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TV. Good guy or bad guy?

Ahh yes…well there you have it. ‘Used well’ it is of course fantastic. Used ‘not so well’ then it ain’t so good at all. And the thing about ‘using something well’ is that it seems to be quite hard to do.

It’s late at night, I’m tired and having a coffee (yes I know, this may seem odd but it works for me) and I relax and channel surf for what I hope is going to be 10 minutes. Just to get my head out of ‘complex thinking mode.’ It’s a good idea right? And usually that’s what I do, but occasionally I find a half hour passes before I say to myself: ‘this is rubbish and I’m going to bed.’ Bingo. For me, wasted time. And as a bonus I find myself strangely compelled to buy a knife that will cut through a shoe. (Why did I never realize before just how essential that item is to my life!)

And only slightly less extreme…I might want to have a conversation with someone about something important and there is a TV in the background…or I might want to go to a restaurant for a meal and just be with friends, chatting naturally. Yet if a screen is there it’s siren call seems irresistible. I find that a moving picture draws my eye, and before I know it…and it doesn’t seem to matter how crap the show is…I’m watching television.

With all this in mind here are some comments (or research depending on how you want to take it) on the vices of the screen:

So from Limit TV there is this.
Academic achievement drops sharply for children who watch more than 10 hours a week of TV, according to the report “Strong Families, Strong Schools,” from the U.S. Department of Education, December 1994.
– The same report stated that three factors student absenteeism, a variety of reading material in the home, and excessive TV watching account for nearly 90% of the difference in the average performance of 8th graders’ mathematics scores.
– American children spend more time watching TV than they do in school, according to Drs. Sege and Dietz in Pediatrics, October 1994.
– Sixth and 12th grade California students who were heavy viewers of TV scored lower on reading, written expression and math achievement tests than students who viewed little or no television. (Judith Van Evra, p. 53.)
– North Carolina fourth graders watch an average of four hours of TV per day, and 25% of the children watch six hours or more. (1992 Study.)

So…there ya go. And from whitedot there is this:
Every time your turn it on, your television is giving you these messages:

“You are boring”
“The people you know are stupid.”
“The things you yourself could do are second rate”
“Thank God you have television to bring glamour
and professional entertainment into your life!”

Not only are these messages insulting, but study after study have shown that television is hurting the quality of our lives. There are many good arguments for getting rid of television altogether.

TV is bad for kids!
It isn’t stimulating or educational. Many of the people who support the TV-Turnoff are teachers. They’ve seen first hand how it kills creativity and disrupts concentration. TV causes delayed acquisition of speech in very young children and is being studied for possible links to attention deficit disorder – a condition which has spread widely since the introduction of television into British homes. TV has been linked to heart disease and depression. And far from relaxing you, TV actually raises stress levels. It makes you lethargic, unhappy and unable to concentrate for hours after watching.

TV is bad for democracy!
A study by Roger Putnam at Harvard University revealed that generations of people after 1950 have stopped participating. They know less and join in less. From bowling clubs to national politics, people are staying home and doing nothing. The study isolated a single cause for this erosion of social capital: television.
You’ll also get a chance to rediscover your own life: you are interesting. Your friends are worth knowing, and the things you do are more important than the things you watch others do on television.

And then there is this from How TV affects your child:
Research has shown that kids who consistently spend more than 4 hours per day watching TV are more likely to be overweight.
– Kids who view violent events, such as a kidnapping or murder, are also more likely to believe that the world is scary and that something bad will happen to them.
– Research also indicates that TV consistently reinforces gender-role and racial stereotypes.

Of course I’m an adult, so none of this thankfully applies to me.

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