Can Television Benefit Us?
WITHOUT a doubt, television is one of mankind’s most amazing inventions. It is today’s ultimate in one-way communication over long distances. And, when used properly, it can have a number of beneficial features.
For one thing, it brings information about current events to us faster than do magazines or newspapers. And it does so in a form that is highly interesting to the eye: in motion pictures. We feel as though we are actually present, witnessing what is going on many thousands of miles away.
For example, were you watching TV on that memorable day in July 1969? Hundreds of millions of persons all over the world were. Some say that 500 million were watching the same program! That was when the first astronauts set foot on the moon. It was a triumph of communication technology, highly interesting and historic.
Almost routinely now, by the use of communications satellites orbiting high in space, events taking place in one part of the world can be seen instantly by people in another part. Never before was that possible. Thus, people today have more information about what is taking place in world events than any other generation in human history has had. Of course, narrow interests, such as nationalistic propaganda, can distort TV news and information. But then, so can radio, magazines, newspapers and books.
Television has proved to be of benefit in producing information about a wide variety of subjects. The average person would have access to but a small part of such information in a lifetime. Many worthwhile programs have discussed historical events and scientific studies, as well as social, economic, religious and other matters. These programs can broaden a person’s views, giving him better insight into what is happening around him.
Too, TV has proved to be beneficial to many poor people who would not be able to afford other forms of information and entertainment. Elderly shut-ins, the sick and the handicapped also have found TV useful, since it helps to dispel loneliness.
A Teaching Aid
Another beneficial use of TV is in teaching. Good TV programs can certainly teach children (and adults) many things.
In the United States about one out of every three students in elementary and secondary school had instruction supplemented by regular classroom use of TV. This involved about 15,000,000 students and 727,000 teachers. The teachers felt that this classroom use of TV adapted to teaching had a positive result. In fact, most said that not enough use was made of this teaching aid.
Television has also been used in experiments to help to overcome certain fears. In one case, youngsters who were abnormally afraid of dogs were shown TV movies of children playing happily with them. Afterward, more of the children who watched were willing to do the same thing, with proper instruction, of course.
Similarly, children who were very fearful of dentists were shown a TV film of a boy climbing fearlessly into the chair, having a dental examination and his teeth cleaned. The film also portrayed his little sister watching apprehensively, but then getting into the dentist’s chair too, her fears having subsided. The TV film succeeded in removing much of the fear of dentists in the children who watched it.
Used properly, TV can even stimulate reading. It can present ideas that encourage viewers to want more information; so they will get reading matter that adds to their knowledge of the subject. Parents, especially, can be alert to encourage their children to do this.
Its Greatest Use
In all countries the greatest use of TV at present is in providing entertainment. For instance, in the Soviet Union only 8 percent of broadcast time is said to be devoted to social and political information, about 17 percent to newscasts, and the remaining 75 percent to entertainment, including sports events.
Some may object to TV as entertainment. But, when used with good judgment, it is not much different from going to a theater for two or three hours, or attending a concert or a ball game. Some would prefer to be more comfortable at home and to watch TV for much the same types of entertainment. And if what they are viewing does not meet their standards, they can turn off the program. The fact is that today TV has become the main source of entertainment for most people who have a set.
Why, then, are there such strong criticisms of television? The problems have to do with the content of the programs, and also with the viewing habits of people, especially children.
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TV has been helpful in several ways, such as supplementing instruction in schools and combating loneliness for many people.
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TV can bring information faster than newspapers and in an interesting format. Events can be seen instantly anywhere on earth by the use of communications satellites orbiting in space