What Are People Saying About Television?
IS TELEVISION one of the most beneficial inventions ever devised by mankind? Or is it one of the greatest curses?
However you may answer, one thing is certain. As far as this world is concerned, television is here to stay. It has had a dramatic growth since it burst on the world scene right after World War II. Now there are more television sets in the world than there are telephones—nearly 400 million!
In the industrial countries, almost every home has a television set, some a second or a third one. Television’s use has spread also to poorer countries. In such lands, many homes that do not have running water have a television. Why, even in the United States more homes have TV than have indoor plumbing!
How much time do people spend watching TV? In many nations, adult TV viewing ranks only behind sleep and work for time consumed by a single activity. For example, the average Japanese housewife is said to watch television more than five hours a day. The average American household watches it over six hours a day. And nearly everywhere children spend more time watching TV than do adults.
All this TV watching must have an impact. Indeed, it can safely be said that no other force, in so short a time, has exerted such a powerful influence on so many people. In just three decades it has had an enormous effect on family relationships, entertainment, education, politics, advertising, news, sports, and other areas of human endeavor.
Television’s attraction is such that when one woman’s set broke down she said: “It’s like somebody in the family just died.” Some admit to being “TV-intoxicated,” needing a “daily fix” of it, as a drug addict would need drugs. One person said: “I took to TV like an alcoholic to demon rum; I was hooked.” He watched it for days at a time, once for four straight days and nights, with only a little sleep intervening.
Thus, for some people, a cartoon in an Argentine publication is not far from the truth. The cartoon showed a father, a mother and a child prostrate, with faces to the ground, arms reaching out toward the TV set, in worship of it.
What Kind of Influence?
Because of television’s influence, some people are saying that it can be blamed for many of this world’s ills. An editorial by William Shannon in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer declared: “If we are a less happy, less confident, less intelligent people than we were 30 years ago, a generation of television watching is largely responsible.”
In the book The Plug-in Drug, author Marie Winn claims that television is largely responsible for a serious decline in reading and writing skills, the tearing apart of the family, the rise of the drug culture, the emergence of a new breed of vicious young criminals, and a generation of children suffering from no less than an imbalance of the mind.
A family man in the United States said: “I am old enough to remember when families or children didn’t have television. I believe television has been one of the most damaging influences to the modern-day family. The extent of the damage is now becoming more evident.”
In Japan, Mrs. Kimiko Takisawa, a leader of the Society for Responsible Television, said that TV has “brought about our cultural destruction.” And the Melbourne, Australia, Sun reported: “Television viewing can have the same effect as severe brain damage.”
How much truth is there to all of this? Is television responsible for so many of mankind’s present ills? Can it be used for the good of mankind, having its proper place?
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Some admit to being “TV-intoxicated,” needing a “daily fix” of it, as a drug addict would need drugs.