images brought to live on the screen. Viewing television programs takes away time that could be used for physical activity. For example, take what a child?s daily schedule used to consist of years ago before television was so popular. Children would spend countless hours outdoors: playing games, running, and interacting with neighborhood friends. When their mothers would call them inside for dinner or for the night, they would give the response, ?Just five more minutes, please?? Nowadays, it is a struggle for parents just to get their children away from a television set and go outside for a few minutes. These children become ?housebound, inactive, and solitary?, according to Kael. Also, people that spend more time in front of the television spend less time reading and doing work that needs too be done, such as homework and errands. Watching television does not make up for the time that should be spent improving reading and writing skills.

Secondly, television promotes violence. Sure, some television programs have a few educational aspects; however, many are made just for the entertainment. And violence, to many, is the most entertaining feature of television. When networks see how much people enjoy viewing programs with violence and profanity, they put more of it on. Viewers exposed to this type of activity are more apt to imitating it. There have been many cases where television is blamed for violent acts. For example, Dr. Leonard Eron of the University of Illinois found that people who had watched the most violent TV between birth and age eight had committed the most serious crimes by age 30. Watching violent television programs teaches aggressive attitudes and behaviors. People become desensitized to real world violence. Because heavy viewers watch so much violent acts on television, they come to see violence as a normal and accepted way of life. People become drawn into what they are exposed to on the television screen, and it is hard to distinguish fact from fiction. As Doerken states, ?So much TV is based upon illusion and fantasy that it becomes very difficult at times to know what is truth and what is not.? This is especially true for those children that have yet to learn that television is not always what it seems. Also, surprisingly, the programs that are especially designed for children, such as cartoons, are the most violent of all programming.

As well as violence, profanity is also very easy to imitate. Viewers, children especially, hear all the profanity used on these programs, and think it is okay to use too. For example, many sport?s figures use foul language constantly. Children see their role models using these words, and think it is cool and appropriate. Also, talk shows are filled with profanity, and there is always a talk show on in the after school hours of the day. Children are exposed to this type of behavior everywhere, and want to imitate it.

Another bad aspect of television is its affect on a person?s morals. Television erodes the traditional morals of American families by the poor example it sets forth for the nation’s youth. Some television programs teach all the wrong lessons, and children think what they see on television are the right things to do. Television also corrupts our own personal beliefs at times. Watching something can get a person to go against his or her own beliefs in order to be like everyone else. If the majority of the population thinks one way about an issue, the average person is apt to want to be like them, as to not be different. Television contains many of these controversial issues.

Television has also loosened the bonds of the American family. In this day and age everyone spends more and more time with the television and no one spends time with each other anymore. The idea of a good wholesome dinner with the family at night to talk about the day has been replaced by eating in front of the television, often each family member in a different room.

In conclusion, television is destructing our country. It has more a more negative impact on viewers than positive. I strongly agree with the viewpoints of the critics who state that television is a bad influence on our nation. It is taking away from physical activities, schoolwork, and family time. It promotes hostility, violence, and profanity. If television programs contained less violence and provided more education, the advantages would overpower the disadvantages. Television would then be a wholesome, moral experience for the American family. If parents would screen what them and their children viewed it would more than likely cut down on violence. The question should not be if television is bad, but what programs on television are bad.

Doerken, Maurine. Classroom Combat: Teaching and Television.

Kael, Pauline. Movies to Television.

Postman, Neil. Amusing Ourselves to Death.

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