“Television is watched by millions of people for long hours every day” (Hefzallah 8). Televisions have a massive impact to the viewers. They contribute to awareness, knowledge, education and skills. They are the most significant and valued sources of information. Viewers keep updated on the latest happenings in business, politics, current affairs etc. However, TVs are not limited to information only; they keep up to date weather forecasts, leisure recipes, movies for entertainment, airport schedules etc. The invention of TVs was intended to be purely entertainment, but improvements in technology have diversified the uses of these machines (Shaffer 37).
Datta Amal feels that ‘the effects that televisions have on our lives vary from the level of entertainment, behavior, social aspect, energy and cost’’ (Datta 13). TVs have a significant impact on how we spend our free time (Hefzallah 63). Research indicates that young people especially teenagers are more addicted to watching TVs than adults (Ainsworth 68). This probably affects their behavior in knowledge assimilation and social aspects. Today, the average American viewer spends at least three hours watching TV. This is, however, based on time and age. ‘It is perceived that every Indian household has a TV and that viewers over the age of 65 watch TVs close to nine hours in a day’ (Datta 8).
TVs have the potential to unite societies. This is through the provision of information on positivity in culture, environmental change and creation of social and global villages. TVs act as forms of cultural homogeneity; people become more similar to each other in terms of dressing, lifestyles, language etc. However, the information provided has the capability to alienate, promote aggressiveness, dissocialize and create negative values in communities. For instance, watching armed conflicts and militaries at work have become part of the most aired information on TVs. This may create some form of incitement that may lead to society disintegration.
The relationship between what we see and perceive as behavior is extremely complex. “Besides entertainment and knowledge, TVs come with a full package to violence, drugs, sex and all forms of poor behavior” (Comstock 78). Researchers argue that aggressive and violent episodes on TV, influences on overall behavior. Scenes of sex and passion trigger emotions and feelings on viewers; In fact, children under the age of fifteen are said to imitate what they watch. Some of them result to aggressiveness, unacceptable social behavior and later to crime. The argument is that watching such scenes impacts on the psychology of the children, who believe that what they see are norms. In addition, peer pressure on such behavior adds to the resolutions on how they behave. However, the notion that watching such scenes impacts on negative behavior is a debate that researchers still need to expound on and provide evidence.
TVs act as social interaction and cohesion creators; People gather together after work to watch news, football, music and entertainment. During such times, interaction development of interaction exists both from the characters in the programs and also with other viewers. A classic practical would be on watching soccer where the viewers put themselves in the shoes of the players and offer their judgments. This enables interaction and unity between the viewers and the community.
“Televisions mould personality, interests and emotions; they air documentaries on heroes, celebrities, recognized personalities in societies and leaders, which impact on our personal development” (Datta 92). Programs like ‘The Oprah Winfrey’s’ show, do not only generate solutions to our problems, but also act as motivations in capacity development. They boost our moods and the way we perceive ourselves and assist in making decisions that affect our lives (Ainsworth 68).
TVs impact on our health and lifestyles; Research reveals that watching TV for long may lead to overweight, obesity, diabetes, and low IQ. Watching TV, for more than five hours, lead to increase in appetite especially on junk foods; For instance, movie addicts like accompanying movies with chips, pop corns and crisps among others. Such staffs have negative impacts on the health of the viewers. Children under the age of five are said to develop low IQ levels due to learning behavior from TV characters. For this reason, doctors discourage extreme exposure to TV sets and encourage interacting with other people rather than learning language from TV characters. “This assists in creativity and becoming independent learners” (Hefzallah 92).
The technology behind Television has incorporated itself all aspects of our lives, not to mention entertainment and changing the social outlooks. The dilemma is on the account on its effect and influence on our lives. How the technology influence on our lives, however, is dependent on our response to what we watch, how we value what we watch and how much time we spend watching. The important note to remember is that TVs play a significant role in influencing our lives. It gives us lots of information that may mould our personality as well as ruin our positions in the society. It makes us adapt to new trends and at the same time rubbishes cultural elements that shape the modern society. However, as much we may try to avoid watching TVs, we are constantly and often affected by their existence in one way or the other. The decision on the impact that they have on individual lives is totally dependent on individual perception.
Ainsworth, Alan. 75 Arguments: An Anthology. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2008. Print.
Datta, Amal. Effects of Television and the viewers. New Delhi: Mittal Publivations, 2007. Print.
Comstock, George A, and Erica Scharrer. Media and the American Child. Oxford: Academic, 2007. Print.
Hefzallah, Ibrahim M. Critical Viewing of Television: A Book for Parents and Teachers. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2010. Print.
Shaffer, David R. social and Personality Development. Australia: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning, 2009. Print.