Why We Tuned Out by Karen Springen

Why We Tuned Out by Karen Springen

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Tuning Out

In Karen Springen’s essay, “Why We Tuned Out,” explaining the reason’s behind keeping the television out of her children’s lives, the author uses several rhetorical strategies to argue her position. Rhetorical strategies are decisions the writer makes, big or small, to better argue the purpose of their piece. Springen uses statistical data, her own personal experiences, and cultural examples to more effectively argue the reasons why her children do not need to be exposed to television.

The first rhetorical strategy Springen uses in her argument is citing statistical data about the number of hours children spend watching television, the effects of watching that amount of television, and what the most highly rated television shows are among children. She cites in her essay that “American children 2 through 11 watch three hours and 16 minutes of television every day.” This data shows the reader the staggering amount of time children spend watching television each day. Springen further cites data concluding that when children watch over 10 hours of TV every week “they are more likely to be overweight, aggressive and slow to learn in school.” This data exemplifies to the reader the negative effects television has on young impressionable minds and bodies. Finally, Springen cites that among the top 5 television shows “for children 2 through 11…Survivor Thailand” ranks among them. This data shows that children exposed to television are also being exposed to programming that is far too mature for their age. By citing “bad” data about the way television negatively affects children, Springen persuades the reader in her argument to agree with her position that there is no good reason for her children to watch television on a daily basis.

Another type of citing that Springen uses to argue her point, are her own personal experiences of not exposing her children to television programming. She first cites the fact that by not turning on the television for her daughters she believes they “spend more time than other kids doing cartwheels, listening to stories and asking such interesting questions as ‘How old is God?’” By citing her own personal account, she shows the reader that the effects of not exposing her own daughters to television are clearly positive. Springen also shares her own personal knowledge that by not exposing her daughters to television they “don’t seem to feel like misfits.” By citing this experience, she disproves the thought that children that are not exposed to television are considered to be weird by their fellow peers.

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She persuades the reader to join her side of the argument by citing her own personal experiences of shielding her daughters from television and concluding that her own outcomes have always been positive.

Finally Springen uses the strategy of citing cultural examples in a negative tone to persuade the reader that her children are better off not being exposed to the television. Springen says her children have never “mentioned missing out on ‘Yu-Gi-Oh!’ cartoon duel” since not being allowed to watch television. By wording this statement in the way she does, Springen puts a negative undertone on the show and mocks the fact that her children would never complain about missing out on such programming. She further uses this technique by saying she “cringed” when she found out her daughter had watched “The Magic School Bus: Inside the Haunted House” in school. By informing the reader of her own negative reaction to this news, she makes the program seem bad and further persuades the reader to feel this way about it too.

After reading Karen Springen’s essay “Why We Tuned Out,” I have to disagree with her position that children should not be exposed to television. In her essay she cites that doctors have said “there’s no valid reason” why children “need to view television.” This statement may be true, but I have to argue that there is no reason children should not be allowed the satisfaction of sitting down and watching an entertaining television program. As long as what they are watching is age appropriate, then I see no harm in allowing them to do so. Also, Springen cites that because her children do not watch television, they have not been “haunted by TV images of September 11.” I have to also disagree with this statement, because I believe it is bad that she does not want to expose the youth to current issues in the world. By not allowing her children to watch news programming, her children are shielded from the important issues all people should know about. By doing this, children would grow up ignorant to major world events and issues. Although the rhetorical strategies are all found to be effective in arguing her position throughout the essay, I ultimately disagree with her views that children should not be exposed to television in their youth.
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