TV: Good or Bad? An opinion essay by Nabil Anouti

Here are some numbers:

  • The average American child sees about 200,000 acts of violence on TV by age 18
  • Kids ages 6 and under spend as much time in front of a TV or computer screen as they do outside
  • The average American youth spends around 4 hours watching TV a day, that’s 1,023 hours each year watching TV compared to 900 hours in school.
The growth of television has been skyrocketing ever since the 1950s when it became the primary medium for influencing public opinion. In fact, most people say that they can’t live without it! Television offers a wide array of series and shows, movies, sports games, music videos, talk shows and more but do the benefits of TV really overweigh the downsides, despite their mind-boggling importance?
"Do the benefits really outweigh the downsides?"

Is TV good or bad?

On one hand, TV isn’t just good, it is a medium that has revolutionized the way we get informed and entertained. In addition to the obvious entertaining aspect of TV portrayed by movies and series, TV is also very informative. The news, documentaries and reports pass on messages like never before. Furthermore, TV can be very educational thanks to channels like the National Geographic or The History Channel who promote learning in a more “entertaining” way. The more learning, the better, right? Yes and no, because TV doesn’t only teach “good things”, some things shown on TV just shouldn’t be learnt!

Violence, content causing prudish consequences, obscene language, and stereotypes are all unfortunately deemed “normal” actions that generally do not carry consequences on TV. The effects on children and on the crime-rate in general are unbelievably significant. For instance, a teenager in the UK obsessed with a TV killer stabbed and dismembered his girlfriend in an effort to be like an actor, a crime controversially said to be “caused” by TV. Many other examples have occurred but the concept is the same throughout. Other negative repercussions caused by television include addiction, not just a mere metaphor but a parallel to other forms of behavioural addictions, such as drugs or gambling, as well as health problems due to prolonged exposure to screens such as eyesight issues… Finally, one of the most frightening aspect of TV we thought disappeared after the freedom of speech is the distortion of truth, manipulation, and brainwashing opening the doors to what some say call “subtle modern propaganda”. If this weren’t true, television would be much less questionable.

"A teenager in the UK obsessed with a TV killer stabbed and dismembered his girlfriend in an effort to be like an actor"

As far as I’m concerned, not a single child should be watching TV until he or she can differentiate reality from fiction. As for the general public, I think there is a huge effort to be made as to how wary we are in front of the information we are presented with and, mostly, as to how much time we spend watching television. Too much of anything is bad, but the impact of TV isn't the same on everyone:

“There are those people who can eat one piece of chocolate, one piece of cake, drink one glass of wine. There are even people who smoke one or two cigarettes a week. And then there are people for whom one of anything is not even an option.” ― Abigail Thomas, Thinking About Memoir.
Created By
Nabil Anouti
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