Beware of TelevisionIt is considered that one of the greatest inventions of the twentiethcenturythe televisioncompletely changed the way of a person’s life.
Television has brought into every home a lot of information and easy-to-reachentertainment. Is its influence on the personality, family, or childrenpositive only or is there another side of the coin? Yes, there is. A negativeone. The effect of television depends not only on the content of its programs,but there are more general aspects of influence of TV viewing on intellectualactivity. To make sure of that we need to look scrupulously at every aspect ofthis phenomenon in general, not emphasizing on the quality and content of itsproduction. An abundance of information pouring into a person’s consciousness at afast pace does not allow him to analyze and comprehend it properly.
For example,let us make a comparison between reading and viewing. The pace of reading,clearly, depends entirely upon the reader. He may read as slowly or as rapidlyas he can or wishes to read. If he does not understand something, he may stopand reread it, or go in search of elucidation before continuing.
The reader canaccelerate his pace when the material is easy or less than interesting, and slowdown when it is difficult or enthralling. He can put down the book for a fewmoments and cope with his emotions without fear of losing anything. Unlike reading, the pace of the television experience cannot becontrolled by the viewer; he cannot slow down a delightful program or speed up adreary one. The images move too quickly.
He cannot use his own imagination toinvest the people and events portrayed on the screen with the personal meaningsthat would help him understand and resolve relationships and conflicts in hisown life; he is under the power of the show creators’ imagination. He becomes apassive consumer of the TV production; like drugs or alcohol, the televisionexperience allows the participant to blot out the real world and enter into apleasurable and passive mental state. Like an addict, he puts off otheractivities to spend hour after hour watching TV and finds television almostirresistible. Television affects family life.
In the early sixties almost eachmagazine articles about television was accompanied by a photograph orillustration showing a family cozily sitting together before the television set:Dad with his arm around Mom’s shoulder, children sitting around the parents. Who could have guessed that thirty or so years later Mom would be watching adrama in the kitchen, the kids would be looking at cartoons in their room, whileDad would be taking in the ball game in the living room? Nor did anyone imaginethe number of hours children would eventually devote to television or the commonuse of television by parents as a child pacifier. The adult has a vast backlog of real-life experience, the child has not. So, the influence of television on a child’s consciousness is considerablygreater. “Suppose there wasn’t any TVwhat do you think your child would dowith the time now spent watching TV?” This question was asked to a large numberof mothers of first graders in survey published in the Surgeon General’s Reporton Television and Social Behavior.
Ninety percent of mothers answered thattheir child would be playing in some form or another if he were not watchingtelevision. Play is one of the most important activities to develop a child’sabilities. Playing with others requires the child to suppress his own wishesand desires to a certain degree, self-control must be learned. Not only musteach child discover the need to suppress certain of his own impulses, but hemust also discover the difficulties that attend the varying levels of aggressionnormally existing among his playmates. The more aggressive child must learn tofind less aggressive ways to achieve his ends, while the milder-natured childmust learn to protect himself and to maintain his integrity in the face of amore forceful companion.
This horrible time-eater, the television set, hasrobbed the child of his normal opportunities to play, to talk, to do. Why don’t parents restrict their children’s TV consuming? Of course,they should not prohibit it because that would create an image of “forbiddenfruit” and thus make it more attractive. Only a wrong conception of democracymay help to explain why they have such difficulties controlling TV. But do youallow your three-year-old son to walk around with a sharp knife or allow yourlittle daughter to cross the street by herself? What’s the difference betweenrestricting television and protecting your child from other danger that they saythey cannot control? Both are equally dangerous.
I do not deny television has its positive qualities. I would like tosay only that it is a double-edged weapon and needs to be used with caution. Some say that everything is medicine and everything is poison, and only dosedetermines what it would be. We should learn to control that real and tangiblemachine in our homes, so that it does not control us.
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