Television and Its Impacts on Society Essay

Television and Its Impacts on Society Essay

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Over the last forty to fifty years, television has been a major topic of discussion. Specifically, many debate societal benefits to television watching. One widely accepted opinion is that watching TV makes people dumber. People have referred to it with terms like the “idiot box” and do not feel that watching TV has any benefit at all. They feel that it is a waste of time and people need to spend their hours more wisely. Others are of the opinion that TV is actually has societal benefits. From this perspective, they claim that the development of the structure of the programs now requires one to intellectually participate in watching television. Essentially, the argument is whether TV is a beneficial societal force or is it simply a convenient, yet detrimental, outlet for entertainment.
One major proponent of the view that watching television is beneficial is technology writer Steven Johnson. In a 2005 New York Times Magazine article, he praises the progress the television industry has made in recent decades. His basic argument is that as opposed to programming roughly 20 years ago, one must now be an active participant when watching TV shows. Referring to the show 24 as an example of such a phenomenon, Johnson says that “to keep up with entertainment like 24, you have to pay attention, make inferences, [and] track shifting social relationships” (Johnson, 214-215). Johnson is making the point that in order to fully understand an episode of a modern day TV show such as 24, one has to think. One has to be able to follow the many different plot lines simultaneously, while keeping track of the different characters and threads from previous episodes. He ultimately argues that it is these cognitive demands which make watch...

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... cannot be ignored. Time that used to be spent reading, sleeping, studying, and exercising is now devoted to catching up on an episode of Lost or ER. Moreover, parents have to do a better job supervising what their children watch. There is too much violence on TV for children to have that control themselves. TV itself may not make people dumber, but the things it takes people away from would have made them smarter. This, coupled with the disgusting lack of ethics on many shows, pushes the balance toward television being an overall detriment to society.

Works Cited

Johnson, Steven. "Watching TV Makes You Smarter." New York Times Magazine. (2005): Print.

Stevens, Dana. "Thinking Outside the Box." Slate. (2005): Print.

Gaddy, Gary D. “Television’s Impact on High School Achievement.” The Public Opinion Quarterly, Vol. 5, No. 3 (Autumn 1986), pp. 340-359.

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